Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thank you

I'm embarrassed to be writing this, seeing as the last time I did anything to this website there was clearly still snow on the ground and no leaves on the trees. A fact I documented with a photograph and uploaded, as to let everyone know how much of a lazy and uninterested writer blogger I am.

"You see this here picture? The one of the beautiful winter sunset? It's all you're going to see on here for the next six months while I frolic in the strawberry fields and eat bonbons, all the while laughing at my (six) readers who are stuck in a mid-April winter evening. ENJOY."

Anyway, wow. Tangent! All of that to say I'm sorry I haven't been more involved. LET'S HUG IT OUT, BITCHES.

A large majority of my time the past couple of weeks has been spent organizing a fundraiser for the media's Relay for Life team. Relay for Life is an all-night relay that raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Basically a full 12 hours of taking turns walking around a track, listening to amazing survival stories, helping to fund cancer research. It's a super empowering event, so when I was invited to participate with the media team, I jumped at the chance.

Then I found out each team member had to raise $100. I started having flashbacks to grade school, when, walking up the neighbors' driveways (with Girl Guide cookies, chocolate bars, pledge forms, or car wash flyers in hand) I'd hear the front door close ever-so softly and an almost inaudible whisper.

"Here she comes again," they would hiss. "And she has sausages this time. Didn't we just buy an entire collection of encyclopedias from her? HIDE."

So, when I heard about the mandatory $100 (which, really isn't a lot, especially when it's for cancer research,) I said "Hey, why don't we just have a fundraiser and raise all of the money from that, and then we won't have to ask our friends and family for money and then people will still like us and we'll be the local heroes who raised the most money in history with our totally innovative and awesome event!" (When I aim, I aim high.)

Word to the wise: if you ever have a thought like this, just raise the money. Ask your family and friends to sponsor you. THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE THERE FOR.

We got to work (and really, I never realized how much work it would be) organizing our fundraiser, an "Arcade Night" at a local indoor golf centre, where people could play video games and win prizes. We only had two weeks to organize (WHAT? Media people, waiting until the last minute, barely squeaking by under deadline? UNHEARD OF.) so naturally, I was a fast-talking, list-making, bossy Tasmanian devil the ENTIRE time.

But it was so worth it. 

Looking around Friday night, as our friends and colleagues (and even people we didn't know) played games, laughed, and filled our brown manila envelope with cash, I felt like a proud mama. We'd done it. It had worked.

During the organization of the fundraiser, we hit up many local businesses for cash and prize donations. While we prepared ourselves for the word "no", (and I found myself checking under the cracks of front doors for stealthy feet shadows,) it never came. Virtually, everyone said yes.

My co-organizer Amanda and I were shopping for last-minute snacks (donated by a local grocery store,) and saw a businessman we work with on a regular basis. He asked what we were doing with all those bags of chips (trying to hide the look of horror on his face,) and we told him about our fundraiser. He pulled a $50 bill from his pocket and handed it to us on the spot.

Even an hour before the event, I ran into a local politician at the hardware store. He too pulled out his wallet and asked "what do you need?" 

People came, made extra donations, bought slices of (donated) pizza, played our games. Even people who couldn't make it bought tickets to support us.

Although I write about fundraising events and take pictures of cheque presentations on an almost-daily basis, I've never experienced generosity so directly as I did last night. I work in the news industry, so yes, I know bad things happen every day (I'm STILL not over the Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt breakup. If they can't make it work I may as well go out and buy 18 cats now.) but I also know that most people have good, kind, warm hearts.

 As a team, we raised a couple thousand dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society. But personally, this event helped me too. It made me feel so lucky to live in a place where people are willing to empty their pockets just to make fools of themselves dancing around in front of a video game screen, and act absolutely ecstatic when they win a Fridge Tamer. All because they know there are people out there, most of them complete strangers, who are sick, who are dying, who are fighting for their lives right at this very moment, and who need their help.

It's these awesome people who make life so beautiful. Who make the world so wonderful.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, with this uber-wordy, emotional (albeit humourous and well-written) soliloquy is this:

To everyone who supported us, from our sponsors, to the participants, to our fellow team members, who withstood various "How are ticket sales going?" and "Who can help us move this giant prize with their big, strong manly truck" emails:

The sincerest THANK YOU.

You guys rock (both literally - I saw you handling those Rock Band drums - and at life in general.)