Relay stays on stride with move inside, nears $40,000 goal
Three hours into Friday's De Soto Relay For Life, Heather and Kyle Reever and Jim Burney were laying out luminaria on the upper-level bleachers of the De Soto Community Center.
It wasn't where the trio thought they would be earlier in the day and the luminarias for the community's 10th Relay were different than those in the outdoor Relays that preceded it.
Still, Burney was confident the luminaria lit with luminescent plastic tubing would be just as impressive as the traditional candle-lit variety.
A few minutes before midnight Friday, De Soto Relay Committee Chair Rita Jones took a few seconds to reflect on how well the transplanted event was doing. She and the committee made the Friday afternoon decision to move the event from the USD 232 west campus stadium to the Community Center when forecasters called for more rain during the 12-hour event. The committee developed a backup plan after the 2005 Relay was washed out by the threat of rain and lighting.
"Everybody adapted very well," she said. "That the facility is very conducive for the Relay is wonderful. Everyone's cooperation helped a lot."
More importantly, the late site change didn't affect the De Soto Relay's fund-raising, Jones said. When the Relay ended at 6 a.m. Saturday with about 100 walkers still on hand to enjoy breakfast burritos from the De Soto Sonic Drive-In, the committee had raised $38,139 toward its $40,000 goal. The gap narrowed to $500 by Wednesday as teams continued to hand in pledges.
"We'll get there for sure," Jones said. "We have until the middle of August, so we'll get there. We should be able to do it without another major fund-raiser."
"I think the only thing the move impacted was luminaria sells. We didn't sell as many of them as we have in other years. But we had a great year of team fund-raising. Our teams did great."
Thirty teams participated in this year's Relay, team recruitment committee chairwoman Lori Murdock said. Moving the event indoors seemed to build a spirit of community, she said.
"I think we had 300 team members show up," she said. "It's like a big community party."
Jones said the top fund-raising team wouldn't be known until the final accounting night June 18.
One fund-raising event that proved popular was the Queen of the Relay competition. Men from teams dressed in drag to be introduced before fanning out through the crowd to collect money.
They returned about an hour later with $1,008. Lexington Trails Middle School teacher Bill Shaw won the competition by collecting $326.
Jones said it didn't seem as though as many walkers were lapping the gym as walked the track at past stadium Relays, but she said more did seem to stick around for post-opening ceremony activities.
One man who kept circling the gym at midnight and intended to keep walking until 6 a.m. was Dwain Goodman of Kansas City, Mo. At 87, he was the oldest walker in the gym. Goodman has been coming to the De Soto Relay for seven years after being recruited by Rita's father Scott Jones and Anita Woywod, with whom he worked at a Lenexa car dealership.
"Frankly, I owed Anita so many favors I couldn't say no," he said. "I'm used to walking long distances. I spent four years in the Navy during World War II. Hikes of 20 or 25 miles were the norm."
Several years ago teenage sisters Morgan and Michaela Frehe "adopted" him as he walked the track in the early morning hours, Goodman said. They taught him how to keep his feet fresh, he said.
"They told me about changing shoes," he said. "I brought three pairs of shoes with me. I don't know why it works, but it sure gives the feet a break."
He would have rather walked outdoors, Goodman said. But he echoed the sentiments of Jones, Murdock and many others in saying an indoor Relay was better than no Relay.
Still, Jones said she and other organizers were happy when after making the call to move the Relay that forecasters were right.
"I was glad to finally see it rain," she said. "It was the first year we prayed for rain."