Well, our 9th year of Relay for Life is complete and I have St. John’s parish to thank.  Over the years I have shared with you many of the inspiring stories of the folks we meet during the event.  This year was a bit unique and therefore so must this report.


One week before Relay began the event had only raised $89k of its $145k goal, but by Monday stretched towards it with $96k raised.  We have an, unofficial, Saturday event total of $140k, with monies still coming in, I faithfully believe the events’ goal will be reached.


In a world that seems to be gasping for hope, hope had a large ever present around us.  Relay 2019 was a holy audible one in the following ways:

Squeaking of the many wagons wheels carried loads and loads of the equipment needed to make a successful event from hauling tents, lights, chairs, snacks as well as goods to share/sell, and items, like our new angel wing ornaments by Mary Wilson, crafted with love, care and prayers to be sold and raffled

The sound of music that set the rhythm for the evening to come, the mood when it was time to remember, and delivered the stamina to carry us to the finish line

Feet pounded the track whether walking, running, dancing or behind a wheelchair lap after lap

Exclamations!! at the annual mug reveal- Thanks to Susi Byers mug donations every year folks flock to see the newest addition to their collection

Laughter- on the track from re-acquainted souls of old or newly met now bonded from 21+ hours together in unity and even during the seemingly unending evening hours under our very own tent-(Mpop-pop)

Children gleefully playing- ball with family and friends in the center of the football field, enthusiastically in the bounce house or unabashedly rippin’ around the track

Gasps from walkers as their beads, used to count their laps, had spilled to the ground

Popcorn- popped along with the heavenly smell that brought in the customers.  Thanks, once again, to the Brotherhood for loaning it to us

Generators-hummed in the darkness to bring light our tent and/or the larger track

Clicking of lighters- lighting each candle of every luminaria purchased in honor/memory of those we love and those we have lost to cancer that lined the entire oval of the track

Tears-  (the most audible of all our 9 years participating)  heard from groups marching in step linked arm-in-arm, family members standing still and embracing, and solo warriors walking in quiet prayer during the solemn luminaria lap

A dog making a most unusual bark that brought levity just after a glorious sunset

Zumba music at midnight rockin’ us into the wee hours

Cracking of glow-sticks to light the way during the night time laps

A warm resounding 4am welcome to Gretchen complete with spotlight halo-a wonderful sight to see

Birds whimsically chirping (believe it or not) at 3am to welcome in the dawn-that didn’t come for an hour

Donkey braying who somehow slept in until 6am reminding us of a biblical connection to get up and finish the sometimes scary work God has set before us with a smile

Car alarm waking anyone who thought they could get a few more minutes of shut eye

Dripping of water off our tent roof, from the HEAVY dew that had blanketed us overnight, into some of our mugs- sold at no extra charge

Tennis Balls bounced on the court adjacent to the track from the Saturday morning regulars setting the pace for a new day

Ice coffee ice cubes rattled in the dunkin cups so needed as we broke down our tent/wares in the thankfully warm sun-we were blessed with beautiful weather the entire event

And finally, applause of/for the few remaining Relay warriors as we learned the results of our efforts.  St. John’s set a goal of raising $5000 and have a current unofficial total $5753 $5894 currently over $6000.


Thank you again for all your support this past year and for doing what St. John’s does best, show up.


Thanks to my dear friend Relay Planner Partner-in-crime Alfreda Barber for selling and connecting with not only folks of the parish but with all those who visit our tent site- we wouldn’t be nearly as successful without you.


Thank you to the Core Four (Barb Feldstein, Erica Feenstra, Diane Dalo and I) for being just about the best humans to hang out with at a Relay for Life Event-I wouldn’t want to spend an overnight, under a tent, wrapped in blankets, in the middle of a highschool field with anyone else.


Thanks to these lovely lap-takers:

Tom and Terri Session, Kevin and Jake Fenner, Elisha and after work for two laps Rachel Feenstra, Lexi Fontaine, Hannah Army, The Stupcenski clan of Sheila, Marsha, Werner and Willy.  Kelli and Steven Peters along with Ella and Addy, Deb Halpryn and first timers Maureen and Max Toth.


And thanks to our two-timers, those who walked Friday and returned to walk again Saturday (early) morning – Kelli returned for a midnight shift, Margaret Mullen at 1am, and prior to 7am Gretchen Shea, Lois Valliere, and Maria Evans.


Thanks to the Saturday crew Carole and Ron Cronsell and Dave Smith who came bearing gifts of dunkin- a New Englanders morning dream in a cup.  And to Linda Boravika, Mazie, Roxie and Kimmie Farrell, Emily, Bentley, and Bethany Chanthavisouk-your clan bound in with the joy and energy needed to help complete a job well done.


And well done it was.

Some of our Relay notables:

Carolyn Fenner fresh off the DL completed 16 miles

Fresh out of school Clarissa with 7.5 miles and Amelia 17 miles.  Barbara Feldstein completed 12 miles, Erica Feenstra 17 miles and the 2019 #1 lap maker Diane Dalo with 20 miles.


We were all winners but St. John’s swept the goods.

Not only did Kevin Fenner and Kimmie Farrell win some raffles at other booths at the event but

DeLynn Mund donated a gorgeous multi-blue colored shawl won by MaryFran Sumple (Melissa’s mom),

Linda Shorts won the Crabtree & Evelyn Basket And

Cheryl Abbotts stunning quilts were won by Carol Fenner, Diane Dalo and Letty Naigles.


Congratulations!! not only to these winners, but to all of us for wielding hope in the darkest of times as examples to the world that we are doing the work of the Lord in our community, for the ones we love, and for the ones we don’t know who are relying on us to just show up and do what needs to be done, in Jesus name.


Thank you St. John’s for continuing to show up.
Melissa Fenner


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