The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a celebration that honors people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and raises awareness to fight back against the disease.
At Relay, teams of supporters camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground to take turns walking or running around a track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.
Our local Relay For Life was last weekend, and it was quite an experience.
Cassie gave a speech at the opening ceremony, telling her story and representing fellow cancer survivors. It made for a tearful start of the event, but once we started walking, the cheers from the crowd quickly lifted our spirits.
Survivors and caretakers like Cassie and me walked hand in hand, and the amount of appreciation that I felt from the crowd of supporters cheering us on was overwhelming.
I’m so grateful for having experienced that moment, no matter how fleeting. Having people clap for us after an incredibly difficult year was easily the most uplifting experience of my life. Thanks, so much. Thank you. It means more than you can imagine.
After the first lap, supporters joined the survivors and caretakers on the track. People walked in shifts, and we couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day to do it!
Relay Teams had tents set up around the track, each with different fund-raising strategies. There were bake sales, cold drinks, and snow cones. People were selling grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza, and nachos with cheese. Others offered fortune telling, henna tattoos, or custom T-shirts. Kids were anxious to spend time in the bounce-house, or dunk their friends at the dunk tank!
Our team raised money painting faces, selling drinks, and selling lollipops. We took turns walking the track, working the table, and decorating the bags for the Luminaria Ceremony.
Here are a few close ups of the decorated Luminarias:
Cassie had me pose with our team’s beautiful signs…
…which were created by Cassie’s sister Sarah (super artist extraordinaire).
Here’s Sarah demonstrating her talents, using Jess as her canvas:
In the evening, we raised more money selling smores and glow bracelets.
Cassie was cracking me up, because while participating in the “Crazy Hat Lap” she was simultaneously trying to sell smores:
Here’s Lauren and Cassie styling some of the different face paint options:
It started raining as we set up the bags for the Luminaria Ceremony:
We did manage to get all of the bags lit…
…but when the rain eventually came, it came down in buckets.
The team toughed it out for a few hours, but the threat of lightning forced us indoors around midnight. Here’s some shots of the standing water under our tent — there wasn’t a dry toe among us!
At the closing ceremony the next morning, nearly 24 hours after we had arrived, it was announced that the Total Amount Raised by all of the teams who participated in the Relay was over $73,000. Of this total, over $3000 was raised by our team, the Remission Commission.
We never could have reached $3000 without the generous donations from our families, friends, and other supporters. I want to thank everyone who donated for their generous gifts — it felt great to be able to give back to those responsible for the medical advancements that saved Cassie’s life.
For those that helped us do it: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Cheers!
Update: Here’s Cassie’s speech from the opening ceremony:
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