Archive for June, 2011

Numbers were never my bag. I’m sure I came close to putting a few algebra teachers in the State Mental Hospital back in high school. Not because I wanted to; I just frustrated these people to the point of insanity. They worked with me one on one, provided peer tutors, they put in lots of overtime but I never got it. I never found the value of x. But that’s because I’m a “people person”.

But this episode of The Large Man Chronicles is about numbers (that probably means that it will be shorter than usual) I want to share the numbers as related to this Relay for Life gig that I’ve been talking about.

1: 100

One out of every 100 Americans participates in Relay for Life. Cool.

1: 5

One out of every 5 of my Facebook friends participated in Relay for Life. Very Cool.


There are 116 subscribers to The Large Man Chronicles.

1: 4.6

One out of every 4.6 Large Man subscribers participated in Relay for Life.


13 Betts employees walked the track at Relay. 24 additional family members of Betts employees (spouses, children, 1 boyfriend & 1 girlfriend) walked with, or for a Betts teammate. That comes to 74 feet on the Betts team walking the track of hope.


It takes about 5 minutes to complete one lap (walking) around the track, so our team took approximately 288 laps in the 24 hour Relay event. When you add the laps that were taken by multiple Betts team members simultaneously, to the best of my calculating abilities, we took over 1,100 laps


It took me 5 minutes to set up a personal web page that would accept donations for the American Cancer Society. I set an original goal of $500.00. I posted a link to this site on my Facebook page.

< 5

After posting this site on my Facebook page, it took less than 5 minutes to get the first 3 donations. The friggin cyber ink was not even dry…the friggin 1s and 0s were not even fully arranged when friends (and fundraisers in their own right) Bridget Rose, Julie Michalenko, and Rhonda (Sissy) Clement had dropped some start-up money on the website.

< 5

In less than 5 hours, the website had exceeded the original goal by $70.00


The dollar goal on the website  increased 5 different times, because we were meeting the goals so quickly. This is where the magic started to occur.


This is a sensitive line, because respecting someone’s desire for privacy is a must. But more than 5 of the people who donated either on the web page, or by other means, asked that their donation be kept anonymous. It’s actually much more than 5, but I have a “5” thing going here, and it’s still numerically correct…the amount is greater than 5.


I sent out 73 “shout outs” over 16 days to friends that donated to this cause…that may have been the most enjoyable writing experience of my life. Honoring friends and family is easy work.


The Betts team raised over $6,000.00…all of us with very little understanding of how to raise funds. The 13 employees that played this year will be better next year. We are excited about this team.


With more than $90,000.00 raised, the 2011 Warren County Relay for Life fundraising event was a success – by any measurement.

But because I’m not a numbers guy, I don’t know what all these numbers really mean, and I don’t know what all these numbers add up to. I have been told that numbers don’t lie. I have been told, “Just look at the numbers” when evaluating any kind of strategy. Numbers are simple emotionless facts.

This is what I do know… when you look at these numbers, they mean something more. Every one of these numbers is attached to a person. All these numbers are attached to someone’s heart and soul…that’s the good stuff.  All these numbers are attached to hope, or concern, or honor. We donate because we believe this can create hope for someone who is suffering. We walk a track at 2:00 AM, in the mud and the rain because we want to honor someone we have lost, someone who is fighting for their life, or someone who has won a battle with cancer. We do these things because we are people who are concerned about other people. That’s what these numbers add up to, and numbers don’t lie.

 The people who walked the track, and represented the over $6,000 dollars donated to the Betts team…Gomez and Wednesday Adams, Big Bad Bob, Jerry The Hammer, Jerry’s Kids, The Mighty Coursons, The Plundering Pillaging Lunds, Bobbie and the Mohneys, Mike The Iceman, Ryan’s Hope, Special K and her Wicked Spawn, APB and The Shrimp Shak Shooters, Wica Wica Wica, King Henry plus 3, and yours truly…were not thinking of themselves when they made this commitment. They certainly were not thinking of themselves when they honored their commitment.

It was cold, it rained, the wind blew, and some people didn’t sleep for about 40 consecutive hours. We had teammates who walked laps in the rain, all alone at 1:00 AM or 3:00 AM, to very little cheering or encouragement. We had a pregnant woman with her two-year old in a stroller, and when the rain fell, and the wind blew, she simply covered up the kid, picked up an umbrella, grabbed her husband’s hand, and kept on walking. I saw a lot of discomfort, but I didn’t see any quitters.

