At least I had made a list...
Had a major "where the hell did I put it" attack. I had been asked at the last minute to bring my other tent (I have 3). I found one, just where I thought it would be (downstairs) but could not find my brand new tent. (had bought it for the 2003 relay, but ended up not using it cuz I had the flu). Could have sworn it was in the hall closet. Not there. Sleeping bags and camping mat were there. Looked all over the place. Finally found it in the other closet. Grrrr...
Car packed. Off to Redwood City. I made it there around 11am, but spent the next half an hour trying to find a parking space. Not only was the Relay being held at Sequoia High School, but a girls' basketball tournament. I ended up parking two blocks down the street - so I just grabbed both tents and straggled over to the site.
Found our "campsite". Deanna, Amy, Irene & Denise were busy decorating the open tents with netting and sea creatures. Tiki torches were up, along with our team sign "Redwood City Cares" and our "In Memory of" board. KBell was busy with the snowcone machine - team was selling snowcones to raise more money.
This year, the relay was not held on the track, but on the campus grounds. Lots of grass and enormous Sequoia trees. It was actually a lot nicer - more shade, lots of trees and flowers. Luminarias eventually lined both sides of the relay trail.
It took me over an hour to get the tents set up. Forgot the tarps. Oh well. Garbage bags didn't want to stay flat - a bit windy. Yes, the area was grassy, but that was just the top layer. Anything below the grassy layer was hard baked clay stuff. Rock? Anyway, trying to pound in the 8 tent stakes took forever. Majority of the metal stakes are now "zee" shaped. Smashed finger. Oh, and sliced thumb from trying to get the arch pole in the stupid socket. My new tent was very easy to put up. Denise was kind enough to pound in the stakes for the 2nd tent. All done. =)
Karen, Gayle, Kyle & Alani showed up around 2pm. Kids just loved the tents. We did a couple of laps together - Kyle wanted to run so K kept track of him. G & I kept track of Alani. Had to stop and pet all the doggies. BIG, gentle dog named Jacob (newfoundland???) sort of scared her - he was definitely much taller and wider than she, but she came around and gave him a few tentative pats on the head.
Kids had a blast in the tent. Yelling and shrieking. Gayle was apologizing to teammates who were lounging around. They all laughed - and said that they hadn't really noticed. Three of them are rec leaders for parks and work with kids all day - didn't phase them a bit. We did a bit more walking - Karen promised Kyle a sundae if he walked 5 laps. I think it worked out that 3 laps made a mile. The next campsite had build your own sundaes and brownies for sale. The chocolate bundt cake was delicious - and Alani liked the cake much better than the sundae. I felt like I was feeding a hungry little bird - her mouth was open just wanting more.
We ended up walking down the block to the Hawaiian Drive In for dinner. Firefighters were cooking hamburgers, but we wanted kahlua pork. Yum... Kids had saimin and chicken katsu (come to think of it, chicken katsu is just like nuggets). They were going to stay for the luminaria ceremony at sunset, but the kids had hit the witching hour. OOOH time for them to go home.
As the sun sets, there is a brief ceremony - somebody sharing her fight with cancer and then all the survivors come to the stage and stand there to be recognized for their fight. A torch is passed down the line. It stops with a lady named Wanda who has survived the longest - she had been diagnosed in 1969. All the lights are turned off and with torch in hand, she leads the survivors first and then everyone else along the luminaria lit trail.
The luminaria ceremony is one of the most beautiful and emotional events that I have participated in. The trail is lined with candles in white paper bags - some with just messages like "In Memory of" or "In Honor of" and a name. Some bags have been decorated with photos and colored drawings. Many have messages of encouragement and of how much a person is loved ...and missed. Mom's had her photo and just a simple "We love you mom and miss you so much". Saw "In Memory of Genie Fon" and "In Memory of Barbara Greene" and of "In Honor of Dale Switzer", "In Honor of Corinne" and "In Honor of Sandy Shaw" - all coworkers.
Saw several with a lady's photo - some said "In Memory of" and one poignant one said "Relay for Life 2004 - She walked here last year".
The candles are 15 hour votives instead of the 3 hour type, so they stayed lit all night long. It was very peaceful to walk in the early hours of the morning - looking up the path of little lanterns, saying "HI MOM!" everytime I passed her luminaria. Said "Hi to grandpa, auntie mako, uncle tosh, and cousin Irene"
Firefighters did pancakes for breakfast again =)
At closing ceremony, it was announced that the Relay had raised over 82K dollars!!!! Not only had Kathy brought in the 2nd highest money total, but our team had come in 2nd (by only $38!!!) in raising money (not quite 10K - but you can make it over 10K by donating here...)
Thank you for all your support!!!