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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Relay for Life

Have you heard the saying “charity begins at home”? Well, we'll be talking about that in today's blog. In today's Thursday Diary Entry, I will talk about why it took me so long to get active in community fundraising events, some of the events that I have participated in over the years, as well as the current fundraising event that I am taking part in later this summer. If you've ever considered doing something for your community while supporting a great cause, this blog entry is for you!

March 14, 2013

So far, March is progressing along nicely. Though admittedly, the weather could be cooperating a little bit more, I can't complain too much. March in Canada can be a difficult month to plan outings for. One day, it can be sunny and gorgeous, and then the day after, you're shoveling eighteen inches of snow off of your front sidewalk. That's just how we do March in Canada.

Now, June...June is a fantastic month. June is a month in which the days are filled with lots of sunshine, warmer temperatures, blooming daffodils, and people running around outside having fun. And, as it so happens, June is set to be a rather busy month for this blogger, as I have signed up for a charity event supporting a worthy cause. Would you like me to tell you all about it?

Have you ever heard of an event known as the “Relay for Life”? It's an annual event that is held every year in support of raising money towards funding research that will aid in the fight against cancer. Although the dates vary depending on the community, in my town the event will be held exactly three months from today, on June 14, 2013.

And, here's the twist for the event. It will run from 7:00pm on June 14, until 7:00am on June 15. That's twelve hours straight walking around a track, taking part in activities, and listening to some wonderful local entertainment. How the event works is that we all are responsible for doing laps around the track, but if someone is feeling tired, we can swap out and someone else from our team will take our place. So long as one person from our team is out representing our team on the track, we're golden.

Now, the thought of staying up all night long for charity is going to be a challenge for me, but I'm definitely up to it. The thought of walking for long periods of time does make me nervous, but as long as I wear comfortable shoes with decent insoles, I should be fine. At any rate, I plan to have fun with it, and I'm taking on a few responsibilities in our team. I plan on typing up a few things that will help our team secure donations, and as part of my commitment to my cause, I want to post the link to our Relay for Life team.

To visit the “Walmart Cancer Kickers” team page, click here. You might notice that my name is not on there as of yet, but I have been assured by our team captains that it will be added soon. In the meantime, you will notice that our team goal is five thousand dollars. I know it seems like a lot, but we have ninety-two days (remember, March and May have thirty-one days in them) to make that goal happen. I normally don't ask for things from my readers, but if you're able to support the cause, you can click on the orange button on the right hand side of the screen that says “Donate to T#15 – Wal-Mart!” to make a donation to our team. There's no obligation to do this of course (and if you are willing, you don't have to donate a huge amount), but know that any donation of any amount that is given will be able to help out a great cause. Every little bit helps.

NOTE: Although this is a Canadian event, I'm sure that people from other countries can donate money as well. And, once my name does appear on there (I'll be the only Matthew on the list), you can donate to my individual name. Again, no obligation...just sharing the information that I have been given. Though, if you were to donate, my team will be very grateful!

NOTE #2: In fact, if you happen to be in the area, keep an eye out for this space every Thursday. I'll be using this space to update you on events that are going to be happening locally at our store to raise awareness for this cause. I'll keep everyone posted, believe me.

Now, some of you might be wondering why I've decided to take part in the Relay for Life this year. Well, I did it for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I wanted to see if I could do it, first of all. But, secondly, it's because I have lost several people close to me because of cancer. My paternal grandfather lost his battle with lung cancer on July 14, 2000. As well, at my workplace, we've lost several friends and co-workers to the disease. In the last five years, we've had to say farewell to Darleen, Mary Lou, Pia...and just this past September, my friend and former boss, Alex.

That's why I'm doing the Relay for Life. I'm doing it in support of the grandfather and my friends who lost their lives to cancer, and I am doing it so that one day we may be able to find a cure or a treatment so that we don't have to lose anybody else we love to cancer. And that's one thing that makes the Relay for Life team so great. Everyone who is taking part in the Relay for Life has been touched by cancer in some way. Some of us have lost loved ones to the disease. Many of us have friends or family members who are currently battling cancer. And, some of us are cancer survivors who beat the odds, and are now cancer-free. People from all walks of life and all backgrounds, fighting for a cure, and remembering the lives cut short because of it. It's a beautiful thing, and I really wanted to be a part of it this year.

It's not the first charity event that I have taken part in either. I've done quite a bit of work with the Children's Miracle Network as well. In 2009, I entered a bowling tournament (you can see the picture of me looking like a goofball up above), and I only ended up bowling a 111. I participated in another bowling event for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in 2012, and did even worse. But, I blame the fact that I had a substandard bowling ball. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.

And, from 2009-2011, I took part in the Walmart Walk for Miracles in Ottawa, Ontario (complete with Star Wars characters and a T-shirt written in French) to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). I wanted to take part in 2012 as well, but could not get the time off work to do so. But the three years that I did take part were fantastic. I ended up doing the 5-kilometre walk in just under an hour! And, hey, all the money went towards funding a children's hospital that I and many members of my family have had to visit in our youth at some point.

I think it's important to give back to the community you are from by taking part in such events. And, for me, taking part in these events have helped me become a part of something wonderful.

I didn't always feel this way about doing charity work though. When I was younger, I didn't really do much in the ways of charity. Oh, sure, I did school fundraising where I sold chocolates, candies, cheese wheels, and wrapping paper to my friends and family members, but I'll be the first to admit that I did it all for the wrong reasons. You see, for the top sellers in the whole school, there were incentives in the form of prizes, and that's what my peers and I did. We purposely sold these trinkets and items to get free stuff. Nevermind that the money went towards planning school field trips and sporting events. I just wanted the ghetto blaster at the end of it all.

Again, I didn't do it for the right reasons.

But what about events that actually raised money for various causes? My school was big on the “Jump Rope for Heart” event, in which you would skip rope to raise money for heart and stroke research. I skipped out on that event (though to be fair, my rope skipping skills were atrocious at best). I also skipped out on events like the 30-Hour Famine, school events designed to save the environment, and other fundraising events for various causes.

Why did I do this? It's simple. I didn't feel as though I would be able to bring a lot to the table. I thought that people wouldn't listen to my ideas, or ignore my contributions, or even acknowledge my presence at all. I didn't take part in these events beforehand because I felt as though I wasn't needed. I thought that they would raise more money without me around.

It really wasn't until I was encouraged by a couple of people to take part in the Walk for Miracles that first year. I was told that it would be a great thing to take part in, and that preparing for a five kilometre walk would help me get in shape. But, I also realized at that moment that taking part in an event that raises money for people who needed it more than I's very humbling. It made me realize that I should offer my own time and services towards causes that mean a lot to me, and not to think about myself so much. I should have realized that I shouldn't have cared what other people thought and just went ahead and did what I felt was right to begin with. It may have taken some time to get it, but I finally do.

And, now as I begin my quest to prepare for the Relay for Life, I'm ready for the personal challenges as well as the emotional impact this event will have. And, knowing that all the money that I am raising will go towards such a great cause...well, that makes all the difference!

So, with that, I end this blog post off.  I have some money to raise for my fellow "Cancer Kickers"!!!

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