This past Friday night was our valley's annual Relay for Life. This is an event which raises money for cancer research. Teams from all over the valley pay an entrance fee, then raise money. Each team should raise $100.00 per person. They sell anything you can imagine before and during the relay. We ate hotdogs, pulled pork sandwiches, brownies, cookies, cake, pizza, had water and sodas, scones, funnel cakes, and other various drinks and treats, including fruit, doughnuts and juice for breakfast.
There was an auction, featuring quilts, saddles, beds, a swingset, clocks, gift certificates, and other items. I won a wooden decorative bowl on the silent auction for $5 (I was the first and only bidder). All items were donated by businesses, craft-workers, and people from around town. Several items went for $500.00 or more. There were also several raffles, including quilts, jackets, a Dell Netbook, and a high-powered carbon fiber rifle from Christensen Arms (worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $1700 or more). I haven't won anything in the raffle yet, but considering the cause (and the prizes), I continue entering.
Once things got going, all cancer survivors walk a lap around the track, accompanied by the cheers of the crowd. They are then joined by the caregivers. then everyone walks one lap. For the rest of the night each team must keep at least on person on the track. Some people walk just their time, the leave. Others walk all night. One of my students kept count and determined that she had walked 116 laps. That's roughly 29 miles. I walked about four miles, and am really feeling it. two of those miles was while they were playing Scrabble. Each lap around, you stop at the table and pick up scrabble tiles. After seven laps, you make as good a word as you can with the letters you have. I had the word "teddy." Not the longest word, and not fitting the theme of the evening.
Last year, our county was only one of two that met their goal, with $31,000.00. This year, we raised about the same amount. That is just in our little valley. It is always a special experience to be a part of this, but since our family has been touched by cancer in the past two years, it has meant even more.
In one special part of the evening, they turn off the lights (though this year they left one on and it wasn't as effective), and we all walk a silent lap in memory of those who have either been taken by cancer or have beaten it (or are in the fight). There are white paper bags set around the track. each bag is weighted by dirt and has a candle glowing in the center. Written on each bag is the name of another cancer patient. Some have pictures or messages. It is a very emotionally moving part of the evening.