This week the letter is S. S is for staying up all night.
Cancer Doesn’t Sleep and Neither Did We
Many people who attend the Relay For Life event are not aware that it lasts all night. After all of the entertainment and the Luminaria ceremony, Relay continues throughout the night until the sun comes up. Why do we Relay all night long and stay overnight? Because the Relay For Life event is designed to symbolize the journey of a cancer survivor.
Relay For Life starts at dusk and ends the next morning. The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotion, and mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment.
Relay begins when the sun is setting, symbolizing the time a person has been diagnosed with cancer. Immediately there is a lot of support. People rally to lend a helping hand, much like the Opening Ceremony at Relay when everyone cheers that first lap for Survivors.
As survivors start their cancer treatment, it’s hard and taxing, just like when the light of day fades into darkness. As midnight comes, teams continue to walk the track, but it gets harder as the walking continues into the 6th and 7th hour.
This time represents when a cancer patient becomes exhausted, sick, maybe not wanting to go on, possibly wanting to give up. As a Relay participants, we feel much the same way. We are tired, want to sleep, and may even want to go home, but we don't stop or give up.
The time just before daybreak symbolizes the coming of the end of treatment for the cancer patient. Things are beginning to look brighter, just like the break of dawn. A sense of hope emerges. The morning light brings on a new day full of life and new beginnings.
For the walkers who are making laps around the track, when the sun begins to come up, there is a strong sense of hope that they too can make it through.
As we make the final lap, as a cancer survivor gets the final clearance from their doctor, we celebrate and we cross the finish line together.
As our teams gathered together at sunrise on Saturday morning to make one final lap after walking all night there were 15 of the 18 teams that participated in Relay still there. These dedicated Relayers had sacrificed a night of sleep to let cancer survivors know that they support them in their fight against cancer. It is a way to fight back against cancer.
At the final ceremony just before we all left to go to our homes and hopefully get some rest, the fundraising totals were announced and awards were given out. At the Relay event over 4,300 dollars were raised. Thank you Polk County for coming out to support Relay For Life even in the rainy weather. Our total raised so far in 2011 is over 66,000 dollars, a new record for Polk County!
The award for our top fundraising team this year went to the Union Bank Purple Onions who raised 15,444 dollars. The award for top individual fundraiser went to Regina Lawry who raised 3,386 dollars. The award for top youth fundraising team went to the Acorn FCCLA Cupcakes For A Cure who raised 766 dollars. The award for top individual youth fundraiser went to Erica Goss who raised 405 dollars. Regina Lawry was awarded a Visionary Leadership for 2011 award by the American Cancer Society.
Relay For Life appreciates everyone who takes part. It takes a whole community working together to have a successful Relay, but we are especially thankful for those who come out and spend the night at Relay symbolizing the fact that cancer never sleeps.
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled An Arkie's Faith, using articles from the column.