I guess they have things like this in different areas around Syracuse, but I went to this one, Relay for Life in Baldwinsville, on June 17th. This is a drive to raise money for cancer research, and my friend Scott Thomas put together his own team, Team Hee Haw, that raised money, and a lot of it, over $5,300. They were the top team, and congrats to them.

Why is this issue so important to them? Over the course of the last few years he’s lost his sister, a nephew (son of his sister), his father in law and his brother in law’s wife. I believe other family members of his have been touched by this horrible disease as well; I’m not fully sure.

This topic is kind of close to me as well. My dad had lung cancer, his oldest sister died of breast cancer, and my grandmother has had 3 separate bouts with cancer since 1963 (and she’s still alive, which makes her a 48 year survivor to this point). One of my cousins had and beat breast cancer, another cousin beat cervical cancer. And my wife’s mother passed away from breast cancer as well. Cancer is scary stuff because no one’s really sure where it comes from other than cigarettes for lung cancer.

The event has grown a lot since I first learned about it. Last year my wife and I went and it was well attended, but nothing like this year. I missed it the year before. There were many high school students participating this year, as well as high school musicians that I learned played often throughout the night. It runs from 6PM to 6AM the next morning; no, I’m not quite that hearty as it’s outside and I don’t do bugs. However, I was there for one of the coolest things they did, which was releasing balloons at different intervals for both survivors and people who were no longer here.

And what teams do is walk around the track, although this year they didn’t hold it at the high school so the “track” was, I believe, part of a parking lot; I’m not quite sure, but one could walk around it and it wasn’t a perfect oval. There were speeches and other musicians, and at some point in the night they lit bags for a luminaria, with each bag having the name of someone who had passed away. I saw pictures later on, and in my mind it was in stark contrast to earlier seeing the people in the purple t-shirts walking the path, those being cancer survivors.

Cancer is one of the few charities I give money to. I give what I can, but I spread it around to other people who do things for cancer as well. I think it’s a wonderful cause, and probably everyone by now has been touched in some fashion by it. I thought of the young lady I met on Facebook when I first joined who I played Scrabble against for a few months before she died from it as well.

Oh yeah, Scott’s table also had a raffle with the best prizes of the night. I ended up winning the Wii game system, which my wife, surprisingly, is happy about. I was shooting for the 46″ flat screen TV but winning second place isn’t bad considering I’ve never won anything before like this. Of course, the puppy wasn’t necessarily happy, but he brought a nice touch to the proceedings.

If you ever have a chance, give to cancer research; one day it could be you looking for a solution.