I had heard about the Relay for Life and had mentioned to Mike that maybe we should think about taking that challenge on, which was an idea he didn't immediately jump on. As many of you know our local Fairgrounds, where Mike has spent endless hours over the years as a volunteer, is moving after over 50 years at it's current location. Not surprisingly, Mike is a little melancholy about the move. He's looking forward to the new facility, but is sad to be leaving so many memories behind. Since this very first Ancaster Dundas Relay was going to be at the fairgrounds I thought it would make another great memory to take with us. A few weeks later Mike came home from a Fair Board meeting and said, "hey what do you think about doing the Relay for Life." Great idea, honey wish I 'd thought of it. Next thing you know we were trying to assemble a team.
*oops we were missing Granny and TLP when the event photographer came 'round.
Our team! What can I say about them beyond they rock. Seriously! Collectively we brought in an impressive amount of money. You may remember I'd set a team goal of $1000 thinking for our first event that was a respectable amount. Then I threw in an offer to make dinner for whoever raised the most funds on our team. Grandma Linda and Auntie Yoli took this challenge very seriously and blew the rest of us away with their mad fundraising skills. Together they were responsible for raising half our team's contribution. As for the challenge Grandma Linda edged Auntie Yoli out by a mere $55, but when you factor in they raised $570 and $515 respectively they're both getting a dinner! And the rest of the team was nothing to sneeze at either. Together Grandma Linda, Auntie Yoli, Papa, Robin, Lib, Yoli's Aunt, TLP, Granny, Mike and I raised $2258.00!!!!! And thanks to an incredibly generous donation by Cansas I managed to break my own goal of $250 as well by $15. Thanks to all of you out there who helped us shatter our fundraising goals! And thanks to my teammates! I couldn't think of a better group of people to send the night with.
The actual event, wow! What a lot of organizing, worrying and obsessing to get this whole thing together. This being our first event and not knowing what to expect plus the unpredictable weather we've been having lately and the 60% chance of thunderstorms they were calling for. Ack! It pretty much all I've been thinking about for the last week. Well that and Abby's graduation which I still have to tell you all about. Mike and I were racked with nerves as we loaded up on Friday afternoon. Well Mike more so than I, but still.
It was hotter than Hades when we got there to set up, but luckily we had a primo spot along the track, with no one behind us, so we could stretch the limits of our site a little bit. Granny and TLP showed up not long after us with tent in tow. Surprisingly, the tent went up super quick and Mike and I had the pop up sun shades up in no time. All that was left was to hang the 'Home Sweet Home' sign on a tent pole. After setting up camp Grandma Linda and I set off to register the team. Since they had to check all the funds and fill out receipts for all pledge envelopes received it took an incredibly long time. Then it was dinner which wasn't anything too impressive, but it was food. Next year we're planning a picnic instead. Before we knew it the opening ceremonies were upon us.
In my mind I had anticipated this as being the most emotional part of the event. The Survivors gathered and started off the first lap while their names were read from the stage. I was surprised that there was more of a celebratory feel to it. Lots of cheering, clapping and big smiles and then as the Survivors were finishing their first lap I saw her. A little girl around 10 or so, with her hair in pig tails wearing her yellow Survivor shirt. You Moms out there know that kind of thing can be a real punch in the stomach and I couldn't help, but weep a little bit. That whole first lap was something very special to experience.
Mike walked our first lap and then second one we all walked as a team. For the next 12 hours we played it loosey goosey, walking whenever we felt the urge. In those first few hours quite often the majority of us were out on the track walking. Approaching the wee hours of the morning it was getting increasingly difficult to be out there. Around 4 am, when it felt like the night would never end, I grabbed Mike's iPod, cranked the volume to mind numbing decibels and just walked for an hour or so. It had gotten pretty cold by that time and it was easier to just keep moving than do anything else.
It was a tough night, but a lot of fun and more importantly it gave me such a deep feeling of satisfaction. Maybe I won't have a career in the non profit sector and that's okay. It's all about what I can do instead. Like give up a nights sleep with 9 of my favourite people and together raise a significant amount of money to help fund cancer research. And get those people together with 63 other people who had the same idea and together all of us can raise an astonishing $198,905 (!!) in one night to help fight cancer! The goal for this event was $50,000, how incredible is that? I feel so lucky I got to be a part of something so huge. Where do I sign up for next year?
*the morning after, we did it!