Last year myself and many of the people I work with were really moved by the struggles of a student in our third grade who was diagnosed with cancer. His teacher, Melissa, took a hands on, hearts on approach involving herself in making sure he was reminded often that we all thought of him and missed him as he journeyed through treatment. She and her husband took on the task of fulfilling his Make A Wish dream to head to Disney world with his family, and he did just that this year with a clean bill of health, and a full head of hair after a long journey, but a continuously wonderful attitude, and positive spirit. I've worked with this little guy a few times over the years, and he's precious. I took joy this year in redirecting some silly behavior that comes with being a 4th grader. I love that he's as much a part of life as ever, despite a year of unusual circumstances. He's still not allowed to be TOO silly in my group, but I appreciate the efforts and attempts all the same ;o)! We held various fund raisers last year like garage sales, bounce house drives, etc to help raise funds for the family's daily living that was strained with all the additional bills, and we also got involved with the American Cancer Society's all night Relay for Life with this story, and so many in our community directly impacted by cancer in one way or another. It's one of those things that touches everyone at some point or another. It has to be one of the ugliest words that ever entered my life, but it somehow brings the best out of people, and it certainly builds bonds that can't be broken amongst the victims, and caregivers. Last year we participed in Relay for Life as our student battled cancer, this year we participated in his honor because he beat it, thanks to the great research, and passionate people pursuing a cure that allow teachers like me to continue to correct silly behavior amongst 4th grade boys who get the chance to live a normal and healthy life.
We had about 20 members on our team (the picture at the top is not nearly everyone....I set my camera in water, and it would not work the rest of the night so I wasn't able to get a true group picture :O(...it's still not working, but that's the least of my worries). This year we raised money through online donations, a garage sale, a pickle sale (sponsored by our Beta Club), and a change drive (sponsored by our Student Council) that allowed the students to send our principal up on the roof to hang out for a day because of their generosity (it's probably the most uninterrupted work she has sat through all year). I don't know the grand total our group raised, but I know it was over 3000 last time I looked.
There were over 20 other teams from the city that participated. You head out to a field and stay up all night. The idea behind this concept is that cancer doesn't sleep, you can't take a break or rest from the journey, and neither do we. There are various ceremonies all throughout the night in honor, memory, and celebration of cancer victims. Here are two of our teachers, who are survivors. They came out in support of the cause, and kicked off the event by walking the first lap for us.
The relay portion comes in with the fact that someone from your team walks at all times throughout the evening. The track is lined with luminaries people have bought in honor, and memory of loved ones.
Each team was asked to choose a 'theme' to decorate their campsite with (the track ran past all the teams, so it was fun to see what each team came up with). The overall theme was 'Birthday Parties'....a celebration of life, seasons, and the years we have had with the patients. We chose a rodeo birthday theme (due to the field day theme most of the gals spent the morning participating in back at work), and sold cupcakes to raise additional funds (each team raises funds on sight as well).
It was a great way to spend time with co-workers, and I know memories and bonds were built that will make us all better working buddies in the years to come.