Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Relay for Life- the annoying, frustrating productive day/ evening part 2

 Here it is Tuesday the 14th of May and I am still fighting to recuperate from Relay. Even though I did nap for a short time there around 2am or so, most of the time I was awake and enjoying the event. People I know are still asking me how it went. I give them my best, "you should have been there " smile and then proceed to give them the highlights.
 Did I mention that I took a test drive during the Ford Test drive event? I was very happy to help out in raising money for Relay, but I made a poor choice in what to ride in. Having driven an SUV for years now, I should have chosen an SUV because the car that I rode in was cramped and crowded. It was a nice vehicle don't get me wrong, it just had no room. But I got a free shirt out of the deal so it wasn't all bad.
 Have I mentioned how walking that survivor walk makes me feel? Okay yeah, it is odd walking past people who are clapping....but then, I and everyone walking deserve that applause, we beat cancer. We are walking, talking, dancing, prancing, singing, shouting, proof that it can be done. We all started out under somewhat similar circumstances in that we were diagnosed with cancer. Then our battles become personal as we fought in our own way. Some kept it quiet, preferring that as few people as possible knew. Some shouted it to the world- fight with me- help me beat this. Some struggled as others grew stronger. In the end we found ourselves wearing purple survivor shirts, walking around a track lined by people all applauding us.
  The one thing that I was grateful for was the help of family, friends and teammates during the night. My niece needed volunteer hours for school so I happily agreed to help her out there. She took care of the site a couple of times during the night. Her mother watched it a couple of times so I could walk a lap or two. One team mate and fellow survivor who was there was not able to spend too much time with me as she has a site of her own....right beside her race car. Yeah Brenda..still working on putting the person I work with in a car that does so much over 100 mph. It was cool however getting to walk over and check out the car and learn a little about it.
  I started to walk one time only to get stopped part of the way around. I stood and chatted for a few minutes only to notice that they were lighting the Lumanaria bags. I said my good byes and hurried back to the camp site to find my lighters. Once again I was searching for something that I knew I had..just had no clue as to where I had it. Which was one of the most frustrating things of the entire event- the amount of time I spent searching for stuff that I had but had no idea where. When I finally located them I handed one to my niece and one to her boyfriend and asked them to go and help light the candles.
 Walking that Lumanaria Lap is humbling, heartbreaking, and inspirational all at the same time. To see the names of those that we've lost beside the names of those who have won brings a chill and a tear.
 At one point, late in the evening, another team mate who was also helping out with the banking duty sent her son over to see if I wanted to stroll around for a while. I gladly accepted the offer. As I made my way around the track, listening to the music and wondering what the neighbors were thinking I was struck once again by all of the emotions of the event and the reasons for it. This event had drawn a large gathering of people. All brought together by various reasons for one cause. To fund an end for cancer. By the time I got around to where my site was I found it over run by teenage young men. I didn't mind, they were all just sitting around chatting calmly. When they appeared in no hurry to go anywhere I kept walking. It was the most walking I was able to do and I loved every minute of it.
 When the guys finally had been still as long as they could they began to wander off a couple at a time. I was glad that I was close when they did but as late as it was there wasn't much worry of anything getting gone as the crowds had thinned. Now it was the die hards and committed that were there. I knew that I would be there until the sun come up, I just wished that the others were as committed, even as I understood that sometimes you just can't stay.
  I helped when I saw that they were gathering the Lumanaria bags. It was right about the time of my short nap, I'm guessing that someone made a noise as they went by blowing out the candles that woke me. When I saw what was going on I unwrapped myself from the blanket and stood. Walking over I helped dump the candles from the bags and trash the bags. When we had gotten the rest of the way around the track they decided to take a break before gathering up the wooden blocks that held the candles. Since I was rested I went ahead and began to gather the blocks and pile them up for easier gathering and boxing.
  By the time I had made my way half way or better around the track you could see the sky beginning to lighten. Our co-chair called us together for a final recognition and prayer. Following that was the last lap of the event. It was sad in a way. It was over. All the work all of those months culminated in this..and now it was all over but the taking down and cleaning up.
 The final wrap up event is coming up. We'll turn in any money that we have made and hear how everyone did in their fundraising. We'll laugh, we'll applaud and we'll plan for next season. Because until cancer is defeated- we aren't going away.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

And a Good-Exhausting-Frustrating-Productive Time Was Had by All- (part 1)

