Throughout the night we celebrated, honored and remembered all of those that have been touched by cancer. We sold food, drinks, shirts, auctioned off baskets full of goodies, raffled a trailer and played carnival type games in an effort to raise just a few more dollars. The Luminaria Ceremony was held with the highest level of respect, followed by fireworks that filled the night sky. As the crowd began to dwindle with many calling an end to a long day, those that stayed knew it had really only just begun.
In the past, I had participated in the Relay for Life as a member of a team. Problem was is that I really wasn't a very good teammate. I mostly did my own thing throughout the year, raising money at different races and then just showing up on Relay night with my running shoes and a water jug. I never fully understood how amazing the whole event could be. Or just how much work and effort go into bringing things together in a manner that makes the night enjoyable and fun for everybody. I had been pretty selfish in this regard without even realizing it. This year my approach was a little different.
|IRC Relay Team raised $8,800 this year|
We decided to set up our campsite in a birthday theme. Worked for me since the Relay and my 41st birthday were on the same day. I asked for donations of $41 to run in the pink tutu and, no surprise to me, there were a few takers. Guess people like seeing a dude in a dress. Or, more likely, they are the very generous type and hate cancer as much as the rest of us. Either way.... the stupid tutu was worn but that's boring so we'll skip that part. My son also set up a campsite along with us. His theme was Superman and it was awesome. Awesome because he asked to be involved and be allowed to do his own thing. He even wrote a letter detailing exactly why he wanted to Relay. He's 10 and much more mature than his dad.
|Never to early to get involved.....|
A friend, Jamie, had been planning to come to the Relay as a member of the team for several months just to support the event. Recently her Dad was diagnosed with cancer and the Relay took on a different role in her life. I watched as she pushed her physical limits over the course of the night with a passion and dedication that couldn't be stopped. It became a personal journey as she circled the track 120 times for a total of 30 miles. One mile for each treatment her Dad is in the midst of receiving and eclipsing her personal distance record. When it became difficult and her legs started to get sore she never complained or talked about quitting. She just pushed forward knowing that it was nothing in comparison. It really does amaze me what people can do when they find the right motivation. It also helps to surround yourself with a bunch of people that understand and have the same desire to fight back. Every person there recognized, supported and felt exactly the same way as Jamie. It's hard not to succeed with that kind of energy in the air.
Obviously she wasn't the only one that did amazing things that night. Her story just seemed familiar to me. Several teammates logged big miles and honored those they love or have lost. I can honestly say that every single person who walked, ran, participated in activities or worked during the night are heroes in my eyes. Hope is the common bond that brought us all together. With hope there is the courage to fight back. There are many soldiers in the fight that are filled with hope and I appreciate and am grateful to be with them in this battle.
My goal was to run 41 miles. I ran 35. In the years past the mileage has averaged 55. What happened? Well..... It's much easier to just show up an run than it is to actually participate in a Relay for Life. I played games, hung out at the campsite, ate a ton of food, laughed, smiled and took in the entire atmosphere of the event this time. Not only did I have more fun than ever before, I gained a new perspective and appreciation for the hard work and effort that everybody puts in. I had been running with blinders on since 2010 and didn't really get that EVERYBODY involved works really hard to end cancer. In some weird, egotistical dreamland I had somehow pushed aside the importance of their contributions and managed to minimize it in the past. I knew they cared. I knew they were dedicated. I knew they were passionate. But this year I opened my eyes and watched with clarity as friends, families and complete strangers worked with a level of selflessness and determination that was many times greater than my own.
|Just for fun....|