More Than A Name
For Joy Thompson it was more than just her name it was her gift to others.
"She really was the personification of her name. She was full of joy all the time. Joy for teaching; joy for learning; joy for her family. She just brought joy to everything that she did," said Julie Crawford, Joy's daughter.
The students and teachers at Auxvasse Elementary are walking with joy even though their hearts are filled with sadness.
"Mrs. Thompson passed away on April 15. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her or all the wonderful times that we had," eighth grader Kalyn Meyer said.
Doctors diagnosed Thompson with pancreatic cancer in July of 2006.
"I told her, look we're going to have a Relay For Life team. You're going to beat this. You're going to be our survivor," Auxvasse Elementary teacher Jennifer Allen said.
By April, she was gone.
"It's just been a month since we lost her, and sometimes it doesn't feel like she's gone," Crawford said.
At the Relay For Life event, cancer survivors walk a special lap. Thompson is not able to walk the lap, so others are walking for her. Some of her students were even dancing.
"She's so excited right now. She's floating around up there going they're doing this for me. It's all about me. They love me; thank you guys," Crawford said of her mother.
The day of the walk would also have been Thompson's birthday.
"I've spent 54 years of birthdays with Joy, and this is the first one without her. But, she's with me. I miss her," Thompson's twin brother, Joe Horton, said.
Thompson's life is an inspiration.
"A lot of the little ones didn't even know Joy, the kindergarteners and the first graders, and they're walking their little hearts out for her. I think that's special," Horton said.
Students hold hands while walking around the track, never letting go of each other or their teacher Mrs. Thompson.
"I don't think she knows how many people care about her. She could make you smile on the gloomiest day of your life because she was so happy," Joy's niece and student, Katie Miller, said.
The kids at Auxvasse Elementary are walking for hope by walking with joy.
"This helps because I feel like we've done something toward the fight of cancer," Allen said.
"They're little kids, and they've really worked hard for this. I'm very proud of them," Crawford said.
Whether they walked for Thompson, or for someone else, the Relay For Life event had one goal.
"Someday, we'll beat cancer," Horton said.
Thompson's friends and family find joy in spite of the pain.
"Right now, I'm doing okay. I'm sure there will be times throughout today where it will just hit me. I'll lose myself again," Crawford said.
As of Tuesday night, the Walking With Joy Relay For Life team has raised more than $5,500. The team plans to walk in the Audrain County Relay For Life on June 22.