Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dream Big, Relay Bigger

Today is the ten year anniversary of my grandmother's death.  On January 27th, 2003 my grandmother lost her third battle with breast cancer.  My grandmother was an amazing person, and as the oldest grandchild I was lucky enough to get 18 years with her.  Not that 18 years was in any way long enough, but it's better than what my siblings and cousins got.  I first learned about what cancer was when my grandfather (her husband) was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I think I was 5 or 6.  Unfortunately, his first battle was also his last.  I was 7 when he died, and I still remember the time when he was sick pretty vividly.  When I was a little older and learned that my grandmother had already had cancer twice before my grandfather did I was just amazed that she was able to beat something like that.  She was definitely my hero for being strong enough to beat something so awful more than once.  She never stopped fighting until the very end.  She was a strong person that very much molded the person I've become. 

My freshman year at NAU opened a door for me that would eventually become one of my life's passions.  One day in the spring, my resident advisor approached my friends and I about creating a team for a charity event.  That event was Relay for Life.  All I knew going in was that it was an all-night event in the Skydome, and the money raised would go to the American Cancer Society.  This came one year after my grandmother's death, and it sounded like a great idea to me.  Needless to say, that event changed my life.  It's such a moving experience, and I immediately wanted to be more involved.

Roommate and I - Relay Year 1

My sophomore year I wanted to get more involved, and that year I had also taken a position as secretary for my honor's society.  I decided to be a Relay Team Captain that year.  It would get me more involved and help me to learn more about the American Cancer Society and Relay itself.  During the year I became friends with the Relay for Life Event Chair.  She's another amazing person that I'm still friends with today, and I owe her a lot for putting her faith in me like she did.

Some of my friends & I - Relay Year 2

At the end of my sophomore year, the aforementioned Event Chair was graduating from NAU, and needed someone to take her place.  She called me up one day and said she couldn't trust her event to just anyone, and so she'd picked me and two other people to take it over from her.  I really wasn't given a choice, and in less than an hour I skipped a few steps and went from Team Captain to Event Chair.  I was unsure as to whether or not I could handle the responsibility, but I had grown to love Relay so much, that I had to trust the prior chair's instinct that it was a good fit and just go with it.  I was then the Event Co-Chair for 2 years until I graduated from NAU.  I was blessed to make some amazing friends and have amazing committees that were as passionate about Relay as I was.  My senior year I convinced my advisor that being an American Cancer Society intern was totally related to my future career goals, and spent 6 months having fun at ACS events, running Relay for Life, and getting the chance to feel like I was making a difference in people's lives.

My Event Co-Chairs & I - AKA The Teal Shirt Squad - Relay Year 3

Me with my Co-Chairs and about half of our Committee - Relay Year 4

After college, when I moved to DC it was hard to stay involved with ACS, but it was always in the back of my mind as something I wanted to go back to someday.  This year, I've been given that opportunity.  I'm part of the inaugural committee for the Relay for Life of Downtown Phoenix.  I'm our Team Development Chair and an unofficial Co-Chair.  It's been challenging for me.  I was so used to the lovely NAU event that was handed to me in college.  The NAU event was well established at both our school and in the community by the time I took over.  This event is brand new and comes with a whole set of challenges I'm not used to.  I love it though, and I'm excited to see it come to life.

The title of my blog today is the motto for Relay this year.  The thought is that if you set goals, and you dream about them big enough, you can often accomplish more than you set out to.  For this year my dream is just to get the word out there and hope someone shows up to our event.  My dream is also to reach out to as many people as I can and get them to Relay.  Whether it be at my event in Phoenix, or another event somewhere in the country, I want people to experience Relay.  We all know someone who has had cancer, or who has cared for someone with cancer.  Cancer touches everyone in some way, shape or form.  I urge everyone to take some time to see what Relay is all about.  If you're in the Phoenix area and would like to get involved, please let me know, or click here to go to our website.  If you aren't in the Phoenix area, you can visit the ACS website to find the Relay event closest to you.  Click here to learn more about Relay.

If you made it to the end of this one, thanks for listening.  I'll leave you with this: "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. " - Dale Carnegie


Gerri said...

Perfect! So proud of you...always. Love you forever! :)

MsK said...

Oh lord I look about 12 in that picture and I have a 35mm camera in my hand... those were the days!