On Saturday, October 29, 2011, I participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k in downtown San Jose. The event started at the Arena Green, wound its way to the Children’s Discovery Museum, out to San Jose State, and back to the Arena Green. It was unlike any event I’d ever done.
Over the course of 3 months, our team grew from 3 to 18 strong. We fundraised via social media, emails, word of mouth, and printed marketing materials. We also worked with awesome local business owner Cindy of It’s a Girl Thing who was kind enough to donate a portion of a day’s profits to us. (She also allowed us to sell baked goods in her store, and all profits went to the American Cancer Society). The piece de resistance, however, was our team open house, an event which raised over $1000 for the ACS. Our final team fundraising tally was a whopping $3570, nearly $600 over our collective goal of $3000!
The walk itself was incredible. 12,000 participants came together, rocked their pink, and made strides to end cancer. There were survivors with pink sashes; teams with black shirts and tutus; and amazing ACS volunteers standing along the sidelines and cheering us on throughout the event. It was immensely powerful to see how many people had been touched by cancer and who were here because they knew they could make a difference. I was thrilled that my father, my brother, my cousin, my mother’s sisters, our neighbor, and others were able to join us for this event. I wished that my mother could have been there, as she was our team’s inspiration, but she told me afterward that she was planning to do next year’s. Her sisters and I rocked stickers for her:
It was wonderful to hear people take up our team name, Don’t Stop Believing, and start singing the song. The name became a rallying call for us throughout this whole experience–Don’t Stop Believing, Mom will get through chemo (she’s now finished 7 of her 8 treatments). Don’t Stop Believing, you’ll reach your fundraising goal. (We even exceeded it–and I exceeded my personal goal of $1000!) Don’t Stop Believing, Mom will feel better (she could even go out to dinner with us this weekend–what a change from before!)
This event truly allowed me to channel all of the sadness, fear, and anger that I initially felt when hearing that my mother had cancer into something far greater than myself. I feel as if this event, this entire fundraising process, and watching my mother stand up to cancer, have all truly changed me. I view the world differently now, and I definitely want to do this again next year. My cousin has also invited me to participate in a Relay for Life, which sounds amazing as well.
Don’t Stop Believing isn’t just a song, it’s also a way of living your life and embracing the possibilities. My mother still faces surgery and a recovery process, but if I’ve learned anything from her, a positive attitude makes all the difference in the world.