Wednesday, I helped out counting money that had been raised for the Falls Church Relay for Life, to be held on Saturday, June 4at George Mason High School. For the last 12 years I have been involved with Relay for Life, a
fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. As most of you reading this know, as a toddler, I was a bone marrow donor for my older sister, Nora, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia at 6 months old. Nora survived, and grew into a successful adult and a great sister. She volunteers each summer with Camp Fantastic (for kids with cancer), my mom volunteers each week with the Ronald McDonald House (she and Nora lived in one while she was having her bone marrow transplant), and I raise money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life.
What is Relay?
It is NOT a race … or even a sporting event. No one wears running shorts or heart rate monitors.
It is an all night celebration of life and remembrance for those we have lost in the struggle against cancer. Because of this, it is a great event to attend or to volunteer at, even if you are not a participating team member.
Here are some of the highlights if you want to just come for the day of:
The Survivor Reception & First Lap: If you are a cancer survivor (or currently battling cancer), this is your opportunity to gather with others in a special reception before the event. After the reception, all of the survivors walk out to the event grounds together (wearing complimentary survivor t-shirts) and lead the Relay teams in the first lap around the track to kick off the event. It’s a really heart warming and triumphant moment.
The Caregiver Lap: Have you ever been a caregiver for someone with cancer? The caregivers are invited to join the survivors for the 2nd lap around the track to kick off the event.
Day time events and on site fundraisers: During the event, each team sets up a booth or team area on the inside of the track (usually a high school or college track and field). Many teams will be selling food or handmade items to benefit ACS. There are also games and activities that you can participate (some of which have a fee that also goes towards ACS). In the past I have participated in cake walks and Twister and have bought delicious cookies and handmade greeting cards. It’s like a combination County Fair and bazaar.
Luminaria Sales and Ceremony:
If you are ready to be moved to tears, then come back at around 9 pm for the lighting of the luminarias in honor or in memory of cancer survivors. You can purchase a luminaria in someone’s name and decorate it. Every year I get one in honor of my sister and then I can light the luminaria during the ceremony and remember how thankful I am to have her. Most Relays also collect pictures ahead of time and then show a slideshow during the ceremony.
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