Last week's event began at 3 p.m. The relay track was surrounded by a multitude of colorful tents, tarps, and awnings for those who planned to spend the night. A "trademark" purple and pink balloon arch signified the start of the walk. A local D.J. played music to keep participants energized and ready for a long walk. The relay committee organized fun activities for children, too; a hoola-hoop contest and water balloon tag game kept youngsters occupied and engaged. Area cancer survivors gathered at Applebee's Restaurant for a special luncheon.
Participants walked around CVPS' 0.3 mile-long track ringed by Mexican-style luminaria with the names and photos of loved ones who have died of cancer. Sadly, this year's event has produced more luminaria with the names of men and women, boys and girls, who have lost the cancer battle.
Yet, there was reason to hope-many participants in attendance were vibrant and courageous cancer survivors; they served as living reminders that our communities, our families, are not immune to the disease.
Rutland Regional Medical Center graciously provided staff for on-site healing reiki sessions, delightful foot massages, and soothing back massages for both survivors and caregivers. Hannaford Supermarkets and its employees were on hand, once again, to provide food and beverages to walkers. G.E. Jetsetters volunteers sported yellow t-shirts; the General Electric team was a top company fundraiser and sponsor of this year's relay.
Ingrid Gallo, co-chairwoman of the event, said the relay group raised approximately $120,000; she expected to meet the local goal. But she encouraged local residents to continue the fight by donating online at www.relayforlife.org/rutlandvt.
During the Relay for Life's closing ceremonies, June 28, several hundred attendees followed a kilt-clad bagpipe player piping "Amazing Grace" through a final walking course in the parking lot of Central Vermont Public Service.
With so much individual passion-woven together with the amazing power of faith, advanced scientific research, and education-on display in Rutland last week, there's reason to hope that, perhaps, in the not too distant future, the scourge of cancer will be a relic of times past.