I am the sponsorship chair for our town's Relay For Life. This is a really big deal to me for a couple of different reasons. The first is that my family has been affected by cancer more times than it should have, and second, I want my boys to see that there are many ways to contribute to your community besides writing a check.
A few years ago I got laid off from a job where I was traveling about 10 days out of the month when I had three year old and an eight year old boys. It was very hard to arrange my schedule and it was truly taking a village to raise our kids. I am fortunate to have family close by, but sooner or later something had to give. It was a a blessing when I had the decision made for me to leave this position.
When all of this happened I had a ton of time on my hands and was all of the sudden thrust into being a full time mom. Instead of being out in the world wondering what was going on at home, I was home wondering what the rest of the world was doing. It was one day while I was playing yet another game of basketball when my neighbor came home and said that she had just volunteered to be the chair person for Relay. I was looking for a reason to get out of my house and meet new people so I asked if I could help. Before I knew it I was the publicity chair for an event to which I had never been.
Cancer is a very personal thing. Ordinarily when one of us gets involved in something you get at least ten of us whether you like it or not. With this I am the only one that actively participates. It is just too painful for the rest of my family to join in. In our family we have lost many family members, but my most personal pain comes from losing Uncle Joe. He was an amazing man with many talents. He was an accomplished piano player that could play anything. If he didn't know a song he would really say, "can you sing a few bars?" and nine times out of ten he could play it from there. On the holidays he would stay at my house and that is when I really learned what an amazing man he was. He was funny and loved to laugh. He never met a sweet he didn't like. He had an amazing view on life and helped me to see things in a different light. He was great with Child 1 when he was a baby and we would look forward to his visits. He had his demons like all of us do, but that made him into the man he became that I came to love with all my heart.
Relay is an amazing event. It sounds cliche, but the event has touched me in many ways. It enabled me to deal with my personal loss and celebrate the amazing man my uncle was instead of keeping in the incredible pain I felt from losing him. I would encourage you to see if your city is participating and consider joining. I have met some really fascinating people along this journey that have made an impact on my life. My kids are excited about being involved and that makes me feel like I am forging some good character in them in the future.
In short I feel like I am being seen and making a difference. It feels really good.