Companies and organizations put much thought into their branding slogans. I don’t know who came up with the American Cancer Society’s, but I absolutely love it: The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.
Because of the global phenomenon of Relay for Life fundraising events, it is true. These galvanizing community events reflect 24 hours in the life of a cancer patient. The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical and emotional effects and the mental state of a cancer patient who is undergoing treatment.
Relay for Life is the largest and most impactful fundraising event to end cancer. Each year, 4 million volunteers raise nearly $400 million to help the American Cancer Society save lives. Since 1991, there has been a 20 percent decline in the death rate from cancer, which equals 1.3 million lives saved. The Official Sponsor of Birthdays indeed.
Locals will have the opportunity to celebrate those who have survived, remember those who did not and fight back against this horrible disease July 19 at Armijo High School.
I first got involved with Relay for Life in 2010 when a favorite heavy metal singer of mine from back in the day, Ronnie James Dio, died from stomach cancer.
Of course, I personally have known numerous people who are survivors, like my sister-in-law Co-Colleen Stevens Martin; known many who have passed on, including Larry Juno and Frank Lopez; and know some who are currently fighting, like Daniel “Maus” McNary.
My first Relay for Life was a blustery day at Solano College, but what blew me away more than the strong winds was the community rising as one for a cause. I was also surprised that much of it was a whole lot of fun.
I had my own team, but didn’t stay the whole time, nor did I stay the couple of other times I went with my church. This year, I wanted to do more than just dip my toes in the pool: I wanted to dive in.
With the urging of Relay for Life veterans Donelle Kucala and Denny Cone, I agreed to lend any support I could, such as emceeing and networking. I was juiced after attending a planning meeting at the Suisun City American Cancer Society office behind the Cast Iron Grill and Bar.
I am going to relay with a whole new team this year – The I Grew Up In Fairfield Too Facebook group. While there are 5,800 members online, our team has only a handful. Still, we are a busy handful. We have already raised more money than I ever have on a team, and are poised to raise more.
My longtime friend and classmate Claire Cepeda Kelley hooked up a fundraiser – a dine and donate – at Chevy’s near the Solano Town Center mall from 4 to 9 p.m. June 11. If you come, please bring the flier here: http://www.armijoalumni.com/uploads/chevys_multiple_mini_flyers.pdf.
I also launched my three-level Humiliate Me and Fight Cancer fundraising plans last week. The AFC West Plan is for at least a $25 donation, and I will take a picture of me wearing either a Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs or San Diego Chargers hat at the event and post it to my Facebook account forever. It also comes with a personalized message I will hold for the picture.
The 49ers Plan is similar, but costs at least a $35 donation (the hair will never grow back once that cap touches my scalp) and for at least $60, I will do that stupid Colin Kaepernick kissing-the-biceps thing.
The Maximum Humiliation Plan starts at a $75 donation and I will wear a hat of one of my fave teams, the Raiders or Lakers, and a message that disses them (no profanity) and post it to Facebook.
All terms are negotiable and there are plans in the works for some to pool their money and have me dress as a Fairfield High School cheerleader. They have raised $185 – not enough. Especially if a wig and makeup are expected.
Relay for Life’s theme this year is Superheroes Wanted, so consider this column a bat signal on a cloud. We need your help. You can find more here:
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].