Ten years ago this weekend, I attended my first Relay for Life in Mount Vernon.
Mom had been a survivor for five years at that point, so it was an important cause to me. I remember it being blazing hot (as it is EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR.) but really festive and made me feel good to be there - made me feel like I could *do* something for Mom in her fight against breast cancer.
A year later, I was on the committee and serving as a new team captain - and Mom and Dad were attending the event, all smiles under our team tent.
Within five years, I had served as Online Chair, Publicity Chair, Survivor Dinner speaker, Local Summit speaker, then took on the task of Vice Chairing for a year, then Chairing the event for two years (while still captaining for our library team!).
It was exhausting, exhilarating, rewarding, amazing, and some of the hardest damn work I've ever done.
Mom never saw me Chair our local event.
Mom never knew that I was asked - honored - amazed - to be asked to serve on the Regional Relay Advisory Team last year, and will do so, I swear, until they kick me off. To be asked to mentor, guide, train and celebrate other Relay Event Chairs and leaders - me?
And I love it, and I love the people I train, train with, and have met across the Lakeshore Division.
I know a lot of people talk behind my back about me being "ate up" with Relay, but those people just don't understand - Relay for Life isn't a single, stand-alone, one-night event for me.
Relay for Life is the only therapy I have to deal with the still-insurmountable loss of my mother.
Relay for Life has introduced me to lifelong friends who are absolutely the best people I know.
Relay brings my family together towards a common goal.
Relay for Life is the only thing in this world that can bring me to my knees - literally - in tears, as I watch our annual Luminaria Ceremony.
Relay for Life has given my tiny life a purpose, a light, a reason, a way to fight back, a drive, a way to grieve, and so many friends and rewards, I can't believe how blessed I am.
Relayers are the best people I know.
I hope you'll be one of us this weekend - if only for a few minutes, an hour, or all night.
Everyone is a Relayer - everyone has to help us finish this fight.
Can't make the event, but want to show your support? Consider making a donation to my efforts right here:
I will miss Mom every day until the end, but I know...I KNOW she would be proud of the work I do to finish the fight, to bring exuberance and joy to the event, to train others well, to embrace and bring peace those who need it, to raise money, to bleed purple and to honor her memory every single day.
It's all for you, Mummy.
It's all for you, Mummy.
(Taken during the 2006 Relay)