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Monday, July 9, 2007

In Celebration of Book Babes

In our last full-fledged blog posting we featured the Cart Wheels, our new library book cart drill team. Today's blog celebrates the amazing work done by our Relay for Life team, the Book Babes. The Des Plaines Relay for Life event took place on Friday, June 29, 2007 on the grounds of Maine West High School and the Book Babes gave their very best .

This was the first time I had ever attended a Relay for Life and I was so impressed by the positive spirit and energy of everyone participating. If you're not familiar with Relay, this is a community event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise money for cancer research and treatment. It's also a dance party, a walk/run, a fashion show, an art exhibit and most of all, a celebration of life for those who have survived cancer and a time to honor lives lost to the disease. "Celebrate! Remember! Fight Back!" - this is the rallying cry of Relay for Life. There's a Relay for Life in Des Plaines but you'll find them all across Illinois and around the country.

Being a newbie to Relay, I parked my car at Maine West and walked somewhat hesitantly toward the busy scene. What I found was an enormous and buzzing tent city, a bazaar of raffle prizes and crafts and snacks, a walking track being continuously paced by the Relay teams, music and dancing in the air. Like all great moments of community, the Relay brought together a diverse mixture of people united by a common passion. I can't recall the last time before Relay for Life when I saw so many people gathered in one place who were happy, calm, and radiating goodness. I found myself playing catch with one of my new coworkers (John Lavalie) and a little boy whose mother was also participating in Relay. I haven't played catch in about 30 years! :) I bought raffle tickets and then gave the rest of my cash to "Miss Jimmy," a high school boy who good-naturedly dressed up as "Queen of the Relay," along with many other gents, to raise more money. An infectious generosity lingered in the air, assisted no doubt by some gorgeous early Summer weather and a glowing sunset.

The Library is especially proud of Youth Services Librarian Pat Horn and her husband Jerry Horn, both cancer survivors, who served as honorary co-chairs of this year's Relay as well as Book Babes.

The Book Babes are led by Youth Services Head Veronica Schwartz (also a Cart Wheel, and a recent recipient of a Super Star Volunteer award from the city of Des Plaines, along with staff member Cheryl Gladfelter and our Teen Advisory Board. Veronica wows all of us with her unflagging energy.). Veronica and her team have been raising money all year 'round, hosting bake sales, plant sales, Denim Days and other events within the library. Then the Book Babes set up their campsite at Relay and sold raffle tickets, note cards, bookmarks and cups of snack mix to raise even more funds.

As of today, the Book Babes have reached a new personal best, raising more than $9,000 in the fight against cancer this year. If you want to meet our Book Babes as well as catch a glimpse of some of us who came up to support them, watch the photo video in the post just down below. For the record, the Des Plaines Public Library's Relay for Life Book Babes are:

Veronica Schwartz
Pat Horn
Gail Bradley
Bonnie Gaynor
Francine Gralak
Linda Knorr
Kathy Kyrouac
Joseph Miller
David Whittingham

Were you involved in this year's Relay for Life? How did your team do? What was the best part of the event? Please leave your comments here. While we want the PlainTalk blog to inform you about the library, we also need to hear from you to keep the conversation going. Relay for Life is just one outstanding example of all the good work being done by the community of Des Plaines, something for which we can all be very proud.

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