I am the granddaughter of Holanda Soriano, who is the inspiration and driving force behind Team Guayas. In the spring of 2007, Holanda was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was the gentle, soft spoken, loving and spiritual matriarch of our growing family, which at the time consisted of her 9 children, 32 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren and an ever-loving spouse of 66 years. She fought a tough battle and succumbed to this horrible disease in the fall of 2007. She was 88 years young and the first loss to our close-knit family, and we still grieve her departure. Undoubtedly, she was the leader of our pack.
Shortly after her passing, a co-worker told me about the Hirshberg Foundation, their LA Cancer Challenge walk/run and dedication to pancreatic cancer research and awareness. I immediately felt drawn to the Hirshberg Foundation’s mission and knew this was our avenue to honor my grandmother and take part in the fight against pancreatic cancer. We have participated in the LA Cancer Challenge since 2007, initially participating as individuals and later as Team Guayas. Our first costume was just wearing purple wings and we’ve worn them every year since. Kids will run up to us and ask, “What are you? Butterflies? Fairies?” We’ve decided we are Butter Fairies!
~Melissa Machuca, 2013 Team Captain