It’s taken a few days, but I finally feel like I’ve returned to “the land of the living” after this year’s Relay for Life.
Relay is an amazing experience, but if you stay all night – and stay awake all night (as I’ve made a tradition of doing these past three years) – it can take a while before you start to feel normal again once the big event is over.
The first year I participated, it was only a few short months after my dad lost his battle to cancer, and emotions were raw. While I was glad I took part, I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d go back for another round. I ached like a 95-year-old woman for days afterwards, and it was also an emotionally draining experience. However, the following year, a group of friends were rallying to form a team, and I decided, “What the heck… might as well.” It turned out that the next go-round with “The Slipper Sisters” was so much fun that even though I was beat when it was over, I couldn’t wait for the next Relay for Life!
So for the past few months, I fundraised and anxiously anticipated yet another fun night with my team. I have to say, I was absolutely blown away by the support I received from my amazing family and friends. I set an initial goal of raising $500, and after “launching” my fundraising campaign on Facebook and via email back in early April, I had already surpassed that goal in less than 2 days. I then re-set my goal to $750, and with a few weeks left before the May 31st walk, I had surpassed that as well. I ended up with $1,200 in donations. I still can’t believe it! This was by far the most money I’ve raised for the Canadian Cancer Society via the Relay for Life, and I’m so blessed and proud and humbled.
All I can say to all of you out there who sponsored me is this: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
I imagine that if Dad knew I’d raised that much money in his honour, he’d be blown away too. I can just see him shaking his head!!
So late Saturday afternoon, I packed up and headed to Shawville with my friend and teammate Brenda. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the BBQ, and then quickly changed into our running shoes and our Relay T-shirts, and got ready for a full night of walking!
And walk, we did. And we chatted. And laughed. And danced. And sang. And ate. (Oh LORD, did I eat! Two new favourite things: the Roasted Red Pepper soup I tried out when the midnight soup was served… DYING to try making it myself!!; and Chex Muddy Buddies. Holy smokes, you guys, have you ever TRIED Muddy Buddies??? My new favourite treat!!! I’m drooling just thinking about them!!! Thanks Kerry & Brenda for introducing them to me!)
I could try telling some of the stories that had us busting a gut laughing, but I’m afraid they’re the “you had to be there” kind of stories. Let’s just say it was fun x 1000.
Of course, there were the poignant moments, as well. The Survivors Victory Lap gets me every year, as the cancer survivors and their caregivers make the first lap around the track to the music of bagpipes, while the rest of us line the track and applaud them. They are truly remarkable and inspiring people of all walks of life, and it always gives me a lump in my throat.
That’s my teammate Leslie in the centre – a truly incredible woman! Photo credit to www.cindylottesphotography.com
The ceremony for lighting the luminaries at dark is equally heart-wrenching, as Phil Holmes sings Amazing Grace and families and friends gather to light the luminaries they’ve purchased in memory and in honour of loved ones. This was the part I struggled with the most my first year at Relay, but since then, it has gotten easier. My mom made it up this year to see the luminaries being lit, and I know it meant a lot to her to see the series of them there in memory of Dad.
Both photos credited to www.cindylottesphotography.com
It’s a bittersweet moment watching that track light up. They are beautiful to see, yet it is heart-breaking that there are so many.
That’s the reason I walk. In the hopes that one day, we will have raised enough money that a cure is found. That no more families are shattered by this dreaded disease.
And that one day, there are no more luminaries to be lit.
Until then, we’ll keep walking.
I’m already looking forward to 2015 with my Slipper Sisters!!! :)