This past Friday, the Relay For Life was held in Fergus, and it was the first
time for "Team Darrel". After almost three months of going to meetings and
planning, the big day finally arrived, and what a beautiful day it turned out
to be. All week long, the weather reports had been most unfavourable, but
Friday afternoon was very sunny and quite warm. Setting up our base site went
smoothly, though the girls were constantly being distracted by the free popcorn
and cotton candy being provided.
Led by the Fergus Pipe Band, the emotional Cancer Survivors Lap around the
track was a large part of the official opening of the Relay. Seeing so many
people proudly wearing their yellow shirts walking the course reminded all in
attendance why we were there. Of course, I didn't need any help remembering
why I was present, but the Lap was something to behold regardless.
About 10PM, it was dark enough for the lighting of the Luminaries. For those
unfamiliar with them, luminaries are specially designed, flame resistant white
bags that line around the entire Relay course. They are purchased "In Hounour"
or "In Memory" of loved ones who have been touched by cancer. There were
several for Darrel, and it was something to see them finally lit up. The track
took on a completely different atmosphere once all the hundreds and hundreds of
them began to glow in the warm summer night. Many participants slowed their
pace to read the names of those lost at this point. I stood back a bit from
Darrel's luminaries for a time and was surprised, saddened, and very proud of
some of the comments that were made as people passed by. They didn't know that I
was there, or who I was, which made their words more special and meaningful to me.
As the theme for the night was "Say Aidos To Cancer", many of the team sites
(and members) were decorated with all things Mexico. Some were quite
elaborate, others not so much so, but almost every one of them had a Pinata!
The girls had went to the grocery store earlier with me in the day to select
what candy would go into each of their individual ones. Kira named her burro
figure 'Donkey' from Shrek, and Lauren's bull was 'Benny' from Dora the
Explorer. They rather impatiently waited until I gave the official go-ahead,
and then began gleefully pounding the heck out of them!
The last time I purchased a Pinata was for Kira's 7th birthday party back in
2004. She had all the girls in her class over, and they took turns attacking
it. Darrel sat in anticipation of the falling candy close by, far too close by
as it turned out. Even though we told him to move back, as some of the girls
swings were wild and all over the place, he continued to inch himself slowly
forward. Darrel would eventually take a wicked wack to the head that would
leave a bump for over a week. Kids just never seem to learn that sometimes,
parents DO actually know what we are talking about.
The next big surprise would come just before midnight, when it was announced
that Team Darrel had raised the most money in pledges, and we would be going to
the VIP Tent. The Falcon Lounge (named after sponsoring firm) had everything
you could possibly want in the middle of soccer field and more. Big screen
TVs, very comfy sofas, video games, and a well stocked fridge, and lots of
pizza and other assorted munchies.
Though it was fitting and seemed right, the fact that the movie they were
playing was "Tranformers", and the video game was Shrek SuperSlam did knock me
off balance at first. The organizers had no way of knowing what a Tranformers
fan Darrel was, and that it was the last movie I would ever take him too, but
there it was. As for Shrek, he would always want to play that with me, as he
knew he would probably win. I could often beat him in MarioKart or a few other
games, but try as I might, something about Shrek always seemed to escape me.
The strange irony that these would somehow be presented unknowingly to us as a
reward while operating under Darrel's name was not lost by myself or a few of the others.
Shortly after we returned to our site, in the distance we could see lightning
and hear the rumblings of thunder. Soon the storm would begin, and the rain
would remain with us for much of the remainder of the Relay. As the rain came
pouring down, many people scattered for cover, some left altogether, while
others soldiered on with their walk. Through it all, the majority of the
luminaries continued to burn on, as defiantly and against the odds as Darrel
did with his battle against cancer. It didn't matter that the track was now a
pool of mud, they just kept on going.
The storm would continue off and on over the next 4 hours, but finally let up
just before the Relay was to come to an end. By that point, there weren't too
many of us left, but the mood was still rather upbeat considering what we had
just been sent from Mother Nature. Though our clothes and possessions were
soaked, the weather had failed to dampen the spirit and reason for why had put
ourselves in that position in the first place.
It was truly an amazing night and experience, and I'm very happy and proud
how our Team worked together and how the entire event unfolded. I hope we will
be able to enter and achieve similar success next year too. Coming in first
overall was great, but it's not about us, and in no way should be. In total,
the Fergus Relay raised close to $42,000 from only 21 teams, which is
Thanks again to everyone who support any and all of Team Darrel over the past
couple of months. Without you, none of what we were able to accomplish would
have been possible. At this time I'd like to give special thanks to:
St. Joseph Catholic School - The school community has been very generous to
our family since the entire ordeal began, and came through once again with a
$500 pledge for Team Darrel.
Trevor and Kim, Darryl, and Sarah - Over the night, these friends brought in coffee
and donuts from Tim Hortons with out team. It certainly helped to keep us going.
Janet - For listening and sharing of memories of those we have lost.
Deanna and Anne - Though not at the Realy in person, made a contribution in
their own way to the event, to the fight against cancer, and of course...to Darrel.