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Paying It Forward for Children's


In an effort to help children battling cancer, four Central Valley women united to "pay it forward" and raise money for The Craycroft Cancer Center at Children's Hospital Central California.

Inspired by an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that focused on acts of kindness and the principles in the Rhonda Byrne book "The Secret," Lisa VanMater-Benham, Katy Benham-Cramer, Stacy Hampton and Jodi Rodriguez formed the "Pay It Forward Barrel Race." The initial horse race, held Nov. 24 at the Central Valley Saddle Club in Reedley, raised $3,000. In addition to the barrel race, there was a silent auction and a raffle.

The $3,000 donation was made to The Craycroft Cancer Center in honor of Jodi's daughter Alex, who lost her fight against cancer in 2005 at the age of 16.

"Because of what Jodi had gone through in losing Alex, it just seemed like the natural thing to do," said VanMater-Benham.

The barrel race drew people from Los Angeles to the Bay Area to the Central Coast. The organizers hope to make it an annual event.