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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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…