THE SEVENTH RELAY
On May 20, 2006, the LS Kids helped the American Cancer Society with the Relay For Life, as they do every year. Lou started out with ten Kids: Meghan Rockey, Tiffany Allen, Staci Wyland, Debbie Benfield, Cris Miller, Mike Schedin, Shelby Sander, Krystle Welch, Carleah Stabley, and Markel Wheeland. During the day, Kids came in and out of the project.
The rain continued in waves during the day, making the Relay cold and damp. Tif wrapped Lou's emergency blanket around herself, under her jacket, to stay warm. "People thought I was covered in aluminum foil," she said.
This marked the seventh Relay the Kids had helped out with. Some of them had been coming for years, and others were new to the project. "Today was my first time at the Relay," said Markel Wheeland, new member. "And it was awesome. I can't wait until next year."
"I got to talk to my friend," added Shelby,"And meet a new girl."
Lou, Tiffany Allen, Markel Wheeland, and Robin Prescott had helped in the previous weeks by distributiong luminary flyers that allowed people to purchase a candle in honor or memory of a loved one with cancer. The candles are the major reason the LS Kids are there every year.
"We started out doing odd jobs here and there, years ago," commented Lou. "Over the years, we got more involved with the candles, until that was our biggest project. Now, that's pretty much entirely under our control."
During the day, Tif and Meghan handled most of the selling of the candles, and Mike and Cris did the lettering on the bags, while Staci and Debbie supervised Krystle, Markel, and some other volunteers assembling the bags. Lou scheduled and ran the operation, and Shelby ran errands for the team.
They made bags with the cancer victims and survivors' names on them, and fitted them with candles inside. Mike Schedin, 19, of the group, devised a new idea that would help prevent the bags from blowing over in the wind. He did this by positioning the block of wood that holds the candle inside a certain way.
Loved ones were also observed and remembered during the day, people who had been close to the LS Kids. This included Lou's mother, Mike's grandmother, Tif's grandmother, and Staci Wyland herself.
In all, it was a positive experience throughout the day. "My favorite part of the day was after the candles were lit," said Tif. "They're always so pretty to look at."
"All in all," summed up Mike, after dark,"It was a day to remember."
-Cris Miller, Staff
-Mike Schedin, Staff
-Shelby Sander, Staff
-Markel Wheeland, Staff
-Tiffany Allen, Assistant
On May 7, 2006, a second birthday party was held for Kadeja "Gracie" Henry, daughter of former LS Assistant Staci Wyland. The party was held at Flemington Park.
In addition to various friends and relatives, the party was also attended by Lou, former President Debbie Benfield, Cris Miller, Mike Schedin, former President Vesta Jones, and Shelby Sander.
Kadeja was born on May 7, 2004, while the LS Kids were working on restoring a cemetery. As the Kids were in Highland Cemetery working, Staci Wyland and Debbie Benfield were at the hospital with the baby. The Kids went in afterward to visit.
MEGHAN ON CLINTON COUNTY
On May 11, 2006, Meghan Rockey got in contact with Lou, first by phone, and then by e-mail. She needed some help with a history class for her school.
"I have some questions for my PA history class about this county," Meghan explained,"And I figured you would be the best
person to ask."
Lou, a museum curator specializing in local history, helped Meghan with her questions. He sent information on when and how the county was founded, who it was named after, and several interesting facts about Clinton County.
CHELSEY AT THE PROM
INDIANA- I went to the Prom on May 6, 2006. Then I went to the Grand March, which was REALLY extravagent!
The Prom was just crazy. They must have spent a fortune on some of the stuff. At the After-Prom, they were doing drawings for TVs, a video camera, digital camera, and a microwave oven.
It was a lot of fun, though. My date was really cool. He cleans up well, too.
My language is getting worse, I am afraid. Today I am moody, which is common around this joint...I think it's all of the soda I'm drinking.
But anyhoo, I thought I'd type to you to tell you what's been going on since I have left basic. I am Phase 5, which means I get to wear civilan clothes and go out to Serria Vista without having a pass and get to go places without getting permission first. Yay.
Started classes, and let me tell you, they are a SNORE, but at least I am actually half decent at public speaking, plotting points, reading degrees and using my common sense to properly place a suspect. Cool beans, no?
RHYME AND REASON
Whispers brush against the skin of my ears,
Ones who reach for words from you,
Where the words trace to my imagination,
Which reach to the rising hope.
Where hope raises to build a foundation,
Where faith once was failing,
But a building faith rises hope in my heart,
Just because whispers reached my mine,
Which built with my imagination,
Which gave strength to this foundation
And set a broken heart to healing.
The JJJ Is:
Assistant Leader: Tiffany Allen
President: Meghan Rockey
Vice-President: Biz Albright
Secretary: Cris Miller
Staff: Shelby Sander, Carleah Stabley, Jess Cummings, Mike Schedin, Markel Wheeland, Debbie Benfield, Krystle Welch, Robin Prescott, Ida Yost
Distant Correspondents: MacKenzie Brundage, Regina Spence, Amber Snow, Chelsey Crouchley, Goth Lizz
Foreign Bureau: Janice Marco
Seven years ago, when we started, it was just another project.
Then it became our biggest one of the year.
And the three years ago, when my mother died of cancer, it became the event that brings us closer together, annually.
I started the day about the way I always do---By pacing frantically around the kitchen, drinking coffee. I start just about every project that way. Tif showed up, Carleah showed up. The other Kids called in to tell me they'd meet us there.
We went up, in the rain, and worked on the candles for hours. Splitting up, I had Kids selling candles, Kids assembling candles, and a couple of them running the paperwork back and forth. It rained, coming at us in waves all day. And the Kids and I got wet and cold---But we stayed.
We always stay. No matter how bad the weather gets, no matter how it hurts. I stay to do my part, and the Kids, to their credit, stand with me. A few of the Kids were new this year. The others have all been through it with me before.
There's always a moment when I think of all the pain this entails. I lost my mother three years ago to cancer. And I know, I understand, how much cancer can hurt.
This year, it was as we lit the candles. Mike and Crissy were directing the lighting of the candles. I was racing around, bringing new candles out onto the field, wrenching my knee as I ran. Markel was with me as we replaced fallen candles and got the others lit. Tif and the others were back at the main booth, selling the last-minute candles. And then the survivors did their walk around the field.
Seniors, adults, children. All of them, touched by cancer. Affected deeply by death or the possibility of it. There's always a moment when I realize that....And this year, it was right then, as the hundreds of people who have been hurt by cancer walked around the field.
Each person in that parade, each candle along the field, stands for a life. Each one of them represents that pain and fear that cancer brings to a victim, and the people who care about that victim.
As I stood and watched, a single tear rolled down my face.
Markel, standing next to me, reached up and brushed it away.
And we lit the rest of the candles.
And then, the main part of our job was done. And it was time to slow down, to patch up my knee. And to enjoy the rest of the night.
Some of the Kids went home. Tif went for a ride around the track in her wheelchair. Markel went and hung out with some friends who were there. Shelby ran out into the field to play ball with some of her friends. Cris and Mike spent some time talking, drawing a bit with the markers we'd used for the candle bags.
I spent a little time with all of them. And a little time alone, too, with my mother's candle.
There was a time, after my mother died, when I'd thought I'd never enjoy these times again. I thought I'd never have as good a time, never appreciate my Kids again.
I was wrong about that.
No matter how bad the rain, it always clears up eventually. And no matter how badly it hurts, life does go on. And it gets better. And people do learn to laugh and love again.
There's always a moment when I realize that, too.
-I miss you, Mom