I didn’t see any quitters because every person that came, just like every person that donated, did it for hope, concern, and honor.

And that’s the truth, because numbers don’t lie.

Thank you to every person that made a donation. Thank you to every person who couldn’t make a donation this year, but encouraged this team along our journey. Thank you to the amazing Betts team for showing some real heart. You all make me want to be a better person.

Thank you for reading, and giving me a voice.

The Large Man

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How ‘bout that new Large Man Chronicles header? Becky Hampson did that! She also did the logo that’s on The Large Man Chronicles tee shirts. Thanks Becky – I love it. That beach is where I want to be.

Now to our story:

I took on a job several months ago at the request of one of my co-workers. My buddy, Jerry, walks into my office on a perfectly fine fall day and says, “I think you and I should start a company team for Relay for Life this year. I’m sure the company will pay the sponsorship fee, and we can raise a few bucks, and we’ll feel good about it.”

Most of the time when someone who is not my boss walks into my office and offers a suggestion of something I should do that would require work…especially when it requires volunteer work, my initial reaction usually is to tell them to screw themselves, and I also usually don’t use the word “screw”. But this is a little different case, because Relay for Life is a huge fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, and Jerry, my buddy and respected co-worker, is a cancer survivor.

Well shoot! What am I supposed to say? “No Jerry, I’m really too busy.” He knows I’m not. He drives by my house everyday on his way home from work. He sees my wife mowing the yard, he sees me on my deck having a cigar and a beer while I support my wife’s passion for, and pursuit of, the perfect lawn. He knows I’m not doing anything but writing this stupid blog once a month.

Because Jerry is healthy today, it’s hard to get your head around the fact that he survived one of the most vicious forms of cancer there is. He survived because he has the heart of a lion – a lion that adores his wife and kids, and refuses to let them know what life would be like without that lion heart. Jerry beat back cancer because he didn’t have a choice. He also got some help – he credits God and his medical team more than he credits his own lion heart. I’m no expert, but I’m telling you that it took all three.

He once told me a story while we were driving home from some revenue generation in Cincinnati about the doctor that saved his life.  I will always remember that moment.

His exact words were, “…and that’s when I finally got the meeting with the Doctor that saved my life.” How powerful is that?

Those of you that know me, know how out of character it is for me to shut up and listen, but listen I did for the next two hours as he walked me through his survival journey. Any words that I spoke were in the form of a question: “What does that feel like? When that happened, what did you do…? How scared were you?

He never seemed to get irritated with me, and his direct answers were mostly, “Oh it sucked dude!!” Or, “It was bad. I don’t know how I did it.”

But he did it.

So, what the hell; if he could go through all that, I can certainly volunteer to help raise some money, and be a co-leader on our company’s team. We made this decision late last fall. We didn’t expect to spend much time on the project until late winter or early spring.

* ****

The neighbors who live behind me are our city’s “First Couple”: Mark is our Mayor, and Barb is his wife. They were the first folks to invite us over for a “get to know you” visit after we moved to town. We spent the evening with them and a handful of other great neighbors from the block. They were gracious hosts, and since that Friday night almost 3 years ago, we have become good friends. We share a burger, dog or beer now and then, we BS around a campfire, we do what neighbors do.  I think it’s fair to say that my 10-year old son has a little crush on Barb, and she follows every conversation she has with him by saying, “That kid is so stinkin cute!” The two have a connection that’s very sweet, and funny to watch. They both light up when the other is in the room. So this alone puts Barb on my favorite people list…if you’re good to my kids, well… what else needs to be said?

Until this year, Barb had been the chairperson for our local Relay for Life event for 5 years running, and has served on the committee for 15 years. As the Mayor’s wife, Barb (and Mark for that matter) will spend a good bit of time volunteering for local functions. In a city as small as ours, the volunteers that step up on a regular basis are the people who make it work. People like Mark & Barb are the lifeblood of our town.

Me on the other hand, I’ll write a check when I can, but I’m not much for rolling up my sleeves and getting sweaty for a cause. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s just that I’m
lazy. There are other factors too; it’s a lot of fear, it’s the inconvenience, it’s believing that I’m too tired, and that I don’t have time. These are all weak excuses. The sad simple truth is that it’s laziness.

