Saturday, July 24, 2010

Relay Wrap-Up

There was ambulating. There was somnambulating. There was decorating, donating, and masticating. We walked. We cried. We made our goals.

We endured.

The Relay For Life of Cupertino, 2010, was a great success. I received another donation today (thank you very much!). The books don’t close until August 31, 2010, so check your couch cushions– there’s still time to donate.

As a team, ETC, ETC (Embracing The Challenge, Enabling The Cure) made Gold level, raising over $5000. As a Relay, we met fundraising goals, participation level goals, number of team goals… we achieved “Trail Blazer” qualification and may have even accomplished “Purple Pace Setter”, when the dust settles. Overall, a great success.

And yet…

We catch our breath, and begin to plan for the next one.

My wife will be the Event Chair next year. I’ll most likely do the Offline Donations Verification Chair again, and be the unofficial co-chair, filling in where I’m needed. I seem to do a lot of signage for these events. And schlepping everything from water to pizzas. No complaints– I do it because I can and I actually enjoy it, at the end of the day.

We still need to iron out some details. I think we need a cheer-leading sort of speaker, if any speaker at all, at the launch of Opening Ceremonies and the start of the Survivor lap. We get the energy up, along with the excitement, initiating the event, and then get bogged down with speakers. There’s the Mayor, then the council members… actually only the Mayor spoke this year. Then there was a speaker who went too long– with everybody standing around, waiting for the start of the Relay. It snuffed the energy.

But we finally got started, just well behind schedule. There was some unrest in many of my team members, not knowing how this would affect the schedule, when they would be asked to walk. But once we got started walking, things settled in.

My sister-in-law was our team’s representative Survivor. Her husband came by and walked with her in the Survivor’s lap. He summed up the goings on with the speaker before the commencement of the Survivor’s lap as being “a chick flick from Hell.” But if you knew him, you’d expect some such quip.

We set up camp– pop-tent and pop-chairs; card tables and coolers, pup-tent and sleeping air mattress. We set out our on-site fundraisers, as they arrived– scarves that my mom crocheted, Chex-mix individually wrapped by yet another sister-in-law, brownies, and cupcakes made by my mother-in-law.

I soon had to make a run to Park Place restaurant to pick up several tons of breakfast burritos (the bags were heavy, but maybe not that heavy…) for the Survivor breakfast. Although they smelled very good, and I was sure there would be plenty enough for everyone, I did not partake.

The day consisted of a lot of directing traffic, mainly towards my wife. Or at least where I thought she might be. Bands played, kids tossed frisbees, I even saw a couple guys playing catch with a baseball and gloves. It had the feel of an outdoor festival. Because it was!

As dusk fell, the bagpipes player began walking the track, playing Amazing Grace. This is always the most moving and emotional time for me. All along, as we prepared our individual team camps, honored our Survivors, and played catch and the like, the luminaria team was fastidiously working on the setting of the luminaria around the track and surrounding bleachers.

This year, a new theme was introduced. “A world without cancer is a world with more birthdays.” This is especially true of Survivors who typically count the date of their remission as a birthday. My dad considers the day of his successful prostatectomy to be another birthday. He celebrated 11 years cancer free earlier this year.

It was fascinating to see the luminaria team work. First they spelled out Hope. Then they changed it to Cure. They did it so quickly and masterfully that I didn’t get a picture of it. Well, that’s part of the reason. The fact that they pulled off spelling out “More Birthdays”– with real candles– truly distracted me. It was quite a show-stopper. It makes a nice marquis on my blog, don’t you think?

Next came the speaker, who was quite succinct and effective. Then, the reading of the names. My brother-in-law read the names for our team. It’s unfortunate that the list was incomplete, and so several of our team’s names were not read. But hopefully that will be rectified next year.

Soon it was time to go on a pizza run. How I made it back to Relay with all six pizzas intact, I don’t know. I guess I had gotten enough to eat at dinner– a Mo-Go short-rib burrito and a spicy pork quesadilla filled me up, thank you very much.

Another brother-in-law brought his telescope and set up in the middle of the football field to hold an impromptu astronomy lesson. It was a popular activity that we hadn’t planned on. The college kids really liked it.

Then it was time to try and sleep. I used my iPod to drown out the noise of our neighboring camp, who have rambunctious discussions about work into the wee hours of the morning (well, they usually crawl off to bed around “closing time” as if they are being kicked out of the bars…) Because I hadn’t slept much the night before, it was imperative that I get some sleep. And it also affected me when I did finally fall asleep– I “crashed” and was snoring loud enough that the neighboring camps made note.

I woke up and got up when it started getting light. I got some walking in with my mom and aunt and watched as the camps woke up and “stirred”.

I was happy that my family could participate, although I wished they could have stayed longer. I wished that there was a way to have my dad participate, especially in the Survivor ceremonies. I wished that there had been more time to take photos. I wished for a lot of things– more cooperation, better and stronger community.

But really, what I most wish for is a world without cancer.

And that’d be a world with more birthdays. (That’s my nephew, celebrating.) It’s a wonderful dream. Hope it manifests from our hope and our effort.

Thanks for reading. Blessings to you all.


Deb said...

It was a wonderful event-- one I hope we can emulate here in Riverbank next year. I may be calling for some pointers. (Not that I'm in charge or anything...) Kudos to you and Suzy for all your hard work. Together we WILL find a way for everyone to celebrate more birthdays.

Farlar said...

Awesome recap! Sounds like a crazy busy emotional wonderful day.

Gerri said...

You did a great job of summarizing what Relay is all about. Thanks to you and Suzy for all your hard work and efforts. I, too, pray that we will soon have a world without cancer.