Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Relay for Life Survivor Dinner Speech

Friday night I had the honor of giving the welcome and invocation for the Survivor Dinner for the Wylie Relay for Life. I don't know anyone whose life has not been touched by cancer. Whether you are battling this enemy, fighting for someone who is battling, celebrating victory, or grieving a loss, I want to share this as encouragement. Wherever you are on your journey, I pray this blesses you.

May your hope be strengthened, and may you keep on walking.

God bless you,

Wylie Relay for Life Survivor Dinner 2010

Last year when my daughter joined a Relay for Life team, we didn’t know much about Relay for Life. We understood the logistics of it. We understood raising money. We thought we understood all night.

However, there was so much we didn’t understand. We didn’t understand that Relay for Life isn’t a once a year event. We didn’t understand that once we were done, you weren’t really done. We didn’t understand that when we went home…we would take it with us.

We joined a Relay for Life team last year because my eleven-year old daughter had realized the world was a big place with big problems, and she didn’t feel a little person could make a difference. When I found out Stacey was a team captain, I asked if she had room for two others. No, but she had room for one, and Anna would fit perfectly.

The first day we set up her webpage and set her fundraising goal. Later that day, she exceeded it, and we upped her goal. Over the next few weeks, we upped her goal three or four times. When the day came for Relay for Life, she was very proud of the money she had raised, and because of the nice graphic on her webpage and the team’s page, she could see that her efforts were making a difference.

Then we got here, and the nifty little graphic on the computer suddenly became people…with names…faces…and families.

Each luminary that encircled the field told a story of merciless attacks on innocent victims. Some of the stories ended in victory, and some ended in tears. We have been part of those stories.

Each survivor that walked through this tent and slipped on a “Survivor” ribbon was a face we knew…the face of someone precious, someone loved, someone with a purpose, someone of promise. We have touched those faces, too.

Each caregiver that humbly wore their ribbons…the little girl who wore it for her mom, the parents who wore it for their pre-school son, the husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers…We know them. We’ve walked with them. We’ve prayed for them.

We were here to walk for people, and they weren’t the strangers we thought they would be. They were people we sit down with at family dinners, the people at our school functions, our neighbors next door. The people who walk the hard road, who become exhausted, who wonder if the mountain is too big…but still keep walking.

And people kept walking…all night long.

Some walked for those they had lost, and some walked for those in the middle of the battle. Some walked for those who had overcome. Everyone walked for a cure.

See, it’s not relay for raising money.
It’s not relay for a better treatment.
It’s not relay for endurance.
It’s not relay for 5-year expectancy rate.
It’s Relay for Life.
… for a full Life.
… for a long Life.
And every step gets us closer to our destination.
Every step gets us closer to the cure.
And one day, we will get there.
We just have to keep walking.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2010


Leanna Ellis said...


Anonymous said...

Leanna, thank you. It was so humbling. Such amazing people there...



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