Relay For Life 2011

On Saturday night The Dad, Pearl and I joined our local Relay For Life in a sponsored run/walk over 17 hours to raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.  Our team of mostly young people and children raised over $3000, so we are very proud of our efforts – and very grateful to everyone who sponsored us and supported us.  Thank you!

We arrived mid-afternoon, just in time to drop our bags in the beautifully-decorated marquee (well done Auntie B!) and head to the opening ceremony.  Then there was a Survivors’ Lap, and all participants followed for a starting lap.  After that, we took turns to carry a baton around and around and around until 9 o’clock on Sunday morning.

The Dad and Pearl had a couple of turns fairly early on, so that they could go home and sleep.  Unfortunately, they were the ones on the track during a torrential downpour!  Pearl didn’t really mind.

The rain turned the ground to mud – the track was asphalt, but the tents were pitched on the park – and continued long enough to make cooking slightly problematic.

Steamed sausage, anyone?

At 8:30pm there was a candle ceremony.  Anyone could purchase a paper bag from the Cancer Society and decorate it in memory of someone who had died of cancer.  Hundreds of these bags, with battery-operated candles inside, glowed in the covered carpark (moved there because of the rain) and a brief memorial service was held.  It was very moving and emotional.  Our bags were dedicated to friends and family, and it was sobering to realise how many there were to remember.

Candle bags

After the Relay, these bags are incinerated and the ashes scattered in a memorial garden.

Shortly after the ceremony, Pearl and The Dad went home.  Our wonderful babysitter had taken Fainjin and Babess to a park, brought them home, fed them, read them stories, put them to bed, done her own study, and was doing all our dishes (!) by the time they got home.  Pearl managed to strip off her wet clothes before falling asleep, but I hear it was a close-run thing.

Meanwhile, I was at the park, supporting our walkers and runners and doing a few spells myself.  There was a lot of music, noise and off-track action through the night.  One team hosted a disco from 11pm until 2pm.

As I carried the baton between 1am and 2am, the sky started to clear and we could see lots of stars.  I found myself thinking of Susan (WhyMommy) and her amazing job at NASA.  I would love for her to see our wonderful southern skies.  I thought a lot about other friends living with cancer, too – there’s a lot of time for thinking on the Relay, and you’re surrounded by plenty of thoughtful people.

I managed to get about an hour of sleep in a deck-chair in our marquee.  We were exceptionally lucky that we were somehow out of range of the sprinkler system which came on at 2:30am!  Some tents had indoor fountains and flooded.  Ours, with half-a-dozen children asleep on the ground, stayed comparatively dry.

Free massages were available to participants, and I was near the start of the queue when the morning session started at 5:30am.  After trying to sleep on a foam pad (and fearing I might never move again!), then napping in a deck-chair, those ten minutes were absolute bliss.

Breakfast was provided at 7am, and The Dad achieved the near-impossible by having all three children down at the park by 7:30.  Fainjin and Babess were very excited to see what we had all been up to, and enthusiastically joined the Relay.  Fainjin carried the baton for two full laps, and Babess for about 30m (it’s heavy for a little kid!).

The whole team walked the final lap together, then gathered for the closing ceremony.  We didn’t run the most laps, have the best-decorated tent, or win the prize for best-dressed team, but we were more than satisfied with our efforts.

There is talk about organising a team for next year.  I hope that one year, we will find that we don’t need a Cancer Society.  Until then, please support your local Relay for Life.

Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back!

Remembered with love

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

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