It was my first time participating in the Relay for Life and what an experience! I will do my best to share the moments with you so that you can feel as though you were there too. After all, it's thanks to all of you that I was the third highest fundraiser in the Relay (I won a full body massage mat and a $50.00 gift certificate from a local store) and you all had a big part of our team having the third highest team total (we won coffee and hot chocolate it was much appreciated).
I got there at 6:30pm with a loaded car and truck in full O.S. (Overpacker Syndrome) mode. The Mr. and I got right to setting up an area for the soups (our team ate for free and we sold some to participants all the money went to the Relay) and our tent. The Mr. went to get Girly and at 7:00pm, I and everyone there went to stand around the track for the Survivor's Lap. It was the beginning of an incredible night.
After a quick warm up session, the survivors lined up and prepared to begin a walk that would bring back many memories and emotions. Some had been in remission for many years and some were in the midst of their battle. All were feeling everything they had been through. It was apparent in their faces, in their way of walking and in the way they clung to those family members or friends who walked with them in support. More than a few tears flowed both on the faces of those walking and in the crowd lining the track cheering them on. For some the tears were for the people who were no longer there to walk that oval or who were too sick to be there.
Then the second lap was called and all the teams joined the survivors for a lap. The track was filled with people. People of all sizes, ages, races, sexes, social classes and religions banded together to fight a common goal. There was no hate only humans doing what they could to save humanity from a disease. We were strong, we were many and we were one.
The lap was over and the relay began in earnest. I and another member of our team took the first 15 minutes. For a while we changed every 15 minutes, but as the night wore on, if we could be sure someone was on the track walking, we sat and relaxed or we wandered to the Silent Auction tent to see what was there or over to other sites to talk to people we knew. Always in the background the sounds of feet walking the track, children laughing and playing the middle of the field and hundreds of adults talking and enjoying being out.
When dusk fell, it was time for the luminary ceremony. Everyone stopped walking and began lighting the candles in memory of those who were gone or in honour of those who were in the fight for their life. I heard a whispered prayer here and there, I even whispered as few myself.
The dark deepened and the wind blew colder. People were layering or walking wrapped in blankets and fire pits were stoked. The festivities began in earnest. Music pumped through the air, playing children with glow sticks made dancing lights everywhere they went. I began walking more and knitting as I went. The lights from the luminaries glowed warmly over the cold track leaving people enough just enough light to be able to see. People asked me what I was making and I told them a simple washcloth. As each stitch came from my needles though, the washcloth(s) began to be anything but simple. This row had the dancing lights made by children, another had a shout of laughter from a decorated campsite, that one had the simple joy of a soon to be married couple reveling in the happiness of second love. Those stitches were the mother carrying her warmly wrapped infant and these had the smells of food and campfires. All of them carry the sounds of the feet walking with hope.
Morning's light grew stronger and the grim determined look on tired faces became visible. Luminaries were extinguished and clean up by the people not walking began. Breakfast was served and as people had a nice hot meal of pancakes and sausages along with hot coffee and orange juice, the tired looks faded and a new energy started to show.
Finally it was 7:00am and time for the final lap by everyone present. We lined up at the starting line. As everyone gathered, the clouds opened and rays of sun shone down like all the town's loved ones in heaven were standing and cheering.
We walked the final lap and then dispersed to our sites to finish cleaning up. In half an hour, most of the track was empty only a few remained. I finished loading my truck and gave one last look around to see if I had everything. As I did, I heard the faint shuffling sound of feet walking the track and saw the dancing lights of children playing on the field. Words wrapped around me saying in soft echoes, "Our bodies couldn't fight anymore, but our spirit holds strong. Go now, we will walk until your return." Then it was gone and so was I. Forever changed and yet always the same.
Category 1: Everyone who donated. This post has all the photos of the prizes
1. Your choice of S.R. Kertzer's Truffles (wool/cashmere) 2 skeins in pink or grey - Jan Hostage
2. The remaining 2 skeins of S.R. Kertzer's Truffles - Ruth Schmitz
3. Your choice of one of my photos in any size up to 8x10 (I added three new ones). Choose from this flickr set - Pamela Phillips
4. Same prize as above. Same flickr set as above - Anne Pettigrew
5. Same prize as above. Same flickr set as above - Dorothy Neville
6. 1 skein of Noro Silk Garden - Kathie Fredette
7. Giant skein of Bernat dishcloth cotton - Rhonda Culbert
8. Callisto pattern by Suzanne - Lisa Lowe
9. Callisto pattern by Suzanne (same as above) - Paige Maxim
Category #2 - All who donated $10.00 or more. Again, this post has photos of all the prizes.
1. Fleece Artist sock yarn - Andrew Baker
2. Lorna's Laces sock yarn and sock bag - Janice Capoeman
3. Two skeins Sheep Shop One and Luna scarf pattern - Deborah Yin
4. Socks that Rock sock yarn and sock bag - Deborah Wilson
5. 2 skeins handpainted Dorchester Farms sock yarn and Luna scarf pattern - Deborah Wilson
6. Two skeins "After the Party" handpainted and donated by Rabbitch - Sarah Burrows
7. 10 skeins of Briggs and Little's Heritage yarn - Joan Kristjansson
8. A Season's Tale by Kim Hargreaves - Sarah Carey
9. 2 skeins Misti Pima Cotton Silk in Red - Carry Tveit
10. 20 dishcloth patterns courtesy of Sue at Harvest Moon designs (I will e-mail them to you in pdf format. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader you can get it for free here) - Dee Landreneau
11. 20 dishcloth patterns (same as above) - Pat Uren
12. 20 dishcloth patterns (same as above) - Elisabeth Patterson
13. 20 dishcloth patterns (same as above) - Bridget Hill
14. 20 dishcloth patterns (same as above) - Cynthia Crysdale
Thank you again to all who helped to make my walk in the Relay such a success and so memorable. I hope each of you are lucky enough to have an experience with as much positive impact as I had at the Relay.
Now, what you all really came here to see.
"A very impressive total!"
"My hat off to all of you."
"Now, I will eat my hat."