Sunday, March 02, 2008

And Brave The Storm To Come, For It Surely Looks Like Rain

You can't just run away from cancer, but here in Nelson, they try.

This weekend was the bi-annual Relay for Life, a fund raiser for survivors, caregivers and supporters. Since Kimberly volunteers for CANTEEN, I joined in to help. The weather has been great and I reckoned it would be a fun way to spend the day. Actually, we were to join other groups for a relay that would last from 5pm Saturday to 8am Sunday.

As luck would have it, a huge storm was forecast. The rain started falling in the morning and looked to get much worse. I was sort of hoping they would cancel the affair.

It doesn't work that way, sir.

We drove over to the site, a huge park, arriving early to help set up camp. Already there was John, another volunteer. He is that guy we all know that has all the gear and tools and know how to get things done. Kimberly is the one who jumps in to assist. I am the guy who does what I can while trying not to get hurt.

Before long, the huge tent was raised and others began showing up as the rain continued. By the time the relay was to begin, we had about 10 in our group. There were barbque grills, tarps, food, chairs, sleeping bags...a regular bivouac.

Even though the rain was becoming a downpour, 3000 souls came and set up all over the field which was surrounded by a makeshift track. We were to walk or run in relay fashion so that someone from every team was always out there all night.

At the start, the storm barrelled into its 9th hour and got really bad. After a few minutes, the track became a total quagmire. Kids were sliding in the mud like it was Woodstock. Umbrelleas were inside outing themselves. Shoes and socks were abandoned.

About midnight, we waded through a foot of quicksand to take advantage of the free massages that were happening all night. My lady merely went over my back like she was brushing dust off me. Kimberly got a long deep rub... it's always that way.

This went on until 4 am. At that hour, Kimberly and I were taking our shift. I had the Ipod and she, Lauren's shuffle (thanks). She had on her gumboots, I was barefoot. A local entrepreneur set up a coffee kiosk a la Dr. Joe and we stopped for a latte as the rain subsided. The clouds parted and all we could see were a million stars over the city lights. Bob Dylan was singing "Rainy Day Women" in my head and thousands of people were
walking through the muck. Many still had on team costumes they wore at the onset. There were men in pink dresses, knights of the roundtable, witches, fairies, fatigues, police...on and on.

The whole scene was pretty surreal, yet wonderful.

We were still walking at 5 am when, in the darkness, Kimberly's friends from Hot Yoga begain a class. I could not believe anyone would be interested in that sort of activity on a mat of deep mud, but out they came, about 100 yogies, witches, fairies, police...and of course,Kimberly too.

Moon salutations all around. Sure was something to see.

By 8 am, the entire messy army was fed a continental breakfast and we all gathered for the final lap. The survivors walked first, followed by knights and fairies and witches and men in pink dresses, practically dancing to the music played over the loudspeaker..."Wonderful World", sung by Iz.

It was pretty tough not to cry. The old man would have loved it.

Kimberly raised about 250 dollars for the cause, thanks in part to family members Lauren, Rick and Barry. The brothers suspected I would take the money for personal use...Shame on them.

Then again, I think I could use a pair of gumboots.

There may never be a cancer cure, but the good people in Nelson certainly have it in their sights.


At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this seemed to be a nice way to spend an evening or two.
think how miserable people living with and dealing with cancer must feel everyday.
glad you had an opportunity to be part of something very special. Your participation makes a difference, not just for the evening but now for a lifetime.
nice job!

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool. Quite a fun concept to do it all night long too. It does feel great to do what you can for others - awesome to both of you! love - robin


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