Last weekend, if you remember, was the annual Foothills Relay for Life event held at Clark Magnet High School. As I have for the last four years, I was onsite for most of the 24 hours. It was particularly important to me to be there to witness the survivors’ walk, the first lap on Saturday that kicked off the event.
To see these people – young and old – take to the track was truly inspiring and I was grateful to be there.
I was part of the Prom Plus team, which was comprised of adults and kids and, like last year, we had a lot of fun.
As the day wore on, though, our outlook was about the only thing to remain sunny. Clouds were crowding in and the temperature was dropping. I left around noon to attend my lovely niece’s wedding reception and when I returned a few hours later with my son, we both made sure to have our sweatshirts on over sweaters.
As twilight drew to a close and night settled in, the votive candles sitting in little bags filled with sand surrounding the perimeter of the track and decorated with the name of a cancer fighter were lit. A bagpiper led us on a sad procession as we all held candles and read the names on those bags. Some were in celebration, some in remembrance. The luminaria ceremony is always an emotional part of Relay and an important one. It demands our complete attention and allows us the privilege of remembering those who have battled cancer, whether they won or lost.
It was about an hour later, the bagpiper finished and the candles in our hands extinguished, when team members again took to the track. A movie screen had been set up and some of us – I was one – sat under a tent to enjoy a comedy.
Returning to my site, I thought that the prediction of rain might be an error as the moon was valiantly peeking through the drifting clouds. Around 1:30 I crawled into my tent and sleeping bag hopeful that we would escape the rain.
Ah, but you know the quote about hope – it’s disappointment postponed – and around 3 a.m. I heard the beginning of the rain that lasted for about five hours.
Thanks to my son who was smart to cover the mesh at the top of our tent; otherwise we would have been soaked. As it was, when I woke up around 6:30 a.m. I was more than a little hesitant to step outside to greet the morn.
Mary O’Keefe, who I wonder whether she ever sleeps, was already up and hustling, directing the Prom Plus Club kids in cleaning up our site as they munched on some breakfast, huddled under our pop up.
Around 8 a.m. the closing festivities began that included the shaving of the heads of Chuck and Regan Boone. Longtime Relay supporters, the Boones had challenged the audience to donate an additional $3,000 to Relay and they would shave their heads.
By 8 a.m. the money had been raised and by 8:30 a.m. Chuck and Regan were feeling a bit light on top.
The rain was beginning to let up, the closing speaker gave us some words of guidance and encouragement, we took a final lap around the track, gathered our tents, sleeping bags and other goods and headed to our cars.
The power of Relay is a gift, one that I am thankful that people like the Boones, the Waldheims, the many teams and donors, all make possible. It reinvigorates the commitment to get that mammogram, prostate exam or other test that will help keep us healthy.
As stated on the Relay website: “[Relay] helps all participants memorialize and reflect on the loss of loved ones and friends and honor and celebrate the survivorship of loved ones and friends.”
Donations are still being accepted. Visit www.foothillsrelayforlife.com to see how you can help.
Robin Goldsworthy is the publisher of the Crescenta
Valley Weekly. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (818) 248-2740.