TRACY - Sunday would have been Sandra Cantu's 14th birthday. The eight year old went missing on March 27th, 2009 in a case that rocked the community and gained national attention.
For several people who gathered to remember her on Friday there was no grief, only a celebration. This is the way a group called "Tracy Celebrates Children" wants Sandra to be remembered.
"Obviously this impacted our community," said Janet Anderson, founder of Tracy Celebrates Children and Sandra Cantu's cousin. "What I wanted to do was bring something joyful around her birthday."
The event offers several free activities at local businesses for children and families including gymnastics, martial arts, crafts, and bowling.
"This year it has continued to grow," Anderson said. "Twenty one businesses are participating."
The event reflects the community's resilience, says Anderson. A tragic event like this that shook the city of Tracy had never been experienced before.
"We're going to turn something that was a tragedy into something positive."
Sandra Cantu disappeared on March 27th 2009. Melissa Huckaby, a 28 year old Sunday school teacher and neighbor of the family emerged as a suspect. Huckaby was arrested and charged with Cantu's kidnapping and murder after her body was discovered ten days later.