I told you in my post before the post that I’d be recapping the 2012 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Monroe / Sky Valley.
In actuality I didn’t think I was going to. It had been a month since the event and it was time to move on. And then tonight we had our Wrap-Up Rally and well … the Relay is back in my mind.
I didn’t know how I was going to write my “Relay Recap”. Does everyone really want to read an hour-by-hour detail of the event? Does everyone really want to read anything I write? But then, as we sat through our Committee Wrap-Up Rally an idea popped into my head. OK, maybe popped isn’t the right word. In fact I actually just stole this idea from something Jerry mentioned, which is going around the room and sharing our favorite moment of the event.
If you’ve followed my blog (and if you haven’t – welcome!) you know that I like ranking and listing stuff. And if you’ve followed my blog (and if you haven’t – stick around!) you know that I like to babble on and on in my words. So, I thought I would list the five parts of the event that stuck out in my mind and share them with you.
I did share these five with our wonderful “Dream Team,” a.k.a the Committee, this evening but thankfully it’s much easier for me to get things out via words than in person where I tend to get a little emotional and the sun gets in my eyes. Inside joke for the 800-1,000 of you that may have listened to me or Jerry talk at the event.
Oh and I told you “Dream Team” that you would be able to read about this all in my blog! Holla!
NOTE: These are not the only five moments that I remember. The entire day was special. My buddy, who is a Survivor, flew up from San Diego to take part in the event. My Mom did an awesome (and better) job replacing me as Team Force’s Team Captain. Once again Team Force put together an awesome lip sync routine (thanks to some teenagers as well) to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” (click the link to watch the video). The Road to Recovery Parade was fun and “HOPE” placed second in the event. It was fun having so many new people, like my business partners, the youth at my church, dog show friends and more come out and participate and see why Team Force loves doing what we do. Thank you!
Here, in no particular order, because you can’t really put one ahead of the other, are my five favorite moments from the day of the event (June 4-5, 2012).
No. 1 – We Are Family
I call them our “Dream Team” but they felt more like family. Our incredible Relay for Life Committee. I’ve never worked with a group of people that seemed to gel as well as we all did. We proved it tonight when we could sit in a group and chit-chat together about everything. Heck, a few of the girls are going out tomorrow to see “Magic Mike”, which I think is cool since a few of them have never hung out outside of Relay.
These people were mine and Jerry’s backbone. They made us look good. They put in a lot of hard work and time – and all volunteer time – to make this event the best one I have ever taken part in. But the best part was seeing them all together, as a team, as a family. We all have our stories of why we’re here. You all know mine (and if you don’t just click on the topic “Cancer” on the right-hand side of the page). But there are so many others. A couple that have dealt with numerous cases of cancer in their family, a wife of someone going battling AML, as my Lisy did years back, parents, siblings, friends of people who have battled cancer, and we even have our own cancer survivor. It’s a wonderful group of people all fighting for the same cause.
We were very fortunate to have this group come together and I was so happy to see them all say they want to come back next year. Words really can’t express the gratitude that I felt by working with them all. I feel odd taking some of the credit for the wonderful job we did on the event because the credit should be given to them. And hanging out with them tonight made me realize how much I really do like these people and consider them my Relay family. Thank you!
No. 2 – Party Rock!
When Jerry and I signed up for this gig our first focus was on making Opening Ceremonies memorable. I was so pleased to see that a few of our “Dream Team” members mentioned Opening Ceremonies as their highlight (and a few of the Team Captains agreed).
Jerry and I thought about how we wanted to do it. In the past we have read off a script given to the Chairs by the ACS. In the past we just mentioned the Committee members (or didn’t!) nonchalantly. This time we had them come down the bleachers dancing like Ellen at a high school football game. Jerry and I then followed to a remix of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”. It was fun and memorable.
