Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2005

Storms wash out De Soto Relay For Life

Mini relay’ planned for city’s July 4 gala

June 9, 2005

The drains near the De Soto High School track carried off the water Friday evening from the latest in the day's storms and the scheduled De Soto Relay For Life.

"It's extremely disappointing," said De Soto Relay For Life Committee Chairwoman Rita Jones. "It was a tough decision to make. A whole year of planning ended in a half-hour downpour."

Jones said she and the committee held out hope the forecasts that the storms would end in the afternoon were correct. When the weather broke in the early afternoon, organizers had time to set up the microphones and a few tents, she said. Then, it started raining again.

"We just couldn't take the chance of anyone getting hurt," Jones said.

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life doesn't allow rescheduling the events, but the De Soto relay committee was working on plans for what Jones called a "mini relay" before the city of De Soto's Fourth of July fireworks display, which also takes place at the athletic field.

Jones said the committee was planning a luminaria lighting ceremony and survivors' lap for just before the fireworks display, which traditionally starts with the onset of darkness.

Moreover, the committee was exploring the possibility that some of the 25 teams recruited for the relay could offer such things and games and food on the holiday.

The committee made the call to cancel the relay about 90 minutes before its scheduled 7 p.m. opening ceremonies. Jones said the afternoon's last thunderstorm left the bleachers wet and erased any possibility the football field would dry. But foremost among the committee concerns was the lightning that continued to crack overhead, especially with forecasts for more storms through the night.

A storm rolled through at the time the luminaria lighting was planned brought another round of torrential rain and lightning, while confirming the wisdom of the cancellation, Jones said.

So as members of the 25 teams ready to spend the night circling the track continued to show up, committee members shared the news while handing out roses to those planning to make the survivor lap.

But an important part of the relay was a success despite the cancellation. Jones said the committee has collected $24,060 so far for cancer research and support. Fund-raising will continue until mid-August, she said.

Jones said the committee also learned from this year's experience.

"We went eight years without any problems," she said. "Next year, we'll have a contingency plan."

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