2014 Relay for Life is complete. Wow, what an exciting time we had, and what a time for reflection.

Cancer Can Die!

Why does the Dawes Family join with the HEARTS OF HOPE team at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in Greenwich, NY?

We Relay For Life!

To ad-lib on Melissa Etheridge’s “I Run For Life”, this is what we are doing:

We relay for hope, we relay to feel
We relay for the truth for all that is real
We relay for your mother, your sister, your wife
We relay for you and me my friend
We relay for life

This year was a little different — at least going into the event. Charlotte and I where the only team members to stay overnight this year, but next year “will be back to normal”, quoting team captain Lois Melito.

Team HEARTS OF HOPE

L to R: John, Noel, Meryl, Lucy, Audrey, Lois, Eric, Charlotte, JoAnn, Toby

The HEARTS OF HOPE team is made up of three families, but we will surely and lovingly accept new team members.

Lois Melito – Team Captain
Eric Melito
John Elliot
Audrey Elliot
Noel Dawes – Survivor
Meryl Dawes – Survivor
Toby Dawes
JoAnn Dawes
Charlotte Dawes – Survivor
Lucy Dawes

At the start of the event, Team HEARTS OF HOPE were honored with a “Bronze Team” award and yard sign, signifying our team had raised over $2,500, in all the team raised $3,600 that will go toward care and support for cancer patients and their caregivers, as well as directly to research for a cure to this heinous disease. The Greenwich, NY Relay for Life event raised a total of more than $71,000 in 2014! Charlotte was the #2 fundraiser in this event with $3,100 – YOU GO GIRL AND SHOW YOUR SUPERPOWER!

Charlotte on Daddy's ShouldersThe first lap of the track is always the Survivor Lap – something that our team’s three survivors join in with. After the first lap, caregivers are asked to join the survivors out on the track, and on the third lap the relay event is open.

A special moment during this part of the event is something that I have done with Charlotte every year in the 5 events that we have been to Relay, and that is to carry her on my shoulders during the survivor lap. I actually had a thought about this whilst carrying her this year, “Why do I carry her, and how many more years can I do this?”

My answer:

I carry her because when she was sick there was nothing I could do to make it right. I could not take away the cancer, I could not prevent her from being sick from the chemotherapy. I was not able to do for my little girl what a Daddy should do, protect her from the evil of this world. But with God’s help, He carried me through that time, one single set of footprints in the sand. So now, I carry her, to show her just how strong her Daddy is, to show her that I will protect her, care over her, love her like no other person except her Mommy can do. I carry my daughter because we are a team and in doing so I show myself that I will never let this little girl down.

SUPER HERO TRIO!Later in the evening, the floodlights are turned off, and the Luminaria Ceremony begins. A Bagpiper from the NYS Corrections Pipe Band lead a lap of the track as the Relay Torch was passed from one survivor to the next. The willowing tunes coming from the pipes, with the only light that of the torch and the luminaria allows for great reflection on those whom have lost the battle with a disease that will one day have a cure. Too many have gone, too many have been lost. As the survivors reach the end of the lap, the entire relay attendance falls in behind them in solemn silence, walking a lap to honor those named on the simple white paper bags, decorated to honor the memory of a fallen warrior or recognize a warrior who has won or is still fighting.

Eric Melito wasn’t planning on attending this year, with a scheduling conflict for a craft show. We were pleasantly surprised when he turned up about halfway through the evening. What a fantastic trooper and team member!

Nearing midnight, once the rest of the team had said goodnight and departed, Charlotte and I had the opportunity to partake in cupcakes and ice cream. This is a Relay tradition, and so wonderfully donated by Hannaford and Stewart’s Shops.

Charlotte and I then got into the tent, at about 1AM. We read some stories, and then we lay down to try to get some sleep. This was hard as the DJ was spinning music all night, and there were games happening with many teens and adults interacting with each other. Charlotte seemed to get some good solid sleep, but I found it hard and just catnapped a few times.

Fundraising CertificateIn the morning, at around 6:30AM the Closing Ceremony took place. There was about 50 people still at the event, and as Charlotte was looking out of the tent window to see what was happening, then announced two people being recognized for their individual fundraising. Charlotte was awarded this certificate for her efforts.

All in all, this was a great Relay for Life. We are all looking forward to 2015 Greenwich Relay for Life. If you would like to know how to support our team, or an individual team member, or how to join our team, please let me know.