When thinking about what I would write I thought it would just roll out of my brain, but I am finding it hard to even put it into words.
At 1:00 Chad and I met Janelle, Janice, and Alex at the track to set up! Shortly after Ivan came too!! We had to canopy tents set up with one large sleeping tent behind! It was great!!! Chuck and Janice surprised us with about 15 large 8x10 pictures they printed off of Charli to hang in the tent, it was an GREAT touch!! We had our decorations out and most of our things organized pretty well...and the rain game. OH NO!!! The wind blew, the rain came down, and my spirits came down :-(. After the rain stopped I looked up at the word CURE that stood so proud thirty minutes before...and it was knocked down - all the bags were drenched, soggy, and weak. I WAS SO SAD. I tearfully went up and tried to stand the bags back up, but had no luck. Minutes later the sun came up and baked the bags dry...and we were back in business!! Although the ink ran, Charli's face stood tall and served her purpose!!
So - during the rain we took as many decorations down to save them from the weather! We put them back up as more family started to arrive!! Denise made buttons out of Charli's picture for many of us to wear...that was a great idea!!
Our tent had a bake sale, sold bracelets, glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. We also gave away CURE CHILDHOOD CANCER pens we had made to give to all the survivors, as well as gold childhood ribbons for all, balloons, and face painting. Jody painted all afternoon, evening, and night...into the wee hours of morning. Someone said she was still painting at 4am - I didn't look at the clock to see when she finally turned her light off, but I know she did a lot of faces!! I know the kids loved it too!!
Chad and Amanda went to pick Charli up around 5:00 and she returned around 6:00 looking as cute as ever! Amanda did her hair and had her so pretty!! She of course was wearing her purple survivor shirt, white shorts, and her hair so cute!! Amanda put two piggy-tails in, curled the back of her hair and even her bangs I think!!! She was adorable :-)
Opening ceremonies started at 7:00pm. For this they asked that all of our family sit in the front with us. Generally they don't do this, but because we had such a great support system there this year, they wanted to show that off I guess!! And truly, we did! I counted over 25+ there from our family to support us. I can not even count the number of times I heard "I had no idea the Relay was like this". Like I have said before, you don't know until you come for yourself. And, you get out what you put into it...and so many from our family put so much into this event. I was so proud of everyone. While I was giving my talk Charli walked around and did her thing. All of a sudden a plane few over...and she ran around, pointing at the plane yelling "airplane, airplane!!" It was a great for everyone to get to see her doing so well - she knows how to entertain. Right at the very end she wanted me to hold her and she grabbed the microphone and said "hi" and the crowd loved it!
Charli received her survivor gift and we soon began the BIG lap. Charli walked the first lap all on her own, 1/4 mile!!! She did a great job letting both Chad and I hold her hand the entire time around the track. We were so proud and humbled to walk with her - she is my hero. When we made our last bend around the curve they crowd was clapping for all their friends/family survivors and that got Charli pretty excited!! All I had to say was 1-2-3 GO and she took off running about 50 yards to her Grandpa Preister and Aunt Amanda. It was an amazing site to see (video posted early today). It is a memory and sensation I will never for get. It felt like everyone was clapping for her and was so excited to see her doing what she does...living life! Aunt Amanda caught her and swept her up as I wiped the tears from my eyes I realized how lucky we are. Having our family there to walk that lap with us was amazing!! Sadly my brother and his family were not able to make it up from Arkansas - neither was Chad's sister and family from Colorado. Seeing all those red Charli's angels shirts following us and waiting for us at the finish line was indescribable...it is a memory I will never forget and neither will anyone who was there!! I wish everyone could have been there to see that for themselves!!
After the survivor lap we had the family/caregivers lap that we got to share with our team. When we made our way around we had many other friends find us to walk with us!! Thank you to all of those who found us - that meant so-s0-s0 much to us!! You will never know what you love and support means to us, that feeling of knowing that you are there to support us because you love us and care about us is the best feeling. After that - the night seemed to pass so quickly!
Charli didn't go home until 11:30 - wow!!! At 10:00 they had the night ceremony where the bags were officially lit up and we walked the track with a candle in hand. Charli had over 400 bags that spelt the word CURE in the stands. It was awesome to see her name serve as a beacon for the entire event that like - CURE, that is what we are all working for.
At midnight the awards ceremony took place and Charli's Angels rocked the house!! We received the Platinum Team award (second team ever!!) which meant we raised over $10,000!! We also received the largest family/friends team (money raised). I was also recognized for selling the most luminary bags for the event. It is amazing when we can do when it is for our own children, isn't it?!
I am proud and humble to say that by the time all final donations were turned in we raised $13,500! WOW!!!!! Can you believe that!! Which, I believe, takes our total of money raised in Charli's honor up to over $20,000...and on our way to reaching $25,000 by the end of 2008 I hope!! I am so blown away!
There were many fun events that went on through the night!!
I can't believe the people who stayed up all night for our team!! I had great friends Courtney and Heather who stayed very late with me too!! Charli's Great-Grandma Preister stayed up ALL NIGHT and walked a lot!!! Grandma and Grandpa Preister stayed up all night as well as Grandpa and Grandma Borg, Great-Aunt Janice, Janelle, and Denise! Aunt Rachelle was up all night too!! Aunt Amanda and Uncle Brad were there with us all night too - as well as her 2nd cousin Angela! All of Charli's Great Aunts/Uncles from the Preister side came, with the exception of one who was in California!!
I have to give major props to the Preister's tonight! Everyone came together and worked and made the night great!! I also have to thank my Aunt and Uncle who came up from Kansas!!
The closing ceremonies started a little before 7:00 where they announced our final total. The goal was $165,000 - and as you will see below - that was blown out of the water! WAY TO GO PLATTE COUNTY!!
I know I have said so much, and I could probably say more. The night/evening/event was just amazing. We were emotional all night, and didn't make it one lap around in the daylight without people stopping us to either thank us for sharing Charli's story, or talk about their story. I shed many tears that night as I realized just how lucky we are. God has blessed us, and although I am not sure what I have done to deserve it...I will spend the rest of my life trying to deserve what I have already been given.
Thank you to those who were able to attend - and those who were there in spirit. You have forever changed our lives and we thank you for it.
he loves her so much!
her special spot in the daylight...over 460 bags in this picture!
for raising over $10,000!!
what a site to see!
WHAT A SPECIAL NIGHT, A SPECIAL GIRL, SPECIAL EVENT, SPECIAL YEAR!! THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE!! THE NIGHT AND MEMORIES WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN OR TAKEN AWAY FROM US! WE HOPE EVERYONE ENJOYED THE EVENING AND COULD SEE HOW SPECIAL IT WAS TO US, AND WE HOPE IT WAS SPECIAL FOR YOU TOO!!