Friends and colleagues, did you know that the Tigard / Tualatin Relay For Life is a pretty big deal in our business? In addition to sponsoring this event as a company, Megan is the Event Chair (read: head honcho) and I am the Luminaria Chair and our company team walks the track and camps at the event the entire 24 hours. I’m excited to say that this year has already been our most successful fundraising effort in the 6 years we’ve been involved the event!
What we need right now is participants and I would love to see you there! It’s at Fowler Middle School in Tigard from 10am Saturday to 10am Sunday. You can come for an hour or stay the entire 24! You can come and walk, or just enjoy one of the numerous activities happening (I’ll be singing Karaoke at 7pm if you’re interested). You can register for FREE, make a donation, or dedicate a Luminaria bag here.
If you’ve never been, our Relay is a social fundraising event where teams take turns walking around a track for 24 hours to raise money for important cancer research, transportation and lodging for cancer patients, and other vital patient services.
For the past five years, I have been in charge of the Luminaria Ceremony, which is what I think of as the emotional center of the whole experience. It is where we all gather together together to remember the people we’ve lost, support those who are fighting, and celebrate those who have won their fight. Even if only for now.
As the sun goes down on the day’s events, we begin to line the track with hundreds of Luminaria bags decorated by families and friends who are celebrating or remembering their loved ones. Each bag is given a candle and, as it gets darker, those bags become the light that leads our way during night time hours.
We all have different reasons for Relaying, but every year during our ceremony, I share one of mine. The first year, I told the story of mother’s best friend, who I had known my whole life. She had taken me on a “date” when I was 5 to see An American Tale and then to Chuck E. Cheese after. She always remembered my birthday with thoughtful cards and gifts and, several years later, it was one of these presents where she had gave me the first novel that I ever truly loved. It was a shock to all of us when we got a message that she had fallen ill while traveling the world, and she passed away a very short time later.
When I shared her story during our ceremony, we all looked out at the track and realized together that every Luminaria bag represented someone who meant as much to somebody else as she did to me. I’m sad to say that every year since, I’ve had a new story to tell.
But our event is not about sadness, it is about HOPE, and our Relay is in no short supply of it. When I see our progress over the last six years, I am filled with hope for the future. In the time I have been on the committee, we have raised over $200,000 in our community and with the growth of our event, we think we can add another $100,000 this year alone.
This event isn’t always easy. It’s a significant time commitment throughout the year and it often takes away from time our family could spend together. But the event also gives back to us in ways we don’t expect. From friends and family reaching out to offer words of encouragement, to forming unexpected relationships with people in our community, to showing my children what it means to be involved in a cause I believe in, Relay always find new ways to surprise me.
I hope you can join us and share the ways Relay can surprise you too.