I Relay For …

It’s a question asked every year at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, usually during the the touching luminaria ceremony.

“Why do you Relay?”

I relay for my wife.

By now you all know the story. If you don’t well then you’re in the right place. This journal/blog is named after my wife’s battle with cancer. It’s title, “Lisy’s battle with leukemia” says it all. If you’re looking for the beginning let me lead you to the beginning. You can read my first entry here: Like a Ton of Bricks

For everyone else I’ll give you the brief synopsis:

Boy meets Girl. Boy marries Girl in foreign country. Boy and Girl have Baby Boy. Girl gets cancer five months after Baby is born and not even two years after Boy and Girl get hitched. Girl fights chemotherapy for 24 hours a day/seven days a week. Girl whoops cancer’s butt. Boy decides he wants to attempt to make a difference. Boy starts a RFL team. Boy suckers his family and friends to participate in RFL. RFL changes Boy’s life. Girl continues to fight chemotherapy and cancer. Girl gets in remission. Boy and Girl have a Baby Girl that they shouldn’t have been able to have. Girl celebrates five years of remission aka kicking cancer’s butt! Boy and Girl have another Baby Boy. Boy and Girl celebrate eighth anniversary and hope the next eight are a little less hectic.

Yep, it’s your typical love story.

I relay for my wife because it reminds me of the battle we fought six years ago (though she did all the hardwork) and every year it allows me to celebrate the life she still has and that we have together.

I relay for my wife because so many of my friends, family and total strangers supported us during the toughest month of our lives.

I relay for my wife because it allowed me to make a difference and to “pay it forward”. The ACS Relay for Life of Monroe banner hanging across Main Street Monroe was the first opportunity I saw to make that difference. I guess you could say it was a sign – literally – of the difference I could make.

I would like to think that in the seven years I’ve been doing this that I’ve made a small difference. Not only did the team that I organized raise over $19,000 in seven years but the RFL also gave me a chance to share our story of hope with other survivors or caregivers that are just starting their battle.

I relay for my wife because our involvement in the RFL has allowed me to find a talent, love and passion that was hidden inside of me. Not only has the RFL allowed me to make a difference to others but it has also made a huge difference in my own life.

The RFL defines who I am and what I’m about. I would rather point out to a prospective employer the work I have done for and with the ACS Relay for Life than my job work because it defines me more than my job as an insurance agent (zzzz).

The RFL has allowed me to play a part in the small community that I’ve grown up in. And though I’ve always had my sometimes-annoying organizational skills, I’ve found that I have a passion for building relationships and friendships and it has also given me a love for doing charity work and helping people out. What can I say I’m a giver. Ask my wife. 😉

All kidding aside, if anyone is looking for someone, or knows of anyone looking for someone, that is extremely organized, loves building relationships, loves working with and for the community, and has writing skills then you’ve found that someone. Hit me up here.

I find no better joy than putting together a FUNdraiser where people can come together and have a great time all for a good cause. I feel the need for a list (told you I was sometimes-annoyingly organized). Here are my top 5 favorite fundraisers that Team Force has thrown:

5. Karaoke 4 Cancer – It’s been our most successful fundraiser the last three years raising on average $1833. Nice work!

4. Car Wash 2008 – Great turnout. Decent weather. Spraying old ladies in the face with water from the hose. Working together as a team and raising $532 washing cars.

3. Enchantment Under the Sea 50’s Dance – Love me some theme parties! White t-shirts with fake cigs rolled up in the sleeves. Jeans. Leather jackets. Horn-rimmed glasses and Poodle skirts. We made $755 dancing to classic tunes at a great venue.

2. 80’s party – Love me some neon theme parties! Big hair. Participants came as the Karate Kid on Halloween, and Judd Nelson’s John Bender character in “Breakfast Club” with the guest playing the part the entire night. A lot of fun music. $5 cakes going for $50. Combined with Team Big Dog the total night made $1220.

  1. Empire Strikes Back 30th Anniversary Celebration – I heart Star Wars so this one holds a special part in my heart. I organized it in three weeks. I wasn’t sure if we’d get any of the 501st to show up. Instead we got Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Obi Wan and Boba Fett. We held it at my church and it played the part of an old-time movie house to perfection! We had a snack bar in the back of the sanctuary. It was amazing. We raised $413, which isn’t too bad considering the last minute planning. My favorite part of the night was watching Darth Vader and the gang walk in to the “Imperial March” and watching kid’s faces from ages 5-65 light up. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Where was I? Oh right…I relay for my wife because the money we raise doing our FUNdraisers could help someone going through what Lis went through or could eventually prevent someone from going through what Lis went through.

I relay for my wife because the RFL is the best fundraising event out there. We raise money for five months then we come together, usually on a sunshiny day in early June, and celebrate, remember and honor those that have battled cancer.

If you’ve never been to a RFL I encourage you, more than what I’ve written above, to attend. And if that isn’t good enough then (I feel another list coming on!) here are my top 5 events at the RFL of Monroe/Sky Valley.

5. Rubber Duckies – I don’t know where this came from. I don’t know if it’s just someone’s creation but Rubber Duckies is a fan favorite. You have a kiddie pool full of water. You have rubber duckies with numbers on the bottom. You have two teams equal distance away from the pool. You call out a number and they attack the pool looking for the numbered Rubber Duckie. It’s no holds barred fun!

4. Mr. Relay – See videos I’ve posted on my last two entries. It’s gotten creepy the past couple years because a 7-year-old boy has won, even besting my brother as La Fiesta, perhaps the greatest costume in the history of any Mr. Relay anywhere. Seriously…bring it!

3. Lip Sync Contest – They added this back in 2008 which allowed my brothers, Wes and I to allow the lip sync ghosts in our closet to come out. We conceded victory in ’08. We won in ’09 and ’10. What’s better than lip syncing in front of hundreds of fans? Winning the competition in front of those fans! You can find those videos under my entry earlier in the month about my life as a lip syncer.

2. Survivor Lap – I have to get sentimental here because after all this is what the RFL is all about – cancer and those that have fought it. I always attempt to fight off my emotions when Lis takes her walk around the track with her purple Survivor shirt on. The Survivor Lap opens up the ceremony and it always takes me back to the month of April 2005. It’s gotten a little more emotional the last few years. At first it was just her and Lukas, which was extremely touching, especially when you see this bald mom of a 5-month old walking around the track. Then it’s been Lukas and Lia walking around with their mom. This year she’ll have a full crew with Luke, Lia and Levi and the purple shirt. We take this and my No. 1 event for granted because we’ve done this for years but it’s still amazing to think about how far she’s come in six years.

1. Luminaria – Bag pipes playing “Amazing Grace”. Bags lit around the track with names, pictures, messages of loved ones that have fought and lost or fought and won. That darn Vince Gill song, “Go Rest High on That Mountain”. As I said for the Survivor Lap, we’ve taken this for granted but if you’re a newcomer this is the event you want to be at. You’ll never forget it. Bring your Kleenexes.

I relay for my wife because if she wasn’t here then everything that I wrote above wouldn’t have happened and I’d be the exact opposite of everything I described about myself above.

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