When the tarp is rolled up at the Clay County YMCA, the 2009 Clay County American Cancer Society's Relay For Life 12-hour event ends, but not the spirit of the event.
Participating in Relay is a unique experience, for whatever the initial reason to join might be.
A work assignment brought me to Relay. Although incredibly busy at the time, I am so thankful I was able to meet and work with everyone connected to the local event.
This marks my family's fourth year of participating. We start looking forward to it every December.
This was the first year for many of The Brazil Times' "Clark Kent Super Group" team's involvement in Relay For Life.
We're an eclectic and busy bunch here at the paper. Although we work together, many of us haven't had the time to really get to know each other.
Some of my fellow co-workers joined the Relay team because cancer has previously affected their lives, others because it's a good cause and would be fun to do and a few admitted to joining because they were gently prodded into it.
A wonderful thing happened during the weeks leading up to the May 8 event. Laughter filled the office as we discussed fundraising ideas. We supported each other, trying to figure out how to make things happen and worked toward seeing our team succeed.
We got some of our community's best bakers involved in a cookie contest.
We organized a carnival to raise funds.
Two employees sacrificed their hair and one is considering doing it next year, several took a soaking with water balloons, one made special hair ribbons and others organized special games, food booths, an auction, entertainment and other events.
And those who weren't part of the team, they supported the efforts of those who did.
We also talked candidly about how cancer affected our lives.
Being a part of Relay allowed us to get to know each other better.
We worked together and became more like a family.
The experience impacted several of my teammates so much they are continuing to collect donations for ACS. (If you want to support Relay For Life, please stop by The Times office during normal business hours to make a donation until Aug. 31.) They join many other "Relay-ers" who are continuing to carry on the spirit of the event.
That is what makes Relay such a unique experience. It unites people, creating for many a second support system, a second family.
For me, it's a wonderful feeling to see fellow Relay teammates, often months later, and be greeted with hugs and a smiles.
If you participated in Relay, thank you for your time and effort and I look forward to seeing you again next year.
If you haven't been a part of Relay -- whether as an individual or part of a team -- come join us next year.