Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Street party to continue Relay spirit

May 4, 2006

Don't you just hate it when the computer eats your stuff? At 7 a.m. Monday -- the day this column should be on its way to The Eudora News -- I frantically search for half of my pre-written column only to find this monster has grabbed it, misplaced it, displaced it or otherwise disposed of it. So, it's back to the edges of my mind that still hold some of the content, I hope.

I feel like a kid telling the teacher the dog ate her homework.

Luckily, it won't be hard to re-construct because it concerns one of my favorite themes, the Relay For Life that has been part of this community for the past eight years.

As The Eudora News reported several weeks ago, we won't be sponsoring a Relay here in Eudora this year; but a group of die-hards -- including a past committee team, and Katelyn Abel's team of herself and school chums -- will be joining the Baldwin Relay instead.

The official title of their Relay is "American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Baldwin City, Eudora, Marion Springs and Vinland."

It was with sadness and nostalgia that we abandoned the Relay in our community. Those of us who had been part of its planning since the beginning were especially sad to see it end. But as I mentioned in a letter to prospective donors this week to support our teams going to Baldwin, "Our community has been very generous these past eight years, and many of the committee needed to move on to family obligations and other charitable duties as well."

This year as we keep the spirit alive by joining with Baldwin City and the surrounding area, I remember our beginnings when we initially joined with Baldwin, taking teams to support Rose House, who was going through treatment at the time. I remember Rose being there for the program that evening. She arrived a bit shaky and completely bald, but still looked beautiful. I don't remember how much money we raised, but that seemed secondary to supporting Rose through her long ordeal, which ultimately had a happy end. Today, Rose goes about her business each day looking and feeling healthy. The great miracle is that she is healthy.

Others came to fill her place as we supported other survivors, not the least of which was Brooke O'Grady who took center stage for several years as she battled this insidious disease and eventually lost her struggle. Other survivors come to mind who have shared their journey, some sharing not only marriage, but also this same illness like W.C. and Dorene Carter, Mel and Nina Wehner and Virgil and Maxine Foster.

So many faces in my memory. So many sights and still photos as I close my eyes and call to mind those survivor laps when we sent them off to the music of Junkyard Jazz playing "When the Saints go Marching In" and brought them to the end of their lap with a standing ovation that was rowdy, raucous and wonderful.

We are hoping some of those survivors will follow us to Baldwin City, but it is always hard to recreate such moments that perhaps will never happen again; however, they will not be forgotten in my memory nor those of many others. Even now as I recall them, a tear sneaks its way down my cheek.

We were fortunate to have at least 70 survivors who came to join us and celebrate each year and most of them are still with us, especially the "kids" who at last report are growing up, doing well and enjoying life. Hopefully for them, being part of our Relay will be a lasting memory of celebration -- a special time and a special moment in an otherwise dark time of their childhood.

Reflecting on this makes the hard work of putting together those past eight Relays not only worthwhile but inspirational as well.

To celebrate those years and to raise funds to support the teams that are traveling to Baldwin City, we are planning a community block party from 6 to 10 p.m. June 3 on Main Street in Eudora. We are hoping the community will come out to celebrate the eight years they gave generously to support a cause and to create a Relay that was unique, fun and profitable.

There will be food provided by Cutter's Smokehouse, music and games for the kids and more. Come join us in continuing to support the event that has done so much and continues to do so much to find the cure that will some day rid us of this disease that strikes our families and friends. See you there.

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