 The morning started out early. Not as early as my alarm clock wanted it to, but that was just too bad for the clock. The alarm went off at 5am, I finally quit hitting the snooze and got up just before 6. I got dressed, took the puppy outside for business and then I began to prepare. Collecting up all of the items that I really should have collected the night before but didn't. As soon as the clock hit a decent hour I called down to my brother's place to see if he was going to still allow me to use his large canopy. He should have said no, but instead he told me to come after it. On the way down I passed my mother walking her dog. She had forgotten I had taken the day off and wondered what was going on if I were sick. Once she was reminded of the day she was fine. I was going to ask to borrow my dad's truck but before I could I found out that my brother already had. Time to ask favor number two of my brother.
 When I went to collect the canopy I asked if he would have time before he went to work to use dad's truck to haul the tables I had already asked Dad about borrowing and been given permission.  When he asked who was going to load them I told him that I would go and shanghai my son and we'd do it right quick. James was not really happy but he did it. Once the tables were loaded I took the truck key back to my brother and the building keys back to my mother. My brother told me that he would bring his canopy in the truck along with the tables.
 I returned to the house to continue getting ready when my brother arrived. We rode up to the site and with a little help got the canopy set up and staked down. We set the tables out where they would be needed, then returned home. We barely made it before the road work that had been going on began for the day.
 Once I was back home I began to load my SUV-its amazing how much those things can haul. Large plastic storage boxes, plastic chairs, my smaller canopy, cardboard boxes, blankets, food, water, coolers..and the list goes on. I'm glad that passenger vehicles aren't subject to weigh stations or I may have been overloaded. I took it all to the site and began to set everything out. I didn't set it up yet as I had to run an errand. This meant calling on my usual rescuers, mom and dad. They came up to site sit as I quickly left. Unfortunately I chose the route that took me right to the road work. That was a delay I didn't really want but luckily I wasn't delayed too terribly long. I made my trip and back to find that mom had left because the wind had picked up...a lot. Dad had seen me pull in so he had called mom and she was already on her way back. He walked up to meet her as I began to attempt to set up my site fighting the wind as I went. I had hoped for a slight breeze to make the items I had brought to hand from the canopy swing and sway, slightly. This wind was causing the decorative hearts to spin and swing crazily testing my reflexes past the limits of my patience.
 As I was attempting to hang the decorations I had my back to the much larger canopy behind me. I had hung tarps from the frame and the wind had them flapping crazily getting seriously on my nerves. Suddenly a different type noise had me turning to see the wind lifting and twisting the canopy behind me. Reaching for it quickly I kept if from flying away but watched as a section of it collapsed in my hands. One of the cross supports had snapped. My heart sank...I was in so much trouble. I borrowed a relatively new canopy only to see it trashed. I was now looking at a 12 x 12 scrap piece. My own canopy swayed and jerked crazily as the wind sought to destroy it as well. Someone passing told me that one other tent had to be rescued from the woods. It didn't help.
 I finally managed to get everything in place then I went to make a poster of the items and their cost. The wind had stolen one of my poster boards..it was returned a few moments later by someone a couple of sites away. I made the list but the wind would not allow me to fasten it to the front of the table, so I taped it down to a section of the table surface.
 While I had been in the process of setting up one of the committee members had passed by telling me that the Ford Test Drive program was ready. (A local Ford dealership brought 6 cars for test drives. For everyone who took a drive Ford donated $20 to Relay) I had to wait for someone to man the fort. My  niece who had asked about getting some volunteer hours in showed up not long after I finished setting up. I showed her everything, showed her the cost list and then me and her mom left to go test drive cars. Well, I didn't drive I rode- the car I was in was nice, but I didn't like the limited room. Guess that SUV has spoiled me. Once Donna got back from her drive we went in to the Survivor Dinner. The food prepared by the Methodist men was delicious, the company was great and the program entertaining. Then it was time.. it was time to head back to the track and get ready for the survivor lap.
  I checked on my niece, Angel was doing fine. I made my way over to where the other survivors waited in time to fall into the group already headed around the track. Led by a drum core from East Gaston High School. Listening to applause as you walk past has always been an odd feeling..but I understand it better now. We've fought- some more than once- and won. We've fought- and been forever changed. We're stronger and yes- so much more appreciative of even the small things.
 The Cub Scouts carrying a large banner led the lap for the caregivers. They were incredible in how well they did. Once the Caregiver's lap was finished the 5K run commenced. I watched as the runners passed the track and then following the edge of the woods hit the trails that was their route.
 The East Gaston Belmont Relay was really under way. We had fought long and hard to get here- and now- let the fun begin.