Nearly 400 walkers took turns taking laps to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer.
Wind, rain and even lightning couldn't stop the Lawrence Relay for Life Friday night.
Storm clouds rolled in soon after the first team lap of the all-night event at Haskell Stadium at Haskell Indian Nations University. But walkers from each relay team kept circling. The wind picked up, and still they walked. A handful of hearty souls kept going when the rain started, but when the lightning got closer, master of ceremonies Howard Hill called on all to take shelter under the stadium seats.
"Let's let this stuff pass, and then we'll get on with the evening," he told the crowd.
Most of the 28 teams crowded inside, though a few stayed in their tents, playing cards.
"We're just going to move our party inside," Marla Herron, chair of the sponsoring organization, the Douglas County chapter of the American Cancer Society, said. She had kept walking through the wind and the rain but finally bowed to the danger of lightning.
The relay, she said, would resume as soon as the lightning passed.
"We'll be here all night," even if it rained, she said. "We'll just survive it. That's what people with cancer have to do."
After a half hour of downpour, organizers decided it was time to start up again -- under the stadium.
Walkers filed back and forth along one wall while team members cheered from the other. It was a bit crowded -- more than 100 cancer survivors came to walk the first lap, and relay chair Carol Wallace said nearly 400 participated on the 28 teams, which were to field one walker at a time throughout the night.
The walk was scheduled to continue through the 9:30 a.m. closing ceremonies this morning.
After the damp night, a pancake feed for the participants and the public was scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. this morning. The breakfast is $4 for those not on a team.
Wallace said she hoped the event would raise at least $25,000; Relay for Life is one of the American Cancer Society's biggest fund-raisers. There are more than 2,300 similar relays held across the country, including one last week in Eudora and one last month in Baldwin.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.