One way to stand up for those fighting against cancer is to join a Relay for Life walk. My family remembers and honors many of our family members who have had cancer.
Our Ocean City, NJ, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, June 22, 2012, was almost a complete wash-out weather-wise.
The local organizing committee worked hard to pull this event off, but lightning, thunder, and rain thwarted attempts to run the usual all-night Relay.
Volunteers started signing in Relay teams at 4 pm, but dark, threatening clouds hung in the sky above us. It was not a question of if it would rain, but when it would rain and for how long.
Local South Jersey Channel 40 weatherman hero, Dan Skeldon, warned that we would have intermittent thunderstorms and rain throughout the evening. Still, we signed in teams and watched the skies. We advised teams not to set up their tents, but a few intrepid groups managed to get theirs up despite the theatening weather.
Thunder and lightning flashes became more frequent, and the rains began, so we moved inside the Ocean City Civic Center to wait out the storm.
The crowd inside dwindled a bit as some of the
faint-hearted Relayers called it quits and left for home. The rest of us participated in the hastily reorganized, but memorable, opening ceremonies.
Within the hour, the rain abated, and Relayers began to walk the track. A number of teams (mostly the teens) put up their tents on the football field.
My team, the NJ Krewe du Kroey, departed for local headquarters a few blocks away at the first signs of thunder and lightning but made their way back to join me on the track as soon as the rain stopped. Several
pansies members of the team decided to stay home and collect those long dormant dust bunnies under the beds that were now demanding immediate attention. Oh well, their loss.
While the NJ Krewe du Kroey team dawdled in a warm, dry house, I talked with photographer Brian M Richards. At first, I thought he was with the The Press of Atlantic City, but when I talked to him, he revealed that as a volunteer event photographer, he goes to seven or eight Relays a year, takes pictures, and posts them online for the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Relay followers. You can find more pictures of the Ocean City Relay here.
Brian choked up, and his eyes reddened and filled with tears when I asked him why he went to so many Relay for Life events. “I have lost nineteen family members to cancer, including my mother, father, and youngest brother. Coming to Relay for Life and taking pictures helps me remember and honor them. Cancer is a terrible disease, and this is my way to fight against it.”
Later, I saw a familiar Relayer, Jimmy Walker, walking the track in his HOPE Relay for Life T-shirt. Each year we see Jimmy at the Ocean City Relay, and he faithfully walks all night long despite having to walk with a cane. Just his presence makes us smile and encourages us to complete more laps than we had originally planned to walk. We admire his stamina, his determination, and his loyalty to Relay for Life.
I asked Jimmy why he participates in Relay for Life, and he responded with a broad smile, “I do this because I want to encourage others in their fight against cancer.”
A primary function of the Relay for Life is to raise funds for cancer research. Each team gathers sponsors and donations before the Relay, but many also do on-site fundraisers. Our team planned to do face-painting, sell popcorn, and do the Great PheeBee Blueberry Funnel-Cake-in-the-Face-Fiasco-Fund-raiser. These on-site fund-raisers for the Krewe were #EpicFail, not because of lack of effort, but because that thunder and lightning storm kept battering us. (Anyone have any ideas for what to do with 100 bags of popcorn we couldn’t sell?)
Because the Relay crowd had thinned out significantly, we decided to save that delicious blueberry funnel cake for another fund raising event. Then we thought we should just eat it on the spot. Hmmm. Where did it go?
Other teams had fund-raisers planned, too. Delicious looking sandwiches, cupcakes, and boardwalk pizza appeared for sale at tables around the track. Food always makes for a good fund-raiser.
One twelve-year-old boy designed a “Candyland” theme for his fund-raiser. This site was popular with the younger members of the NJ Krewe du Kroey who stopped by to ponder the choices. Ten pieces of candy for $1.00. What a deal and for a good cause besides! What parent (or grandparent) could argue with that?
But the rain was not finished for the evening, and dark clouds once again rolled over the Ocean City High School football field and track. And once again, Relay activities moved inside the Civic Center for the remainder of the event.
While the rain definitely dampened the Relay, it could not snuff out the spirits of the Relayers. Talk has already started about next year’s Relay! Maybe you can join us. We have asked Dan Skeldon to reserve better weather for us.
