Wednesday before last, I joined a Relay for Life team with The American Cancer Society.Due to a combination of joining late, and past experiences with fundraising….I am ashamed to say I set the bar kinda low and set a goal to raise $150 before the event on Saturday. 10 days, $150. Seemed like something I could certainly pull off.
The following Monday arrived, and lo and behold: I had raised over $200 already! Then, I attend the team meeting, and our team captains informed us of a new challenge: They started us at $0, and were awarding the person who could raise the most before Friday night at 10 pm. Between Monday and Friday of last week, I sent emails, I used ACS fundraising scratchers, and appealed to every person whose child I ever bought wrapping paper from.
Friday night at 10pm, I had raised a grand total of $532. Ten days. $532.
At the event this past weekend, I tried my best to walk the entire 24 hours, as I promised all of my amazing donors that I would. At the conclusion of it, I am proud to say I walked roughly 19-20 hours overall. We took a few brief meal/body icing/sunscreening breaks, and I ended up napping for about 2.5 hours at around 3 am this morning. We figured out that the track was .25 miles around….and that we were completing about 3.5 mph. With that being said, it is safe to assume that I walked a minimum of 66.5 miles over the past 24 hours. That doesn’t, presumably, include the walking to the car up a RIDICULOUS flight of stairs and around a bend to the parking lot. Lol.
Overall, this was a pretty emotional event for me. Although I have lost some family members to cancer, I can’t really say I knew them all too well. I have been blessed to meet survivors along the way, and they have inspired me beyond words. However, one thing about this event really struck a chord with me: the statistics revolving around Cancer, regardless of what type it is, are terrifying. As I become a “grownup,” I am more cognizant of the fact that the people who have raised and shaped me are growing older. I fear that this disease will continue to take my family from me….particularly, my father. My grandfather died of lung cancer in 1998. My father smoked for the better part of his life, just barely quitting in 2002. However, he continues to struggle with Alcoholism.
I have a strange relationship with my father. His disease put our family through more despair and disappointment than I care to remember most of the time. He went from being the man I loved the most, to the man I feared more than anything. His disease caused him to become someone other than the guy who used to rescue me from the neighbor’s treehouse every afternoon, to the man who fell asleep on the couch all day with his sunglasses on. He went from the man who took us to amusement parks, to the man who took us to the bowling alley, because they had a bar there. The man who joined a CD club because we shared a love of music, to a man who only seemed to liked me when we were at karaoke bars together.
When I was in middle school, I’d have to make sure I slept in whatever room our phone was in, because I was used to the police department calling the house to confirm that in fact, the drunk man they were detaining actually had kids to get home to. I left home when I was 15, because I knew that if I woke up to being hit again, I might not make it to see 18. I turned 21, and got a call from the police to pick my intoxicated father up 30 miles away from my home, because he had fallen asleep on a bench at a bus stop.
I will never stop loving this man, nor will I ever stop hoping that he somehow finds it in himself to beat this disease, no matter how functional he may be with it. Some of the statistics I learned with the research I did on the American Cancer Society caused a deeper fear in me. The same bad habits took my grandpa away from my dad. I can’t deal with my dad on a daily basis….in fact, I am almost ashamed to admit that I prefer not to. But my unconditional love for him is unwavering, and I know that God heard the prayers I sent up on the track this morning when I did a few laps alone.
Seeing all of the survivors on that stage did something to me. It happens every time I see or meet someone who has a victory to share. Whether the fight is “over,” in progress, or has just begun…I can see the blessings. I am looking forward to joining a friend again this fall in Balboa Park for a breast cancer event, and I am seriously considering doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event as well.
I am fearful….but I am far more inspired than anything. I will continue to support the efforts made to cure this disease. I don’t want to lose anyone else.
Again, I want to extend an ENORMOUS thanks to every single person who contributed to my fundraising goal, and everyone who couldn’t give money, but gave me support and encouragement. I was not only walking for my loved ones, but for yours as well.
And so, in an effort to get some sleep after all of this craziness, I shall leave you with some photos.
Thank you, thank you, thank you all again, from the very bottom of my heart. and good night!
‘Til Next Time!