Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Plea For Help

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always working on some project, some event, some charity cause.  Volunteer work is in my blood, and even my jobs have always been in the helping field.  Someone at an old job once lectured me about all my efforts, telling me that I couldn’t save the world.  I told her that wouldn’t stop me from trying!

The truth is, though, she was right.  Alone, I can’t save the world.  None of us can.  But when we work together for a common goal, there’s no limit to what we can do.  So this is my plea to all of you – to join me in my efforts, to help support the cause.

RIP Dad ... we will always miss you
Eighteen years ago, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  She was lucky – it was in her thyroid, so they did surgery and radiation, and with medication, she’s doing great.  My father-in-law was not so lucky: lung cancer a year and a half ago (though he'd quit smoking decades earlier).  My cousin lost her 20-year battle with multiple myeloma, leaving behind a teenage son and husband who spent his life caring for her – even through his own cancer diagnosis and treatment.  And the list goes on: friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors who have gotten the dreaded diagnosis.  Some succumbed to the disease, but will live forever in our hearts.  Some have overcome, and stand strong to show the world that there is hope.

There is hope.  We can make a difference.   

If you watch tv, listen to the radio, or go anywhere in your neighborhood, you’ll hear about countless walkathons for countless charities.  They’re all good.  If you can’t walk, you can make a donation to sponsor a walker.  If you can’t afford to make a donation, you can volunteer to help out for the day.  Anything you can do to contribute to a cause that is close to your heart is a huge step in the right direction.  But there is one event that is more than just a walk: it’s an experience.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event, and it is unlike any other that I've ever known.  There are Relays in thousands of communities across the country, and it's easy to see why they're still growing.  Each year at Relay, I am inspired, as are hundreds of others with me.  We laugh, we cry, we walk, we dance, we hug, we eat, we party.  At Relay For Life, we celebrate, we remember, and we fight back.

My mom, front & center among the survivors

We start the Relay by celebrating our cancer survivors.  They are a symbol of hope for others newly diagnosed, and we make sure they know how special they are, and how grateful we are to have them around.  The first lap is all theirs, and the rest of us cheer them on, celebrating the victory of their lives.

Luminaria for my cousins

The track is lined with luminaria candles, each in a bag decorated to honor a cancer survivor or remember someone we've lost: every candle has a name.  At nightfall we light the candles during a touching ceremony, and their light keeps us going through the night and into the morning.  We may get tired and weak as the hours pass, but we look to them to remember why we're here ... and why we'll never give up.

Fight Back.

Throughout Relay season, we are taking steps to fight back against this dreaded disease.  We raise funds for research, advocacy, education, and patient services.  We pledge to continue the fight even after we go home, with healthy living, regular screenings, and a return to Relay next year!

So ... what can you do?

Of course, I would love it if you'd support my efforts.  If you're in the area, join my team and Relay with me!  If you're not (or just can't make it that day), you can make a donation through my fundraising page.  You can light a luminaria for a $10 donation, or you can contribute any amount - nothing is too small to make a difference (or too large!).  If you're really moved and want to get involved but aren't close enough to join me, you can find a Relay near you at

** If you like what you read, tell a friend!  Actually, tell me too - post a comment below!!  If you don't ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!