Tag Archives: fundraiser

Relay for Life: A Community Event for the Whole Family

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


Nora at a Camp Fantastic Fundraiser

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.

relay for life 2009

Relay is a fun event for kids of all ages

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.

relay for life cancer survivors

Cancer survivors kicking off Relay for Life in Falls Church 2009

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.

mr. relay

One of my earliest and favorite Relay memories -- my friend wearing my dress for the Mr. Relay competition 12 years ago

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:

luminariaIf 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.

Last week!!  Please remember to VOTE for us everyday in the Travel for Good contest.

These 2 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Greg Castano, Coordinator of Volunteer Arlington.  Thank you for the support!

Bun Warmers In Phoenix?!

Sharon at the ticket booth

Sharon operating the card machine at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival

I’ve always given Jay’s mom Cindi a hard time about the fact that she uses her car’s bun warmers on the “cold” days in Phoenix.  You know, when it dips down to a frosty 50 degrees.   Well, Saturday evening I was immensely grateful that A) I had borrowed Cindi’s car & B) her car has bun warmers.  After 4 hours of sitting in the Ticket Booth at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, I was chilled to the bone.  The event was sullied by a dreary 40 degree drizzle.  Not only was it nasty weather, but the crowd and staff were unprepared, with mini skirts, sandals, and jean jackets.  One girl explained that she had told her friend to wear “winter” clothes and then pointed to her friend who I noticed was dressed in wedge heals, leggings, a mini skirt, short sleeve top, with a faux fur vest.  In this situation my most useful skill as a volunteer was dressing for the weather.  I was chilled, but managing in LL Bean pants, a polypropelene long sleeve shirt, windstopper fleece vest, and Mountain Hardwear rain jacket.  I was ready to hold out until 9:15 pm when the booth closed.  We were able to let the other 2 volunteers go home early before it got dark.  I was grateful that the event organizers shut down the event one hour early.

Scottsdale Culinary Festival

Scottsdale Culinary Festival

Big fundraising events are a huge gamble.  Last year, this event raised about $330,000 for arts organizations in the Phoenix metro area.  For some of the very small arts groups, this event may be their sole source of funding.  With Phoenix and the State of Arizona in financial disaster, there is little to no government support for the Arts.  The rain, a cold and miserable afternoon for us, is likely to mean a miserable year for the arts community in Phoenix.  Hopefully, Sunday’s sales will be big and help to close the gap.

gap card sign
One neat thing about volunteering at events all over the country for all different types of nonprofits, is that you get to see different ways of doing things.  For the Culinary Festival, I was assigned to “tickets”, but this year they had replaced tickets with an Event Card.  The card looked and acted like a debit card.  Patrons could load the card with up to $100.  The card was accepted at all of the booths and entrances throughout the festival.  The patrons were very happy to find out that they could also get a refund for whatever was left on the card when they decided to leave.  When the dark storm clouds rolled in, we had a rush on the booth for refunds.  Guests were very happy for this option, and some of them chose to donate all or part of their remaining balance to the Scottsdale League for the Arts.

cactus flower with rain

Usually rain is an exciting thing in Phoenix -- giving the desert a wonderful smell and allowing everyone to cool off

By the way, in case you are wondering – I volunteered alone for this one because Jay was playing his Best Man role at the bachelor party for his brother Nate.

These 4 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Ken Brack.  Thank you for the support!