She bravely fought cancer for over a year until February 2008. She refused to give in, refused to be labeled as someone who had cancer, until a week before she died. She is one of the strongest women I have had the pleasure of knowing.
So in 2008 I started Team Prairie Chicks and we got together again this year. We did a lobster raffle this year that raised over a thousand dollars on top of our pledges. Last year, it poured rain most of the night and despite being cold and wet, we made it to the end. This year, we had clear skies which made for a better night.
My favorite part of Relay is the luminaries. For five dollars, you can buy a luminary that lights the track all night. I bought a luminary for my grandmother and for my grandfather that passed away from stomach cancer in 1990.
At dusk, they hold a luminary lighting ceremony to give you the chance to reflect, remember and share in a moment of silence.
As I walk the track, I reflect on all the memories I have. All the sleepovers, the Christmases, the Canada Day celebrations, the family get togethers at my grandparents' huge 3 storey, 100+ year old house. My memories of Nanny's cooking, her quilting, her personality. My memory of her holding her head up high, never complaining as cancer ravaged her body.
It was those memories that kept my feet moving around the track. As my feet and knees began to ache, it was the memory of her struggle that pushed me around the track for one more lap.
It was my memory of me holding her hand, speaking softly to her as she drew her last breath that kept me there to the bitter end and keeps me doing this year after year.
Nanny Betty, I love and miss you everyday. I know you were with me last night and I couldn't have done it without you.
A huge THANK YOU to my friends. True friends are the only people crazy enough to stay up all night,walk till you get blisters, and drink unknown amounts of Timmies when they could be home in their nice cozy beds. I love you guys.
Another big thank you to the volunteers and event organizers for pulling off another awesome Relay. Bigger and better every year.
Thank you to every one who supported and pledged Team Prairie Chicks. Brooks Relay for Life raised over $241,000!!
UPDATE: Donations toward our Relay are permitted after the Relay has taken place. Brooks Relay for Life has raised over $253,000 to date! 699 participants rallied around the track. 62 survivors provided inspiration and hope. 84 volunteers made it happen.