"I think it went better than expected," said Chairman Tracy Schallert. "The committee and several others from the community worked their tail ends off to make the transition."
Fundraising was impacted minimally. The final count of Saturday morning was $91,545.01, up considerably from $78,000 on Bank Night earlier in the week when a few teams failed to make their deposits. Though the total did not top the record tally of more than $120,000 last year, Schallert was impressed.
"This year's total came close to topping amounts from past years, even in a bad economy. I'm very happy with it," Schallert said.
The gym floor had been covered with plastic to protect it from wear and tear. The outside track was marked as the main walking area for the event. Initially, participants gathered in the grandstands to watch the Relay leaders speak from the floor and from the central microphone box in the front row. Cancer survivors, clad in purple shirts, assembled in the center of the gym waiting for the opening prayer by Father Dan Robles and remarks that kicked off the event.
After the necessary introductions, a color guard from the Junior ROTC program at the Southwest Area Career Center led the survivors around the gym on the opening laps to applause from the crowd. On the second lap, caregivers joined the survivors, an innovation this year, then the teams took the field to get the main activity of the night underway.
The choice of the E.E. Camp Gymnasium as an indoor site was Schallert's idea. "It was a good place to do it," she said.
"The middle school gym is self-contained," Schallert explained. "I didn't have to worry about people getting into the high school. It worked out well."
Schallert commended Jay Apostol, the middle school principal and longtime Relay committee member, for securing the site. The rear lower gym became the location for the campsites.
Making the most meaningful activities of the Relay possible required more resourcefulness. Schallert credited Laura Apostol for the idea of setting up the luminaries around the inside of the walking track with Christmas lights inside the bags bearing names of those to be remembered. The effect in the dark was very similar to having candles glowing.
Passing fire from candle to candle for the torch of hope ceremony was not an option. Instead, at the conclusion of the memorial ceremony, participants left the grandstands in the gym to walk around the track in silence, viewing the names written on the luminaries.
Beyond these adjustments, the Relay was able to continue largely in its original format. Space was measured out in the lower gym for campsites. Schallert said an effort was made to make the spaces even.
Three teams did not attend at all and several that would have set up campsites did not. The First United Methodist Church team had created a big mosaic banner resembling a stained glass window but had no place to insert it into the ground so they left it at the church.
A few teams took cookers outside to prepare their food. She noted the Reavisville Baptist Church team sold out of its fundraising supplies.
Schallert was pleased by the number of survivors who turned out, which seemed close to the number of a day of good weather.
"After midnight and into the early morning, it seemed like there were more people who stayed than usual," Schallert said, "and more participating in the games."
Winners of the various contests were announced during closing ceremonies. Beth Luebbering was the top individual fundraiser. IM 4 A Cure was the top fundraising "friends and family" team. The adult team from Reavisville Baptist Church took honors as the top church fundraiser. The Monett Elementary School team was the best small organization at fundraising.
The best large organization fundraiser was the Tyson Foods Crowin' for a Cure team. The Tyson team achieved the diamond level for raising over $20,000, the first team in a number of years to hit such a high mark, Schallert said.
Lap walking honors also went to Crowin' For A Cure. The team had the most total laps and member Andy Hubbert had the most individual laps.
Best campsite honors went to Monett Elementary. In the cook-off contest, Crowin' For A Cure won the best main dish and dessert, while IM 4 A Cure team won the appetizer.
The Relay committee gave its Gordy Klatt Award for service rendered to Michelle Crim. It was announced that Jennifer Cendroski and Betty Messer will be the co-chairmen for next year's Relay.
One innovation that proved particular effective was the portable screen Schallert found for projecting slides for the memorial ceremony, designed for outdoor use. She expected the Monett Relay would end up paying for the screen to keep it for future years.