Candelaria M. Flores (Candy), aka Raider Eye Cande
Candelaria M. Flores (Candy), aka Raider Eye Cande, is among a number of Oakland Raiders fans who make attending games such a special experience.
I was born in Tulare County, Calif. At the age of five my parents moved to San Jose and at 19 I moved to Pasco, Wash. Since then this has been my residence but my heart will always have love for my home town in the Bay Area.
How I became a Raider fan: three very special people in my life inspired me to be a Raiders fan -- uncle Larry and my two aunts, Amanda and Christina Martinez.
At the age of nine I would see my aunt Christina sporting Raiders gear and I always admired her talent, seeing her draw different images of the Raiders. She even taught my brother and me how to play football. I remember growing up playing tackle football and our team was known as the Raiders. Aunt Christina would be the coach and I was the only female, playing football with the boys from the block.
Uncle Larry and aunt Amanda Martinez, in Washington, made an annual visit to the first home opener every year and always stopped at the Raider Image store where they would shop like crazy. I admired them for being surrounded by big groups of Seahawks and Cowboys fans. They have never given up their loyalty of being Raiders fans and all three are still truly loyal to this day.
I always remember their words that being a Raiders fan is a life time commitment and there is no looking back. I am a truly loyal Raiders fan and now I have the opportunity to share and teach my daughter, Irene Garcia, and my son, Andres Garcia, the commitment of being a loyal and true Raiders fan and to continue it into the next generation.
Since my kids were toddlers they have watched football on TV. Now older, they ask me and their dad, "When are we going to a home game?"
So in 2010 we made our first trip to a home game. It was the Raiders vs. Patriots and while we didn't win, our first home game was well worth it. The experience of tailgating and visiting Raiderville and taking pictures with the Super fans was a lot of fun. My daughter and I met Gorilla Rilla and my daughter cried. (We would always see him on TV and when she finally saw him in person, it was tears of joy.) The best part of the trip was watching our team play live. Priceless!
My kids had so much fun they didn't care if we lost and wanted to go to another home game. I told them, "Our next trip is going to be in Disneyland," and their response was that they would rather go to another home game. Since then I made sure my kids get the opportunity to go to a home game every year. It's always an amazing time for them.
I started painting my face because my kids brought it up to paint my face and dress up. They mentioned that I was the type of person that loved meeting and interacting with others. I took the idea into consideration. The outfit I first started with was a referee outfit, with my crazy face paintings. I came up with the referee idea because I felt, like all Raiders fans felt, that the referees were against us and I wanted to show that this referee is part of the Oakland Raiders and also show my team some support. Well, that didn't go so well! The referee made it hard for me as there would be too many upset fans, due to the calls against our team. I was upset myself and decided to change my outfit!
Even though I had my face painted I would still look for Super fans to take pictures with. It was never my intention that one day I would be known and acknowledged for the commitment of driving for 13-hours and putting 5-hours of work on my face, with only 4-hours of sleep, for the weekend. I started to meet more of the Raider nation fan base and it was brought to my attention there was an annual bonfire gathering in Southern California. I took the trip over there and met a great person I consider my friend/brother, Alonzo Skip Thomas. I will always remember his words. He said he was amazed at the detailed work on my face painting and the long drive I took just to go to home games. Alonzo did everything possible for me to be recognized in the Raider Nation. I had brought to Alonzo's attention that I needed to come up with a Raider fan name. That's where Raider Eye Cande was introduced to the Raider Nation. I questioned him why Raider Eye Cande? Alonzo Said, "Because you are going to see, you're going to get their attention for having such an awesome personality, a great heart and a creative style." I loved it.
I'm a person who will go out of my way for others. I love to give and put a smile on other's faces. I've been blessed to have the opportunity to get autographs from players. I always go out of my way to give them to the ones who don't have the opportunity to go to a home game. Just by giving them something makes me feel happy knowing they can have a little part of the Raider Nation.
The biggest part of being Raider Eye Cande is that I've been welcomed and able to put smiles on the younger kids' faces and to make their visit to a home game exciting, just like they did for my family and me. Last July I got the honor to be part of Knights of Shield Chapter 209 Booster Club, by Endy Rivas, aka Storm Raider, and Alonzo Skip Thomas's organization honoring his father by all booster clubs connecting together on events.
These two men have been a big impact in my life, knowing that being part of the Raider Nation fan base is more than being a fan; it's helping the community and showing the love at the same time. My family and I have had the opportunity to raise money for cancer patients and to serve food and feed the homeless. I would do everything and anything possible to be a part of a charity. I couldn't have done it without my KOS209 family and my cousin, Marisella Armas, for giving me a roof to stay under and making my family and me feel at home. As for my husband, he has always given me support for doing everything possible to become a part of the Raider Nation. As for my mother, she always gave me prayers to keep me safe on my travels.
My next step is to improve myself and to continue to help out more people in the community. Another goal I have is to support our team and follow them by going to an away game and meeting more of the amazing Raider family. I believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I have achieved all this with the love and faith in my Lord Jesus Christ. I would also like to give a big thanks to Gorilla Rilla for sharing where the real party is at and supporting me.
I wouldn't be Raider Eye Cande without the help of all my Raider Nation family and fan base and all the love from the Black Hole and the photographers on the field. You guys are all outstanding!