Monday, April 20, 2009


I RELAY ... that is I participate in Relay for Life! This was my fourth year to take part in the local Relay event to raise monies to find a cure for cancer. This year, hundreds of thousands of people will hear the words "You have cancer", and there's a good chance that some of them will be people we know and love. We have all been touched by cancer in some way ... and we all have the power to make a difference. Relay For Life brings more than 3.5 million people from across the country together each year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that takes too much. This fun-filled, overnight event empowers everyone to help fight cancer by raising money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society's lifesaving mission. Our battle cry rings loud and clear: We CELEBRATE the survivors ... We REMEMBER loved ones lost ... Together we FIGHT BACK!

Last Friday night at 7 PM my team of Relay Regulars ( the original team formed 12 years ago that started the Relay for Life locally) joined with 61 other teams for our annual Relay for Life event. Somewhere it is written that the unpredictable Texas weather (aka: Hail, Tornadoes, Lightening, "Frog Stranglers" ... Rain) and Relay go hand in hand.

Two years ago we had to end abruptly when wind and lightening drove us from the track. We had held our Survivors Lap and introduced each team ... we were just lighting the almost endless circle of luminaries to honor or remember someone with cancer, when the wind started up with a vengeance. I have never seen so many people take down tents and pack 'silent auction' items, chairs, food so quickly!

Last year it was very cold ...okay, okay, we're talking about Texas weather here ... it was in the 50s ... but when the sun went down, the dampness could be felt in your bones. At midnight following the 'Pizza' Delivery and after other team members had finished the silent auction and the "Flowers for a Year" raffle ... there were only four of us 'hearty' (?) women who stayed until the closing ceremonies at 7 AM. During the l-o-n-g evening we each took turns walking laps around the quarter mile track ... leaving the remaining three to solve all the troubles in this wonderful, complex world of ours.

The Duck is a pilot, which for you land lovers means he's also a meteorologist of sorts as well. All the forecasts predicted rain ... all day Friday and throughout the night. I got the following email (note time)

Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 10:04 AM

Subject: "it's raining, it's pouring, we're Relaying anyway"

Now that didn't rhyme, did it? This will be your last email from me today. I have lots of work and only 2 hours to get it done but I wanted to check in and remind everyone that we do have a rain plan in order. If we have to start out with the event in the school cafeteria, we will. It will be a scaled down version of the opening because of space constraints, but the show will go on. If things clear up, which I think they should according to the weather girl last night, she showed it blowing east of us sometime around 6:00, we'll pack it up and go outside and RELAY all night long!

Remember, check the website sometime after 3:00 today. We will update the site just to let you know if we'll start out the event inside or out.

I should have known ... 3:00PM came accompanied by 2 inches of 'liquid sunshine' ... so the Relay was set up in a middle school's cafeteria. We're talking about approximately 300 people gathered in hallways, winding around corners, stepping over folding chairs, attempting to hear a familiar voice among the din surrounding them. I found the "Relay Regulars" table(s) actually a choice location in a L-shaped corner (preferential treatment for the "ole girls") At 7 PM sharp the event commenced ... several 'survivors' shared heartfelt stories before the Survivors Lap was done ... memories of being in kindergarten (yes, at least 100 years ago) came back to me. Do you remember .... lining up behind someone and walking in a single file, though the halls and winding back in the cafeteria where you started. This year the survivors walked in 'groups' .... "Now to 3 Years" then it was "3- 8 years" and so on, culminating in "15 years +" When the survivors returned to the front of the cafeteria, the first group (currently to 3 yrs.) were asked to look at the last group .... you could have heard a pin drop .... then a loud shout and applause as a relatively small group of people turned to see a large gathering of healthy, happy, smiling faces.

Each team made their 'signature' lap ... some strutting to jazz music, others playing kazoos, some chanting ... but all supporting each other as one ... we came to celebrate, remember, and fight back. I was able to go outside a couple of times (between cloud bursts) and walk a few laps. The luminaria candles could not be lighted because they were inside the school, so hundreds of 'glow sticks' were divided up and placed in the white luminaria bags with loved ones names written to honor or remember. The lights were dimmed and the names were read over the microphone as we listened in reverence.

We still had the 'midnight pizza' delivered .... we still hugged friends not seen often enough ... still held our auction (clearing $1000!) we laughed ... and cried, we bought baked goodies and ate too much .... helped pack up all the equipment ... and vowed to be back next year! It was one of the best Relays yet!!!


Anonymous said...

Good post. Enjoyed reading it. And love the title of your blog.

Robynn's Ravings said...

Good Morning Sandy!

Was just over at BZ's blog and read about the horrific lightening strike. Sounds like you guys had one HECKUFA storm! Good for you for your heart for those with cancer. Have a good girlfriend really suffering the effects of chemo right now due to breast cancer. Wish I could be there to take care of her. She doesn't live here.

Sandy, I wanted to thank you for your encouragements and kind words about me publishing. Maybe God will open that door one of these days. But for now, I'm really grateful to have met and made wonderful friends, like you and BZ, in the blogworld. That would be something that wouldn't happen with a book. You would never get to know your readers in the same way. If it ever goes anyplace else, I'm glad I started my blog first! I wouldn't trade my friendships for a book.