Bits and Pieces
Relay still flourishing after seven years
Eudora's seventh American Cancer Society Relay for Life was this weekend at Laws Field. For those of us who stepped down as chairpersons and committee members, it was a time to sit back and enjoy the hard work put into this relay by the new committee, headed by Eric Strimple and Deb Campbell.
The relay program was especially good this year. Rod Moyer was able to recruit Doug Hartwell, recently home from Iraq, to present the flag, which was a surprise and a moving experience for all. Jill Dickerson singing "The Star Spangled Banner" was amazing. Most of us were not aware of Jill's incredible talent, and we were all stunned by the quality of her singing. Not to be outdone, Teresa Beers added her own moving rendition of "There Can Be Miracles," and Danny Lassley's tenor voice rose beautifully in the singing of the Josh Groban song "You Raise Me Up."
Karen Boyer and Susan Steel recounted their journey through their diagnosis of cancer and subsequent cures. The crowd was held in rapt silence as they shared their stories. Even though we know they are with us today, we were often on the edge of our seats as they told of their shock when diagnosed, their many treatments and surgeries, and -- thankfully -- their return to full health.
The entire community rose to the occasion once again, and more than $54,000 was raised to combat this insidious disease, which threatens all of us. Our hometown teams, accompanied by several out-of-town teams, collected this whopping total. A special thanks to Kristie Brady and her team, "Leavey's Legacy," which raised more than $12,000.
As chairwoman of the survivor committee, I had the help of many dedicated volunteers putting together the dinner for the survivors at Nottingham Elementary School in conjunction with the relay. When the idea was first mentioned to the committee, there was concern about the cost of the dinner. My inclination was to call Ruth Schneider of our local "Ruth's Cakes," who has provided refreshments in the past for the survivors. Her response was, "Gee, Dr. Holladay's retirement party is the same weekend," but was hesitant only a few minutes until she said, "Sure, I'll do it."
Another person who gave without pause was Dan Strimple of "Cutters." He immediately responded to my request for help by donating food, even giving me a free lunch as we talked about the dinner. Thanks to these two generous donors and others of the relay committee, we were able to provide a lovely dinner for 52 survivors accompanied by family and caregivers.
After the survivors were introduced and they took their first lap, it was good to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening, which was the result of the planning of the new committee. It is a great feeling to know that the relay will continue now under their able leadership.
As the editorial in the Eudora News stated last week, "Unfortunately, much of this energy originates from the struggle or death of community members from cancer." Until a cure is found, we continue to gather to remember those who are gone and to support our survivors.
Our community, especially team participants and committee members, can be proud of the effort they made to keep the Relay the community event it has become.
Dr. Kenneth Holladay's retirement became official at a party given in his honor this past Sunday at Kim's Barn. The doctor and his wife, Elisabeth, were surrounded by their children and grandchildren as well as several hundred patients and friends who gathered to pay tribute to their more than 40 years of service to our community.
As their son Matt so aptly said, "The time has passed so quickly." Each of their sons gave a short speech recounting stories of their experience of growing up in a small town with their father as the community doctor. It was wonderful to see the doctor's face beam as he introduced his grandchildren.
Not to be outdone by her sons, Elisabeth Holladay gave an impromptu speech of her own, describing her life as a doctor's wife. Knowing the community volunteer work that she has done -- she was named volunteer of the year in Lawrence several years ago -- we know that she has been not only a helpmate to her husband but a strong and unique individual in her own right.
As their son David suggested that perhaps the doctor might now find time for family and other pursuits, we can hope that both he and Elisabeth continue to be involved in our community and grace us with their wisdom and energy.
You couldn't help noticing the large signs about town this past weekend that read, "Welcome home, Melanie," which were on display to welcome Melanie Claggett home from her tour of duty in Iraq. Her family, friends and our entire community are glad to see her safely home, and we thank her for her willingness to volunteer to defend America's interests as a member of the armed forces. Now we await the safe return of her twin sister, Melissa, who is also in the military and currently serving in Iraq.
I understand that Melanie was distressed to leave Iraq knowing that her sister, Melissa, remained behind. We now hope and pray that she will also be safely returned to her family, friends and community.
In the meantime, we add our voices to a sincere and heartfelt "Welcome Home, Melanie."