As this again isn’t strictly a sports related article, although Karen did play and coach basketball when she was younger I again have included the complete transcript rather than put her answers in prose, as well as not to lose the essence of the communication. What follows are Karen’s responses and thoughts to my questions:
Question: What is "Relay For Life"?
Response: Relay For Life is an American Cancer Society community event & fundraiser. Relays are held in communities to raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer. The events take place on weekends and involve participants walking through the night to "fight back" because cancer never sleeps.
Relay For Life started in 1985 with one man, Gordy Klatt, walking and running around a track alone for 12 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society, he raised over $27,000 in that one night - it has now grown to the flagship event of the American Cancer Society.
Question: Why are you involved in this cause?
Response: I am involved because 1 in 3 people will have hear the words "you have cancer" in their lifetime. I want to see a cure in my lifetime.
I have been active in the fight against breast cancer since 2002, having participated in the Avon 2 Day walk for several years. In 2005 my husband John was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. I was working at a farmers market and had met a woman who was involved with Relay For Life, a perfect stranger, invited us to attend the Survivors Luncheon at the Oak Lawn Relay later in the year. Sadly, John lost his battle with cancer and passed away in Feb 2007 but it was then that I realized that we needed to do more and I formed a team and joined the Oak Lawn Relay For Life to honor John's memory. My team is Karen's Bosom Buddies. The team is 15 participants strong and consists of family and friends. We have 4 Survivors on the team and the rest of the team has been touched by cancer in some way.
Question: As a survivor, what does a Relay and cause like this mean to you?
Response: Relay is a time to celebrate, remember and fight back - We celebrate Survivors at the event, Remember lost loved ones and Fight Back to help current patients and raise the much needed money to continue research, patient services and lobbying for legislation to help in the fight.
As a survivor, it is a time to reflect on my past and look forward to the future. This year the theme is "more birthdays”. The American Cancer Society is the official sponsor of more birthdays. It is the hope of every survivor and every cancer patient to celebrate more birthdays.
Question: What are your goals for this year and beyond?
Response: My 2010 Team goal was to raise $10,000 (as we have done in 2008 & 2009) and we have already exceeded that - but we are NOT stopping now. I believe in my heart that we can make it to $15,000 and will do whatever I can to reach that goal. Our 2011 goal will start at $15,000 because I know we can do it. We fundraise year round, I joke that the only day I don't do anything for Relay is the day after our event I take that day off. I sell at craft shows, events and on-line to raise money for our team and our cause.
We will continue to hold our fundraisers throughout the year. We have 2 Bingo events and several others. Watch Facebook or our team website for info on upcoming events. We strive to make a difference!
My ultimate personal goal is to work for the American Cancer Society. It is my passion and I believe I can do so much more if I am on staff. However, currently I am working on the committee for the Relay for Life / Palos. I am the chairperson for Team Development and fundraising. I am working closely with our American Cancer Society staff partner, Carrie Robinette, to make sure we have a successful and memorable Relay.
Question: Describe what happens at a Relay.
Response: Oh, where do I start....Relay For Life is 12-14 hours out of our regular lives, where we all come together for the cause. We walk, laugh, cry and become one in the fight against cancer.
Relay For Life is usually held at a school football field or park where there is a track to walk. First of all, Relay For Life is a community event. I have heard it described as an OVERNIGHT BLOCK PARTY! Each team is there at the track and is asked to have one member of the team walking the track at all times. While participants are walking there are also a lot of other things happening. There is entertainment, music, games, food and fun. There are decorated tents lining the track for each team that is participating. Teams are encouraged to continue to fundraise at the event, so you will see lots of fun things to do or buy and all the money goes to the cause.
There are a few parts of Relay that I want to mention:
Opening Ceremonies & Survivor Lap - this is the beginning of the event. All the survivors that are present are asked to walk a lap, while the rest of the crowd cheers them on. It is a very emotional lap - the survivors, young and old, some in strollers, some in wheelchairs all dressed in purple tee shirts that say " survivor" or "living proof" walk that track as a Victory Lap. After the lap, the survivors are honored at a luncheon that is donated by a community restaurant.
