Even before the speech at Lingrow Farms, I knew something big had to happen. For Ellen, Jaime, our families, and honestly for me. I had been involved in The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for 17 years, as a member of Donna Zukas' Midnight Madness team. In the beginning it was more about getting in a good workout, trading turns on the Apollo Ridge track with my brother Don, usually from 2am to 6am. The dark of night hid the names on the signs and luminaria, until daybreak, and soon the names became familiar. Nancy Johnson, Frank Delvecchio, and yes Jaime Vick. The relay is where I first remember hearing young Jaime's story. It would be the best place for us to make this stand.
My speech at Lingrow was about all the assistance we had received from the community. I reflected back that night to Maggie's passing, and the feeling we got that we were visited by an angel on that darkest of days. (more of that story is at
) I likened the communities efforts on our behalf to a second visit. Angels show up, when you need them most. They are Fluorescent, because they ALWAYS SHOW UP. The idea of the FLUORESCENT ANGELS was born.
Ellen and Jaime had many family members, friends, students, teammates and players that would want to be involved. A relay "team" consists of only 12 members, each taking turns during the 24 hours of the relay...
Now was not a time to trifle over rules.
Our team would show up all at once, in a show of support and force, stay for a few hours and be on our way. It would be a chance to get everyone together, keep the mood positive, and show our girls how much they meant to us.
We sold shirts that first year, black with fluorescent green ink for $20 a piece. I thought maybe we'd need 100-150 prints. We used Facebook as our primary means of pushing our cause and information, and many new "angels" emerged. Our numbers breached 200, and I had to reorder prints, twice. by the night of the relay, we had sold 650+ tee shirts, and raised over $14,000 for the American Cancer Society. The ACS loved us too. We were quite photogenic with 650 of us packing the track in the same shirt! We even took a picture on the hillside, spelling out the word FAITH in 20ft high letters, because we said the usual word there, HOPE, wasn't enough for "Angels".
We gave speeches again, telling our story to the rest of the relay teams. As impactful as that night should have been, it was tempered by the absence of both Jaime and Ellen. Jaime was extremely vulnerable after her initial treatment and Ellen was weakened by treatments and dehydration. They spent the evening at home, receiving text and Facebook pictures from the event. We had pulled off a great night for them, but I still felt like something more needed to be done. Jaime was in for a long battle, and she had done so much for us.
As we walked across the gym floor after taking down the nets, Jodie and I started talking. If we could get 650 people out to a track in Apollo on a hot night, how many could we get to come to the gym for our first game of the season? Between Jodie, Dan and I the words seemed to flow into a great idea...
Jam the Gym for Jaime!