Photo: Opening Ceremonies for Relay for Life
If you have lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance to cancer, you may want to join a Relay for Life in your area. These Relays are held all over the country and world with teams of people raising funds for cancer research. Find a Relay team in your area here.
Relay for Life gives a unique opportunity to remember those family members, friends, and acquaintances who have lost their battle to cancer; to pray and hope with loved ones who currently battle cancer; and to celebrate the lives of those whose cancer has been cured or is in remission.
Our local Relay will be held on June 22, 2012 at the Ocean City (NJ) High School track. Last year approximately 75 teams participated in the Ocean City Relay for Life, and we hope for that many teams or more again this year.
The opening ceremony sets the tone for the Relay (an all-night event with people walking the track from 6 pm to 7 am, only taking time off for short naps in tents on the field). It is a night of sadness and joy; a night of walking, talking, and bonding with family and friends; a night of music, games, challenges, contests, and outrageous silliness.
The cancer survivors’ walk, one of two most poignant events of the evening, comes first. Cancer survivors, wearing purple survivors’ shirts, walk the first lap, giving proof that cancer can be beaten. Relay participants stand along the side of the track and cheer, recognizing the sheer determination and courage it takes to fight cancer.
The second poignant event occurs after dark when luminaria (brightly decorated white paper bags with battery powered candles representing all those family members and acquaintances who have lost their battle with cancer) line the perimeter of the track. These luminaria stand in memory of and in honor of moms, dads, babies, children, teens, grandmoms, granddads, aunts, uncles, friends, and other acquaintances. The stadium lights dim; the crowd stands in silence in memory of loved ones lost. Memories and tears flow.
My extended family has four Relay for Life teams: The Krewe du Kroey (the original team in Texas); NJ Krewe du Kroey (my team); the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey; and the hardest working team, Kroey’s Teens against Cancer of Burleson, TX, led by my great niece 13-years-old Phoebe Chambers. The TX and SC teams have already completed their 2012 Relay. (You can read more about the origins of Krewe du Kroey here.)
We participate in Relay for Life because we have lost family members to this terrible disease:
my late husband, Victor Patrick Hall;
my great niece, nine-year-old Joanne Theresa King;
my nephew, Darrel Varnam;
my brother-in-law, Don Millward;
and several of my mother’s sisters and brothers.
Friends, too, are battling cancer or have lost the battle.
This year, the Queen Bee of the Texas Relay for Life, Miss Phoebe Chambers, my very talented and charming great-niece, will rejoin the NJ Krewe for the 2012 Ocean City Relay. Pheebs will do anything
for attention to raise money to fight against cancer. Her grandfather, Robert Kroelinger, my brother, lost his battle to cancer two years ago.
This year Pheebs will do a grand repetition of 2010 Ocean City blueberry funnel cake
fiasco fund-raiser. This event should not be missed. Aunt Patty (cancer survivor) certainly enjoyed smashing Phoebe in the face with the blueberry funnel cake helped the last time Phoebe got stuck with this job volunteered to do this particular fun and tasty fund-raising event. So it was messy. So what?
Just throw some of that folding green stuff in Phoebe’s beach bucket and watch the
humiliation fun begin. This is a quiet fundraiser other than the laughter and catcalls, so no coins!
I think it’s my turn this year…to
manhandle the funnel cake, that is. HeeHeeHee. Watch out, Pheebs, I’m gonna getcha!
Oh well, Phoebe is a great sport, as well as an enthusiastic fund raiser for Relay for Life. Together with her Kroey Teens against Cancer she helped raise over $10,000 for cancer research. That’s a lot of funnel cakes in the face!
If you want to support this on-going cancer-fighting effort, come join us on Friday night, June 22, at the Ocean City (NJ) High School football field, or look for a Relay for Life in your area. I can guarantee you will laugh, and you will cry. The emotional impact that cancer creates when a loved one is lost to this horrible disease is high, but together we can work towards a cure. The Relay provides a bit of catharsis for all of us.
