WOW. What an amazing event to take part in. The sea of purple was overwhelming, bringing me to tears more than once.
All survivors wore purple shirts.
Opening ceremonies started around 7:00 with awards and honors given. The first lap was reserved for survivors only. Charli was the youngest, but sadly not the only child. We saw two other children under the age of 6 and I know there was at least one teenager that should have been there, not sure if he made it or not. The second lap was for caregivers and survivors. Grandpa and Grandma Preister came down and were able to take part in that lap with us. I was so glad to have someone there with us. Chad and I didn't give any thought to wanting family there for/with us until after the fact. The first lap was so emotional, everyone was clapping - for the entire lap. Of course it was happy clapping, applauding the strength and courage of all the survivors. It was bitter sweet for me. Before the lap all survivors spoke their name and how long they were cancer free into a microphone for all to hear. I said Charli's name "Charli Ann Preister"..."still in treatment". The person holding the mic interrupted and said "baby Charli Preister". That was hard for me to hear, I am not sure why that moment was hard...but it was. It was after that, that we took our first lap. We ended up taking a few laps around.
Charli was popular! Anyone who noticed she was in a purple shirt came over to talk with us and meet her. I know it breaks everyone's heart to see such a small child struck with this illness. We were blessed with so many kind words from strangers last night, and from those of you who we knew.
Grandpa and Grandma then offered to stay at the house so Chad and I could go back to the walk for the luminary ceremony. I am so glad we were able to do that. We did not stay to hear them say Charli's name, it was 11:00 and they were only to the "E's" they had so many names to say. However, we did get to take part in a touching poem, the silent candle-light lap, memorial song, and a memorial video.
It was a great experience. So sad to think of all the people effected by the event that brought all these people together.
Another time I will tell you about a very neat lady I met...Ben Hoover's mom, Launa. She lost her son five years ago, he was 18, to cancer. She did amazing things this year. Bless her heart. I am lucky to have met her.
I recommend that everyone take part in the Relay for Life in some way or another. I know that I have posted that they do not donate a lot of funds to childhood cancer, and that is correct. However, the feeling that you are left with after walking away will stay with you for life. At the end of the day, it is about the willingness to fight for a cure that is what matters.