The 2008 Brentwood Relay for Life wound to a close Sunday at a far more measured pace than it had sprung up 24 hours before. The participants who had arrived the previous day in a flurry of activity had long since hit their stride, and many just didn't seem ready to stop.
The annual marathon fundraiser for the American Cancer Society had attracted more than 100 teams and earned more than $260,000 for cancer research.
It was amazing, said Chairwoman Fran Bowman. We've almost made it to $1 million in four years. (Donations can be added to this year's total until Aug. 31, she added, by logging on to www.events.cancer.org/rflbrentwoodca).
Walkers had circled the track at Liberty High School's Ohmstede Stadium since 10 a.m. Saturday. They had also erected a sea of decorated pop-up canopies, guzzled thousands of bottles of water and shed tears for those lost to, or who were fighting, the deadly disease.
But now it was close to 10 a.m. Sunday, and here and there canopies began to drop out of sight. Under others, though, even as the closing ceremonies got underway, people sat kicked back in lawn chairs, laughing with their friends or sitting quietly, in no apparent hurry to leave.
The event had featured its many hallmark happenings, including the opening Survivor's Lap. This year the purple-clad legions included four-time survivor Oneida Bush,and stretched nearly all the way around the track.
Saturday evening's agenda included the dramatic Luminaria ceremony, at which Margie Duignan recounted her family's struggle with the cancer that took the life of her husband, TJ, this year at the age of 36. Amidst the anger, sadness and disappointment at TJ's loss, she said, came the blessings of unconditional love and devotion of friends and family.
People each touched us in their own, special way, said Duignan, who was accompanied by her daughter Skyler, 9, and her friend Hannah Rose, 8.Hundreds of glowing luminaria ringed the track, as though enveloping the proceedings in a warm hug.
Well-cared for at the Relay Caf