The day continues with music, entertainment and fun. There are games and activities for kids and adults, selling of goods to raise money. There are "fun laps" that encourage participants to dress up or do silly things (crazy hat lap, turn your back on cancer lap (turn your clothes backwards etc).
The most memorable part of Relay happens at dusk. It is the Luminaria Ceremony.
Throughout the year and at the event, you can honor a survivor or remember a lost loved one with a Luminaria bag ($10 donation). As darkness falls over Relay, the track is lined with the Luminaria bags, glowing in the darkness - lighting the track. The ceremony involves a walk in silence to remember after the names of each loved one has been read. It is the turning point in the event. It helps you to remember your why for being there but also gives you HOPE - hope that what you are doing is making a difference. The track stays lit with the bags the rest of the night...as we walk through the darkness because cancer never sleeps.
The event continues with more activities and socializing through the night. There is a Mr. Relay event, where guys dress up like woman and walk the track for donations...it is hilarious! Ours will be at 10:30 pm and Mike will be dressed in his hula outfit, don't laugh he pulled in over $200 last year at the event!! Come out to see it!!
At day break, around 6am there is a fight back ceremony and closing ceremony. The fight back and closing is the culmination of entire event. We leave the event with the determination to continue the fight against cancer. We also leave the event having made a difference.
Question: What is your favorite part of Relay?
Response: The Luminaria ceremony. It lets me remember my "why" - why I participate, why I am a Survivor, it brings peace and hope to me, there is nothing like seeing all those bags lining the track. In the bleachers is the word HOPE spelled out in lit Luminaria bags. It is a very emotional time for me but it is the most special part of the event.
Question: How can people get involved?
Response: People can do a lot to be involved. The best way to get involved is to go to a Relay For Life event. You can attend or better yet, get a team together and be there for the entire event. The community is welcome and encouraged to attend. You can check www.americancancersociety.org to find a local Relay For Life event or for volunteer opportunities in your area.
If you want more information feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: Can people attend Relay?
Response: ABSOLUTELY! The more the merrier!! Please come out to ours at:
Alan B. Shepard High School
13049 South Ridgeland Ave.
Palos Heights, Illinois 60463
It is June 12 & 13th. We start at 4pm and end at 6am. For more info check our website: www.relayforlifepalos.com. You can come for the day or just stop by - there is no age limit, no entrance fee and everyone is welcome. (Please no pets, smoking or alcohol allowed at the event).
Question: Where can people donate?
Response: You can go to our webpage: www.relayforlifepalos.com and donate to our team (Karen's Bosom Buddies or find a participant by name and do an online donation). If you prefer to mail a check, make it payable to American Cancer Society and mail it to me at: Karen Bruck 6612 W 103rd St Chicago Ridge, IL 60415
We are also running the concession stand at the event as a team fundraiser, so if you'd like to make an in-kind donation, we are looking for cases of bottled water, cases of pop, cases of potato chips etc. Contact me to make a donation.
Question: Anything else you would like to add?
Response: I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my supporters, for the generous donations. I also want to thank my Team - Karen's Bosom Buddies - I love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do! Because of all of you - there is HOPE! Hope for a cancer free tomorrow...a world with more birthdays.
Please know that the American Cancer Society can be reached 24/7. You can access the website www.americancancersociety.org or call 1-800-ACS-2345 and get help anytime. They offer many programs for cancer patients, caregivers and survivors - please support this worthwhile cause. We have all been touched by cancer!
The only addition I have is a gentle plea. We have all lost a family member or a friend to some sort of cancer, my cousin Jack and uncle Marty to lung as well as my aunt Pat to several forms in the past couple years. But we also all know survivours and Relays will produce more! Come out and support this cause. See me in various costumes (Snack Fairy), I think I will be auctioned off this year (Chicago Salmon 1858 Base Ball Uniform) as well or whatever the team dreams up. If you wish to make a donation for my walking, click here. Thank you!
~ Coach Mike