Thank You All For Relaying With Us!

The Relay For Life made the front page to share news of the stunning event…at least before the freaky lightning storm that tore at tents and saturated the field. The Relay had to end abruptly, but not before everyone was sheltered in the school cafeteria by the committee. While rain deluged and lightning flashed, we still held a Luminaria ceremony inside. I think it’s ironic that after an amazingly beautiful and fun-filled day at Relay, it all changed so quickly….isn’t that how it is for those whose normal happy-go-lucky days are suddenly changed by cancer? No one ever knows when the cancer storm will strike, and all we can do is offer shelter, solidarity and hope.

It’s impossible to tell in a short article how terrific our day was! t

The rainbow-hued balloon release was amazing. Our own Dar Lutz was left sobbing with joy after honoring the survivors in the opening lap. Those shared hugs and tears cut through the utter exhaustion and make everything worth it. To have young children come up to sing, to read poems, to bring smiles to those who battle cancer, is just too precious for words.

Food! Oh, my gosh, did we have food! There was enough food, drinks and treats to feed us all there for a week! A lot of people will be lightening up today after the feasting of yesterday. Is it true that calories don’t count when it’s for charity?? 🙂 Bless all of you who cooked, baked and kept us full!

Games! Dawn Ryan and her crew did a most AMAZING job of putting up a tent full of games, surprises and prizes for the youngsters. Many proudly carried plastic bags filled with water and a tiny goldfish won at Fish Pong. It was like an entire carnival under one tent. Great job!

Clowns! My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to Roger Ragan (a.k.a) Cleo, his grandson Freedom, Pauline Leacock (a.k.a. Opti) and Kandi Kiss. They are REAL clowns from Niagara Clown Alley and/or the Exchange Club Circus ( as opposed to the zany folks who were just “clowning around”). They graciously volunteered after an SOS from Pockets, and kept the youngsters enchanted with their tricks and balloons! It was wonderful to have cleo and Freedom join our Survivor Kids in the opening lap!

Jugglers! It started with trackside juggling demos by The Gravity Pirates at 5 p.m., but the Pirates set up base in the middle of the field to play with participants and amaze the crowd with their dexterity. The guys even juggled their way around the quarter mile track diring the team parade! The Pirates returned to Lockport after a really exciting performance during three shows at the Exchange Club Circus in February. Pirates Jeff Pollock, Greg Pollock, Tim Lovering and Kyle Fultz absolutely wowed the infield crowd just after dark, with audacious juggling of flaming torches!! Yep, they were playing with fire on the infield and there were cameras and cell phones snapping pictures in the night! These guys are as talented as they are nice, and came all the way from North Tonawanda to volunteer. Here’s hoping we see a lot more of them! Come to think of it…….it was a glorious, sunny day until they started doing the fire stuff. They finished and packed up their gear and left. Shortly after, the skies lit up with lightning! Hey fellas, you might want to consider a side career as rain dancers! Just kidding! When we were sequestered in the cafteria, I heard some people talking about the “awesome” fire juggling display and how you were so kind to let the young kids use your juggling equipment and helping to teach them to juggle. What memories you made for those kids!

Teamwork! I was so proud of the teams! We had a lot of new teams, with people coming from Orchard Park and North Tonawanda to join our Relay, as well as senior members of an altar rosary group! Then there were our loyal, steadfast teams who keep getting stronger every year!! We love them all! It takes a lot to organize people, arrange fundraising events and get them all under a tent on Relay Day. I salute the Captains who pulled it all together and paraded proudly around the track!

Costumes! In the early days of the Barker Relay, everyone dressed up in costumes to reflect the theme and it’s pretty much fallen by the wayside…except for Thee Barker Store’s Soda Jerks. They have wowed us over the years with walking retro cars in front of a Drive-in movie screen of the 50’s, ladies and pickle wenches from the rennaissance, dancing top hats and a fortune teller from Mardi Gras, and more! This year they had a white tiger in a cage, a liontamer in top hat, two tight-rope walkers with tutus and umbrellas, a balloon-wrapped rider on a giant purple tricycle and bubble-blowing clowns! The Gravity Pirates jumped right in with their traveling road show to juggle around the track. That was Eeyore pulling the decorated mini-buckboard with a bubble-blowing Optimist clown. Three cheers and more for always being the center of fun!! Carol & crew go all out!

What a committee! I can’t say enough about the driving force behind Relay, but I do want to say that the teamwork was awesome. It’s still not over for many. Early this morning I was talking to Dar Lutz, who was sifting through soggy, flattened luminaria bags, trying to retrieve precious family photos attached to them. There is teardown, cleanup, and 111 auction prizes to get to their winners (they were locked in the Field House before the storm). This after precious few hours of sleep the last three days! Dar and Marianne Currie-Hall spent the night there for two nights, in a tiny little camper, to watch over the tents. After the clean-up comes tabulations and reports and all the business part. Fundraising continues until August 1, so after all this weekend’s proceeds are tallied we won’t have a final count until all worplace matching dollars and fundraising money are in. You can still help; your donations are greatly appreciated! 

Being at Relay For Life is an amazing experience. Being stuck in a wheechair on a lumpy, bumpy grass field is not so much fun. Bless all the “angels” who kept offering assistance and just checking in to see if I needed anything! My very special thanks to Bob Austin and Rick Dent for taking care of so well through the busy event. After our cafeteria stint ended, Cathy Puff and Bob Noriega braved to rain to retrieve my purse from the middle of the fifty yard line so they could get to my car and drive it right to the door! My darlin’ friend Dar looks after me ALL the time!

Well, my borrowed gazebo and soggy contents have now been retrieved and I’m back in Barker taking it easy after 16 hours in a clown wig and makeup yesterday! A few dedicated members and leaders of our committee and Relay are still up at the Emmet Belknap Field cleaning up and calling prize winners! I wish all of them a little R&R before they’re back at their daily grinds on Monday!

Check back later tonight for some “memorable moments” of Relay!



One Response to “Thank You All For Relaying With Us!”

  1. Darlene Lutz Says:

    Our dear Julie,
    With all of your lovely sentiments for everyone; I feel the need to bring to light all that you have given to Relay. From year number one, you have been my number one. It would never have gotten off of the ground without you. How many conversations have we had and for how many hours? You are our gift, Relay’s gift…and you are precious. My love, respect, and admiration to all that you are, and all that you do. Sincerely, your Dar.

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