Monday, April 23, 2012

Relay for Life

Marilyn Wattman-Feldman suggested I go to the Sanford Zoo to sketch the Relay for Life. My wife Terry arrived before me and I looked for her in the crowd. Tents were set up in the area in front of the zoo entrance where the zip lines are set up. There was a makeshift stage set up and I noticed a llama wearing a diamond studded tiara. A radio personality asked all the cancer survivors to come forward and stand in front of the stage. A large group of survivors, all dressed in purple T-shirts stood in front of the stage. There were young and old alike, people from all walks of life.

The Relay was an all night fundraising walk. The first lap was for the survivors lead by Clarissa the llama. The announcer didn’t realize Clarissa was a llama. “It wasn’t in my script!,” he shouted and he laughed. I saw Marilyn among the survivors as she did the first lap. Children were selling wristbands with passion. Terry and I got some bratwurst for dinner and we watched the girls make up new chants as they tried to sell the wristbands.

For $5 you could go on an evening tour of the zoo with a zoo guide. Marilyn said that the animals were more active at night. Guests were given flashlights with red gels which wouldn’t disturb the animals as much. We saw kangaroos, gators, a porcupine and some monkeys but most animals were either very well hidden or they were backstage asleep. After the tour, Terry left and I started searching for a sketch. I settled on this young zoo employee selling stuffed snakes and letting people know about the zoo tour. The snakes were cheap, like $3, and she sold quite a few. As I started putting in color, the lights all went out. I thought there had been a power failure, but someone finally explained that there was going to be an hour of silent remembrance for friends and family who had died to cancer. Paper bags with candles inside were placed all around the relay track. Some bags had photos of loved ones and many had loving tributes. Even the girls selling bracelets quieted down. It was a solemn, quiet time. The lights all flickered on, and the carnival-like atmosphere resumed. I splashed colors on my dark sketch, losing the gorilla and rhino in the dark of the night.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

1 comment:

aka Penelope said...

I have known people close to me who have not survived cancer and am always encouraged for the future when I hear of those who do. It is nice that you were able to document this event in such a unique way. And I am thrilled to hear that an hour (rather than the standard minute) was allotted for reflection of loved ones lost.