I attended an event last night, and I wanted to share.
My mom, my daughter Jami and I all attended our very first Relay for Life at Rocky River High School. And it was something. Really, really extraordinary.
I had heard of such events, but never got the details. I know that once you attend, you can't help but be moved. Everyone has been affected by cancer--everyone. This annual fund raising event goes on year-round for the teams that participate (and there were 76 teams in yesterday's event who had to raise a minimum of $800 each to participate). It's hard to believe, but the planning for the next event will begin as soon as this one is over.
For those of you not familiar, Rocky River is a local public high school. Their stadium and high school are in close proximity, so the whole place was decorated in honor of this year's theme, "Pirates of the Cure-ibberan." I have to share some of the amazing details with you all. No stone was left unpolished by these people...
The teachers at the school are amazing. I'm completely biased because the art teacher there is one of my best friends--Jennifer Bueck. She and her students worked wonders. (Notice no picture of her--she told me I'd have to walk the plank if I posted one...) So here is a photo of a few of the students who helped with the Survivor Dinner...
In the school cafeteria, they held a very special dinner for all the cancer survivors. They had the distinction of wearing purple t-shirts. And they were everywhere. Pretty astonishing to see. Cancer doesn't discriminate. All survivors and guests enjoyed an amazing dinner that was catered by Outback Steakhouse (generous company--eat there!).
Allow me to dote on my dear friend, Jen for a moment. The pamphlets which contained instructions on how to talk "pirate" was a huge hit. You overheard people calling one another "wench" (lady) and getting away with it. There was a big list of definitions, and people got into it while we enjoyed dinner. The place cards each contained a pirate name (she actually found a site that generated pirate names--can you believe?) and we all were addressed that way. Notice the Quickutz skulls on the place cards?
They also had a speaker who was a mother to a child survivor. Helen Killius was diagnosed with cancer when she was 5 years old. Mrs. Killius spoke of her story as a mother--with Helen right at her side. It was riveting. It made me reach over and hug my daughter tight. And as I panned the room, I realized each purple shirt had a story too.
The whole event was a celebration of life. Evidence of hard work and detail left everyone admiring and appreciating the decor, too. The art classes made murals that lined the walls and halls. They are a talented bunch! My personal favorite was the rope that held flags which lined the cafeteria...
How about the skull and cross-bones on all the doors? Thank you, Cricut Expression (don't you love the Indie cartridge?)
The centerpieces were made by Jen's mom, Susan Rhee. The container was a treasure chest, and survivors took them home. They had lots of "booty" (treasure) scattered around the table too...
You may recognize these paint cans from an earlier post. Jen made 75 of these "survival kits" for each one of the survivors to take home. Thank you, Sherman Williams!! She decorated and filled every single one of them and handed them out. The top of the can contained a poem, explaining the contents of the can itself. The can was filled with generous donations from local and national sponsors, and they were beautiful. I can't believe she made all those on her own...
It was a wonderful evening.
Jen's mom, Susan, and my mom both are survivors. Sitting between them I felt really honored. I am humbled by their courage and strength. I looked across the table to find another survivor, Sarah, (a lady you will hear more about in the future) talking with my mom about their stories.
Sarah, I know you don't know this--but she has never, ever done that to anyone in 8 years. She was so moved by your story when I told her about you this week, that she looked forward to meeting you. I'm so glad you two connected.
For you locals, stop up and join in on the fun if you don't have plans for today. The teams are still walking around the track all day long, and the public is invited to come and enjoy the festivities. There are booths and food (and I hear the liquid nitrogen booth where he'll freeze anything for $1 is pretty cool...) Come on out and support a great cause.
During this Memorial Day weekend, we honor those who have served our country. I couldn't help but also mention the service that goes on in communities and events such as this as well.
I hope you all have a splendid Memorial Day!! Go out and enjoy it!