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I currently serve as the mayor of the City of Milan. I feel transparency and open government are important to a thriving democracy. I invite you to post questions or comments ---if you have any ideas about things you'd like me to discuss, relating to the City of Milan, this blog is a great place to exchange ideas. You must include your name, (first and last) and town to have your comments posted here.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

September just won't be the same

Without the Relay for Life at our Wilson Park

I will never forget my first Relay for Life event. It was 1998 at Wilson Park, right here in Milan. I was on a team, but I was also covering the event for the Milan News-Leader. There were, it seemed to me hundreds of people there, united to fight for one cause—to raise money to support cancer research. And while there were hundreds of people gathered in one place, we all shared a sad common bond: everyone there has been touched by cancer in some way, either through a friend or a family member or some were survivors themselves, while others were currently fighting the battle. This bond made us all friends and supporters of each other.

Over the years the Relay for Life started to feel like a Milan tradition. People looked forward to it, and every August or so the purple and white signs started popping up all over town, along with all sorts of team fundraising events.

This year will be the first year that the Relay won’t be held at our Wilson Park, and I have to say it: it really makes me sad.

I’m disappointed that this year we won’t see our park filled with tents, campers and various shelters held together with clothespins and string.

It saddens me that we won’t see the glow of luminaries lining the walking path this September.

I completely understand all the reasons why they decided to move the event out of town, and why they changed the date to June, but I can’t help it: not having the Relay in Milan will really leave a void here for us in September.

The event brought hundreds of people to Milan, many for the very first time, and they always left with a great impression. Because at the Relay, strangers could see the very best of what makes Milan such a wonderful and unique place to live.

Folks are able to enjoy beautiful Wilson Park in a unique way---it is the only event where people are allowed to camp in the park.

We also got to enjoy our local talent, including the amazing Milan Tae Kwon Do, Dance Explosion, Milan Dance and myriads of others.

For me that first Relay, 1998, (at least I’m fairly certain it was 1998,) was when I made two of my dearest friends, Lori Friese and Helen Polaski. The three of us each lost a parent within a month of each other the previous August. For Lori, the Relay event was a way to remember her dad, and for Helen it was a way to celebrate the life of her mom, who also lost a battle with cancer. Even though my dad passed away from heart disease, it seemed like the shared experience with Lori and Helen made the Relay a poignant experience for me too.

On a more dollars and cents level, I’m saddened by this change as well. I am convinced that the Relay for Life brought folks to our downtown where they could enjoy our bakery, coffee shop, pizza and other shops. And many of our local business people were very active Relay supporters as well, coming up with all sorts of inventive ways to raise money for cancer research.

I’m hoping that this is just a one time thing, and we can convince them to come back to Milan next year.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they made the decision to move to KC Campground, they wanted to hold the event in the summer so more students could be involved, and the weather is warmer, and unfortunately Wilson Park was booked solid for the month of June. I understand why, but I still hope they come back to Wilson Park next year.

September just won’t seem the same without the Relay for Life at Wilson Park.