YOUR TURN: Have you lost someone to cancer? Have you found a Relay for Life near you? What was your Relay like? Did the Relay help you cope with your loss?
It all started as a joke.
It was a rare reunion when all of my siblings and their spouses boarded the Holland America Lines’ (HAL) MS Zuiderdam for a Caribbean cruise ten years ago. This cruise brought together long-separated family members from New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, California, and Oregon.
Of course, we joined all the
silly onboard games and entertainment activities on the Big Z.
Sister-in-law, Patty, and I donned
ridiculous giant raisin costumes and joined a few other foolish spontaneous nerds talented individuals in a wretched an unequaled rendition of the California Raisin’s, “I heard it on the grapevine.”
Not to be left out of the
hysteria fun, Brother Bill, wearing only a beach towel wrapped around his middle (okay, so the towel hid his bathing suit), joined an elderly ravishing group of beauties ladies singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.” Turns out, Bro was the one they wanted to get rid of! At the end of the song, they had had enough of him, so they took their own towels and swatted him off the stage.
Some of this was just too funny for words. Really. You just had to be there.
But the piece de resistance was the build-a-ship contest.
For this contest, each team had to build a ship that would float in the ship’s swimming pool. We gathered stuff, and I mean stuff, from everywhere on the ship: plastic bags, wire hangers, empty wet-wipes tubs from the hand sanitizing station, and any other floatable items that we could finagle from the HAL crew. The competition was stiff, but we knew we had a winner. After all, we had two ex-Marines, Brother Bob and Brother Bill, to construct our
winning entry masterpiece.
The rules specified that you had to name your ship, make up a song, perform a skit, and do other
embarrassing funny things to make people laugh and cheer. The teams that got the loudest boos cheers got bonus points in the competition. We were all for that, because we were never known to be a quiet, normal family. Ha, far from it!
We decided to name our ship the Kroey Dam, a shortening of our German-Alsace-Lorraine-Swiss-French family name, Kroelinger. The Kroey Krewe cheer became “Caw, Caw, Caw.” And we sang a song that is way too
embarrassing long to print here.
We had it made in the shade. People (well, at least our family members) stomped, cawed, clapped, and yelled, making enough noise to awaken alert the captain at the helm that a winner would soon be chosen.
Here’s the Contest:
Test One. The Float Test. How long will the ship float?
Each team launched its
duct-taped mess ship in the pool. One by one, ships sank. Of course the Kroey Dam passed with flying colors, along with two other lucky abominations contraptions ships.
Test two. The weight test. How many cans of
beer soda pop can each ship carry without sinking? Can by can, the weight increased on each ship, until….
There was no joy in Kroey Ville that night. The mighty Kroey Dam sank at three six-packs, out-canned by one solitary
beer soda pop can.
At least we did get a consolation prize: a blue coffee mug with a big white Z on it. And people did laugh
at us.and cheer.
And that was the end of the Kroey Dam and its
infamous Krewe. We retired to the pool for the rest of the trip, cawing quietly to ourselves.
Little did we know that within a few years we would resurrect the Kroey Krewe for less than happy purposes.
When my younger brother Bob, aka Refrigerator Bob or Texas Bob, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma, we rallied around him and fought back against cancer with him.
The Texas Krewe du Kroey formed to walk in an all-night American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Burleson, TX. In 2009, the NJ Krewe du Kroey formed, and we (well, some of us) walked all night in Ocean City, NJ. The following year, the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey team walked all night in Summerville, South Carolina. Daughter Lisa joined a Relay in Folsom, California.
We relay because we want to see a cure for cancer in our lifetimes. We relay for TX Bob, for 9-year-old great-niece Joanne King, for my late husband Victor Hall, for my brother-in-law Don Millward, for my nephew Darrell Varnam, and for other family members, friends, and associates who have fought bravely but lost their fight with cancer. We cannot forget them. So we relay each year to show our solidarity as family and friends in fighting against this truly evil disease.
If you have lost family members to cancer, Relay for Life provides a forum for you to remember, celebrate, and fight back. Consider joining a Relay for Life in your area.
Watch this video to get a sense of what Relay for Life is about.
Have you participated in an ACC Relay for Life? What were some of your impressions?