Once Evie became a cancer survivor, I knew that we would participate in order to give back to this amazing community what they gave to us during Evie's battle with cancer. Mt. Horeb, as a small town, gave our family love, support, and a light in the darkness.A fundraising walk, which includes walking through the night, the Mt. Horeb Relay for Life continues to be one of the most successful, per capita, in the nation.
I'm honored to have served on a the committee a few years back, and our family team, Evie's Green and Speckled Frogs, raised well over $30,000 in 6 years of participation.Relay was always exhausting and always rewarding. Each year, as we would take down our tents, and pack up our campsites, I would think, "I'm not going to do this again; it's just too hard." But, after I would catch up on sleep, rehydrate and shower; I would remember that the benefits far out-weighed the costs.
Our Relay often included a fireworks display donated by Thundercat Pyros to honor the memory of someone they lost to cancer. That display was just as large as the Rhythm and Booms display in Madison for the 4th of July; yet you didn't have to park miles away, and usually you could easily see it from the comfort of your own home if need be.
Here are some of my favorite Relay memories from 6 years of Relay:
- Evie and her buddy Isaac leading the survivor lap.
- When our family would come from a distance: my mom, sister, cousins and their husbands from MN, and Jeff's brother, our sister-in-law, nephew and neice from ME; Jeff's cousins, aunts and uncles driving in from Madison.
- The Relay that I walked, literally, through the night for the first time and then went to the grand opening of the American Family Children's Hospital the next day.
- When Julie, our committee chair, played Judge Julie and convicted cancer, and one of the police officers in town cuffed cancer, put in the squad and drove him away...
- My mother-in-law winning the Dale Arneson award for her many, many years of dedication to Relay (long before Evie even came into our lives).
- When First Choice Dental sponsored our team and we got their logo on our shirts.
- Our fundraising fun: selling Brats in the Lot at Kalscheurs/Millers, Jeff's poker tournaments, my Evie's Courage Cards, Erick and Amy's Keg for a Cure.
- Walking through the night and talking to different people along the way; sharing our stories of why we Relay.
- The breakfast, generously served and donated by the Bender family, on Saturday morning.
- The luminaries; always beautifully decorated, always meaningful, always glowing through out the night, lighting our way as we walked in the darkness.
- The Luminary Ceremony; hearing the names read over the sound system at Grundahl Park...counting how many times I would hear Evie's name, Jim's, Isaac's, Ellen's, Gladys's...overwhelmed by the love of one community.
Our family hasn't been to the past few Relays because it has fallen the same weekend as WAGR Weekend (and you CAN'T miss that once you've been THERE)...I wish that I would have know that our last Relay would likely be our LAST Relay.
Still,I know that every last weekend of July, my heart will be in Mt. Horeb; walking a path that is aglow with candlelight and paved by the sweet dreams for a cure.