Amy, Cameron, Matthew, Jen and Ethan.
After the survivor laps, all heck broke loose with the weather. Crazy storm blew through for I think a half hour. We took shelter under the cover by the food stand where Ethan talked me into his second dinner. After the rain stopped, a huge rainbow appeared, which seemed fitting for the event.
At the event were a few professional soccer players. They had an area where kids could kick the ball to them. Ethan really wanted to do this. At first he was shy, but broke out of that fast. Afterwards, we started walking again and as we made it around the track, they switched to just kicking the balls with a bunch of kids in the middle of the field. Ethan was all over that. My Ethan. The Ethan we could sometimes not even get to pay attention. The shy Ethan. He was in the middle of the field "playing soccer" with all of the big kids and pros. He had a blast. So much so that he didn't care that I continued to walk around the track (not like him at all). Of course all this fun gave him a stomach ache.
Amy took the last two photos above with her camera after my phone died (thank you Amy!!). Ethan really wanted a photo with one of the pros, but was a little shy about it.
After I took Ethan home, I came back up to walk the rest of my good friend and Matthew's mom's time slot with her, which was until midnight. Part way through we were also joined by another of her friends, Meghan. We had fun walking around the track and laughing... it didn't really seem like we had walked for hours.
Here are some photos of the track during the luminary reading (where each team reads all the names of the luminaries that were dedicated through their team). There were so many luminaries around the track. It was beautiful, yet very sad. Many of those bags said "in memory of"... too many of those bags as a matter of fact. Listening to the names and the many readers voices cracking as they read was painful. You wonder how, at this day and age, there are record numbers of people dying from cancer. Record numbers. And for that matter, how is there such a rise in pediatric cancer? Why? And why is the funding for pediatric cancer research so small? Just two percent of the money from the Relay for Life goes to pediatric cancer research. Two percent.
One of Matthew's bags.
Luminaries lined the track and up in the stands they had luminaries that spelled out the word "hope."
As we walked around the track in the dark, for the silent lap, after the luminary readers were done, Jen cried quietly. As you can imagine, this was very emotional for her. There is no cure for Matthew's cancer. None. All that can be done, has been done. And yet, only two percent of of the money raised will go to pediatric cancer research.
BTW, Matthew was dropped from their insurance a year ago, before he had even turned four, because he had met his lifetime maximum. Think about that next time you hear mention of the much debated public health care...