The Relay Refresh RoadTrip returned home after 23 amazing visits with 25 amazing Relayers and “literally” rolled into Relay Weekend. From the Opening Ceremony to the Closing Ceremony 24 hours later, we traversed the track, visited campsites and talked to Relayers we met along the way.
It all started shortly after Linden Lab brought the 30 sims online and connected them all together. Over a week or so, we had the opportunity to watch the track come to life. It was so much fun to watch the builds taking shape, the teams getting ready, and the excitement growing day by day. As the big day approached we “literally” fell through the big bridge over ACS island and marveled as Mews Lowell wandered by, offered her expertise and fixed it. We also helped rez Luminarias at the very last minute after a problem was detected and Sasun Steinbeck came to the rescue with a scripted solution.
Before we knew it, Saturday morning arrived and the grid map was covered with green dots. The Opening Ceremony was inspirational and set the tone for the next 24 hours. From the Purple Tears and Dreamin’ In Purple Kids, to Stingray’s interviews, to Sandie Slate sharing her survivor story, to Luciano Lionheart telling us how he came back from his battle with cancer to sing again, and sponsor Bama Breeze speaker Annika sharing with us why she Relays, the Opening Ceremony was one of the best ever.
From there we grabbed our Segways and made our way to the track to stand near Stingray’s designer build and cheer on our Survivors and Caregivers as they walked the first lap. It was here that we met Gavin Dionysys a survivor from the east coast who has been Relaying since he was diagnosed ten years ago. He shared with us “that he was looking around in SL for Cancer support groups, and found his way to ACS Island where he met Poppy Zabelin and quickly joined her Survivor/Caregiver Support group”. He went on to tell us “how much that group helped me get through that first year” and from there he found Relay For Life. When asked if there was one thing he could tell Relayers, he told us “do not give up on what you want... do not let anything get you down… there is always another day…”
Then it was time to hit the track, explore the sims and visit campsites. One of the first campsites we visited was the Goreans in Relay For Life and there we spoke with Kaiila Mahoney the Team Captain. She shared with us that she was “from Georgia not far from Atlanta” and that “Relay is what we do the second weekend in July”. In the few minutes we visited with Kaiila, her passion for Relay was evident in everything she shared with us. In spite of being “legally blind”, her build was amazing and she told us she “tries to stay awake the whole 24 hours… tries to stay here… this is where she can shine… and she feels blessed…” When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she told us, “don’t stop... keep going... for something so serious it is fun... you can not help but laugh and cry at the same time.... you just can not quit…”
From there we hit the track hard on our purple Relay bike at the Team 427 campsite and quickly realized we could not keep pace with the race cars. We spoke to Lexie Taurog, who told us “she loves the atmosphere during Relay Weekend… everyone supporting a great cause… and everyone is so friendly…” When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she told us, “never give up”.
As we moved along, we met Gabriela Darkward from South Carolina. She told us she Relays for her sister who is battling cancer. Her team, Touched By Angels, is made up of people from all walks of life and from all over the world. She very proudly told us “their campsite was to recognize what cancer takes away and what we can do to stop it.” When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she told us, “keep relaying until we find a cure... do not stop…”
It was not long before our four footprints on the track became two and our journey continued to the Harmony of Hope campsite where we had a chance to visit with Dianna Wycliffe from Ohio. We caught her between crashes as we all laughed about logging in and out knowing it was part of the Relay experience. When we asked her why she was here this weekend, she told us “to celebrate lives... to save lives... to help end the fight against cancer...” She told us she has never been able to stay awake the entire 24 hours but was going to “give it her best”. When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she told us, “united we Relay… we Relay together… we Relay for a cure…”
With the encouragement of some super heroes at the Heroes Helping Heroes campsite, we were ready to continue our journey around the track. One of the highlights of their campsite was a display in the Hall Of Justice building with many different colored ribbons signifying various forms of cancer. It was an interactive exhibit and when you clicked on a ribbon you were given information about that cancer.
Not far from there we ran into DJ Morph, DJ Rox and Natalie who all shared with us why they were Relaying together. DJ Morph was from Kansas and told us he enjoyed the opening ceremony and the stories told there. When asked if there was one thing he could tell Relayers, he told us “never quit… you are never alone…” DJ Rox was from New York and has been Relaying two years in memory of her dad and brother. She too loved the opening ceremony and the stories. When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she said “stay strong…” Natalie was from Alabama and was also in her second year. She told us she was “amazed at how much real money is raised for Relay”. When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she said “keep up the good work…”
By the time we got to the River of Life campsite, Selene Jashan from Texas greeted us with some very much needed hydration at her club. Selene shared with us that she Relays for many in her family, including her son, her father, and her brother. She also shared that she was very recently diagnosed with and is now battling cancer herself. Being a part of Relay in both SL and RL, she has seen how many survivors and caregivers there are who Relay. She is so moved by the friendships and camaraderie. Her club, The River, is a huge part of her SL, and she emotionally talked about those who work with her at the club, and how they have supported each other through some tough times. This is her second year as as an active team, and she told us the more involved you are, the more blessed you are. When asked if there was one thing she could tell Relayers, she said “you make friends for life when you Relay…”
We made our way to the Antarctica regions and found an amazing place to cool down at the Inspired Dreamwalkers campsite. As we sat for a bit on a snow plow, we were just amazed at this build. Something that looked so simple from the track, as you walked through an igloo like opening, you were met with an amazing build that so fit the theme of Antarctica as well as United We Relay. As we rested for a bit, we began to reminisce about the day. From the Opening Ceremony, to the Survivor/Caregiver walk, the Teams walk, visiting campsites, and talking to amazing Relayers around the track, the day was beyond anything we had imagined when we set out earlier that morning.
On our way to the Luminaria Ceremony, we quite unexpectedly found ourselves walking down memory lane. We ended up walking on track used from years past, as well as looking at all the Theme Logos from each year Relay has been in Second Life. Along the path were Luminaria bags representing each season as well. So many memories, friends, good times, and hard work flooded our minds. We felt in that display, the never give up attitude of SL Relayers.
The day went by so fast as we visited with so many people along the track and heard so many stories of both those living and those lost. Our day ended at the Luminaria Ceremony sitting in darkness reflecting on all we had seen and experienced during the day. The dedications read aloud… the music… the thousands of lit bags lining the track… the green dots on the grid map signifying avatars walking in silence... the hundreds of bags floating upwards… all combined to refocus us on why we Relay... and why we will keep Relaying… until we find a cure...
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