As a family, we were happy to support Barb’s effort in the Relay for Life event last year – her last year (at least for a while) as chairperson. Relay is a big event for our little town. This little town is quite something when it comes to Relay for Life. I bitch and piss and moan about our little city at least 3 times a week. This little Podunk town doesn’t even have a Taco Bell. This little town has 2 seasons – snowy, and rainy. But this Taco Bell-less little Podunk town of less than 10,000 people raised over $72,000 for the American Cancer Society at last year’s Relay.  It was a cool event – it had a hometown community charm that I felt for the first time since we moved here.  My kids loved it, they felt the vibe, and they made me promise that we would stay the whole 24 hours for the 2011 event.

In the last 16 years, this little town has raised over $750,000 for the American Cancer Society. Barb tells me that by our 19th year of Relay, or 3 years from
now, we will have raised over a million bucks. Not bad for a little Podunk town. I love those kinds of stories.

I would love to say that all this work, passion and fundraising are for a great cause, but it’s not. It’s a shitty cause.

The American Cancer Society does great things for millions of people; I believe that someone’s life gets saved every day as a result of the efforts by the ACS. But it’s a crappy cause.  I would much rather raise money for Teddy Bear distribution for rich kids, or have a telethon to raise money so we can make high purity make-up available to ALL beauty pageant contestants. How about a Relay for Beer?

These things would all be better than a Relay for Life, or the Susan G Komen 3 Day for breast cancer. If The Teddies For Trust Fund Kids Society, or TFTFKS were a real thing, and it had network coverage of its’ Relay event, then  that would probably mean cancer, and autism, and Alzheimer’s would no longer need a marathon, or a telethon, or a 3 day walkathon…no more “thons” for fear or misery. No more “thons” for terrible heartbreaking illness; I would rather not even have to talk about cancer. I would rather not have to talk about my wife’s Grandmother, one of my bestfriend’s father, and then his wife, or my mother. I would rather not have to talk to you about someone you love and your awful, heartbreaking loss.

I would rather just talk to Jerry; this living, vital, smartass, dude…this buddy of mine tilting his head up so he can look at me through his glasses, then asking me to help him with a project. I would rather be torqued off at Jerry because he came into my office on a perfectly fine fall afternoon, and asked me to help him raise money for Teddy Bears for rich kids. He would ask me this because he had recently survived the horror of not having a Teddy Bear, and he wanted to help others avoid the same suffering.  After the initial anger over the inconvenience, and the consumption of my time, I could get my head around something like that. It would be fun. This Relay for Life thing isn’t very fun. It’s not fun because of all the things I know.

But we’re gonna do it anyway.

In my very first Large Man Chronicle I promised that I would never try to sell you anything, and that I would never ask for anything. Today I’m going to break that promise. I hope this is the only time, but I never thought I would find myself here…so no more promises. I’ll ask you to trust that I probably won’t ask again. Never is just too big a word.

I am participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in my beloved home town of Warren, PA. I am relaying in honor of my Mom who I lost this year to pancreatic cancer. I will also walk the track in honor of all the other Moms who left this life too soon. The ACS goal is to create more birthdays…I like that. Hallmark probably likes it too, I’m gonna call them for some cash!

I am speechless (well…1,640 words later) over the support that our team has been given over the last 7 days. Friends and family, co-workers & customers have donated hard earned cash in a questionable economy, because they want to help.  If speechless is not the right word, then humbled, proud, or amazed would work.
The only word that doesn’t work is surprised. I’m not surprised. I run with a
pretty good group of people. Grateful is probably the best word…I am extremely
grateful to all of you who have supported this effort so far. We’ll write a tale about
that, after Relay.

So, if you haven’t already donated, and you would like to help, the link to my ACS Relay for Life page will be at the bottom of this Chronicle. If you can help, please do. If you can’t this year, no problem; I know I’m not the only person asking, so PLEASE, no apologies. We all do the best we can.

Like most places that take your money, the ACS makes it very easy with a credit card. If you don’t want to use a credit card, but you would like to help, send an email to thelargeman@gmail.com and we’ll give you an address to send a check…OR, go to the American Cancer Society and do something in your community. I would love to have you on my Fundraiser Honor Roll, but ultimately it all goes to the same place, and that’s all that matters.

Your donations are tax deductible, you can do it anonymously or you can leave your name. You can display what you donated, or you can keep it private. You can opt out of any future correspondence, or you can become a volunteer…you have lots of options, and they are all OK. If you choose to give on my page, my preference is that you leave your name so that I may have you on my “Honor Roll”, but it’s your choice. No amount is too small; no amount is showing off, and everything is appreciated!


Let’s create some birthdays.

Thank you, God bless you.

To be continued…

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