And, going off my first memory and stealing from my brother Erik, who was also a Committee Member, it was awesome to see the group of yellow shirts together in the Press Box ready for their debut. Yah, we looked like bees but as someone mentioned we were in the hive, buzzing ready to go! It was fun having them all together. It was fun for Jerry and I to watch our idea play out in front of us. What a wonderful emotion; what a great time!
No. 3 – Let Me Introduce My Reason I Relay
For the past few years I’ve thought about being the Event Chair for the Relay for Life. And I thought, “If I ever were to do this I’m putting Lis on the spot.” Sounds silly but I’m silly and most of these people know me as the lip sync dude, or Jerry’s sidekick. Some of them don’t know my story. Well for the ever-emotional luminaria ceremony I thought it was time that I put Lis on the spot. I would introduce myself and then have Lis and the kids come up. The kids were great. They all came up and stood by their Mom and I. I briefly told the packed house about Lis’s story and how Lukas was such a stud and an inspiration to her in her fight. Then I choked up when I mentioned that we were told we may not have any more kids but here were Lia and Levi. Just looking at them made me cry. She’s my inspiration – her spirit in the fight, her strength. She’s awesome and it was so great hearing people applaud her. She doesn’t like to be in front of people and likes to shy away from the attention but it was my way of honoring her and showing people why I do what I do for 10 months of the year – fight cancer by taking part in the Relay for Life.
No. 4 – Standing Oh!
It was time for Closing Ceremonies and I was beginning to feel nervous. Jerry and I had talked about switching the time frame for the event and I asked him to wait until after this year and let’s see how many people showed up for Closing Ceremonies. It was never a well-attended part of the event with many people going home in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn.
Now there were just two bleacher rows filled in. It didn’t look promising. Like what I wrote about Opening Ceremony, this was something we strived for improvement. We even got Albertson’s to donate donuts hoping it would entice people to stick around.
It did! Slowly people started to file in and by the time we were ready for Closing Ceremonies we had a section of bleachers filled with people. Jerry and I choked up just looking at it, knowing that once again our hard work has paid off. After the ceremony, Kelly, our wonderful ACS Staff Partner, began to think us for the job we did and then something weird happened. People began clapping and standing up thanking us for a job well done. We both lost it. I had never received a standing ovation (heck, even just an ovation) before in my life. It was nice to be recognized for the hard work we had put in. After 10 months of preparation, ignoring my family, putting in a lot of mental time (and work time) into this event it was finally done and the standing ovation was a wonderful closure to the event until …
No. 5 – The Final Walk
Kelly mentioned doing a reverse lap as our first lap for 2013. What a great idea! The people in attendance led us onto the track. Jerry, Kelly and I lagged behind talking about the event and watching everyone in front of us. The solid group of people that had stuck it out for 24 hours! It felt nice. A nice way to reflect on the event. The three of us walking together in what may end up being our last walk together.
I don’t say it enough but it was awesome working alongside Jerry and Kelly.
Kelly is awesome. She wasn’t sure if she wanted two boys (not men, boys) running the show but she took a chance on us and really, a big part in what we did was because we wanted to both prove to Kelly we could do this but to also show people that the chance Kelly took on us would pay off. She was our “Big Sister” or “Mama Bear”, making sure we kept things in check or checking up on us. Often we were one step ahead of her, and often she needed to remind us one extra time. Together the three of us worked wonders as a team.
Jerry and I complement each other well. I do the paperwork, he does the motivational speaking. I answer emails, he gets everyone excited to raise money. I oversee the “sensitive” Committees (Survivorship, Luminaria, Mission Advocacy), he oversees Entertainment, Logistics, Food & Hospitality. Together we took turns doing publicity (he passed out flyers, I wrote articles in the local newspaper). We worked well as a team and it showed in the job we did. Even if we disagreed, and there’s always a disagreement when you’re putting together a project like this, we were able to agree to disagree and usually ended up taking turns on who’s side we were going to agree on.
There you have it … five highlights from the 2012 ACS Relay for Life. It was a privilege working with everyone mentioned above and I thank you all for once again proving why it’s my favorite day of the year!