We sat there, at the end of the 2004 Relay, making notes of what to do and what not to do for the next year," said Mary Root, co-chair along with Duane Downs.
Shortly after Relay, they had a final team captain meeting and then went on hiatus until October when their monthly meetings started.
"We know we”re going to the fairgrounds, and that the format”s the same, so there”s not a lot of hard work. It doesn”t change a great deal from year to year. Our planning is really organizing the 60 people that make up the steering committee. Everyone”s fairly experienced," said Downs.
As the date for Relay nears, the well-oiled machine kicks into high gear. Two weeks beforehand, it”s all about organizing – making sure everything”s coming in, from the goodie bag stuff to the moveable storage pods.
"The Monday morning before, we”ll start bringing everything in from storage and lining it up. The t-shirts are usually delivered that afternoon, and we”ll have 40-50 volunteers each day rolling and sizing the shirts before they get put in the goodie bags. By Wednesday, all the campsites are marked off; by Thursday they”re measured and numbered," said Root. "The computers are brought in, porta-potties, sand for luminaries, street signs go up – it”s like setting up a small city."
On Friday, the first tent goes up. And then the fun starts. Some committees are done with their tasks, but other committees, like the accounting committee, are just getting started. And the co-chairs?
"We go around putting out fires – we”re constantly prepared for anything. We”ll ride around the track in our golf carts, answering questions, encouraging, thanking people, giving rides – it really is a fun time," said Root.
It was 5:20 a.m. The office didn”t open until 9 a.m., yet Relay”s co-chair Duane Downs had already been there for 20 minutes. More people began arriving until some 130 team captains were waiting in line for campsite selection. Downs was there to get a site for his team, the Mixed Nuts Bowlers.
Dianne Farhing”s teams were also somewhere in line, waiting for the perfect spot. But her planning began way before that January day.
"I”m involved with both my church and school”s Relay teams. At Sugar Hill Elementary, we do lots of things year round to raise money for Relay – from snack wagons to selling poinsettias," said Fahring.
Both her school and church teams have fundraising goals.
"Our school”s goal is $250 per team member, and we”re halfway there already. Last year, our church, North Metro First Baptist, raised about $17,000, more than doubling our goal," said Fahring.
For Fahring, a former Relay co-chair, Relay”s fight against cancer is a cause that”s near and dear to her heart. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago.
"Right now he”s going through a clinical trial that probably wouldn”t be possible if it wasn”t for the money Relay raises