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The Day I Walked A Marathon: Relay for Life 2012

Last weekend was Relay for Life – I’ve participated in six Relays now, but this one just felt like it was going to be special. It was the first time I was spending the entire Relay with my mom, and it was the first time I’ve done a Relay that’s lasted 24 hours (college Relays are 12 hours).

I signed up while visiting home for Easter weekend, then worked my booty off fundraising online. My goal was to raise $500, but I honestly didn’t think I would raise that much in the shortened time span. With my work schedule, I knew I wouldn’t have time to plan an event.

But in the end, all of my friends, family members and co-workers really stepped it up and contributed to such an amazing cause that I hold near and dear to my heart. In the last day before Relay, I raised over $200! Not only did I reach my goal, but I went $75 over it 🙂

So I headed upstate Friday night and crashed at my parent’s house. Before I knew it, the high-pitched screeching noise of my alarm sounded and it was time to Relay!

But wait!

I had to get a hair cut first 😉

OK, so I got it cut after I helped set up the tent, but still. I hadn’t had one since January, so I think it was time to treat my tresses to some love. And I only paid $20 for it, versus the $80 I dropped when it was chopped in NYC. Quality haircut for an unbeatable price, if you ask me!

But back to Relay.

There were a ton of activities throughout the day and the music was pumping, but my legs felt the urge to walk. So I did lap after lap, and before I knew it, I was at 10 miles. Time flies when your family is walking with you, that’s for sure. We had so much to catch up on! My step-brother, Stephen, popped up for a few hours and walked five miles with me and I learned more about him during those laps than I ever would have if we were just sitting at home on the couch. Walkin’ leads to talkin’, I swear.

My high school buddy, Tim, stopped by for some late-night laps, too. I’m so grateful he did because otherwise there’s no way I would’ve stayed up so late. By the time he showed up at 11pm, I made it a personal goal of mine to walk the marathon distance. I didn’t care how long it took, I just wanted to cover the miles. Timmy definitely helped with that as we walked under the stars and chatted the night away. He stayed for six miles, so by the time he left I was at 16!

I walked a bit more by myself, reflecting on everywhere my life has taken me in the last year. It was nice to just look up at the stars and hear nothing but people walking and quietly chatting. Living in New York City is amazing, but escaping to the countryside is equally fantastic.

Soon it was 3:00am and in need of a cat nap. So I climbed into the tent I was sharing with my mom and step-dad, snuggled into my sleeping bag and slept for 2.5 hours. ‘Twas fabulous.

Waking up at 5:30am was easy, which always seems to happen when I’m camping – it’s just easier to wake up with the sun. So I crawled out of the tent, walked a few laps to wake up, and decided to run some miles to put me closer to my goal.

My step-dad clearly knows how to catch me with beautiful form.

I covered five miles, chatting with another Relayer who was putting in some early morning time on her feet. This was her first Relay and we chatted about everything surrounding the event, running and life here versus life in NYC. Great way to pass the time! But soon my tummy was rumbling, so I dropped her off at her campsite, finished another lap and stopped for an egg sandwich another team was cooking. Yum.

The rest of the event wrapped itself up rather quickly. I finished my miles with about an hour to spare! By then, my legs were pretty dang tired and i just wanted to sleep. But we stayed through the awards to find out how much money was raised.

One thing I never knew that I found rather interesting: Herkimer County, which is where this Relay was, is the fifth poorest county in New York State. Fifth. I had no idea. Yet everyone came together, worked hard and raised an impressive amount of money because it’s what matters to them. Blows me away.

Oh, you wanna know how much we raised? Last year, $75,000 was raised. In 2012, we went over…

$78,671!!!

We far exceeded our goals and did a great job fundraising. My mom’s team, the LFH Leap Frogs, made the Gold Level and raised over $6,000! We beat every goal we had set for ourselves and couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We’re already chatting about room for improvement though and have our sights set on the platinum level next year!

I had such a fantastic weekend, and this was a great bonding experience between my family and I. I loved spending Father’s Day with Ed, working together for a cause that means so much to us. And I loved chatting with my mom about everything going on in our lives now, while we fight something that tried to take her away from us. I’m so grateful for every single day I have with my family and this was another Relay that I’ll always remember ❤

I also want to shout a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated during my fundraising period. Your generosity means so, so much to me and I could not be more blessed. Family, friends, fellow bloggers and co-workers all contributed and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing people in my life. Sending thousands of hugs and kisses your way! xxoo

What about you? Have you participated in a Relay this year? Some of you have reached out saying you were doing one after reading my past Relay posts, so if you’re a blogger, please send me links!

Why I Relay

Happy Monday! I had a looong weekend and am finally playing catch up! But the great news is that Relay for Life was AWESOME and we raised over $75,400 for the American Cancer Society! My mom’s team did an amazing job and raised just over $3,400! What an amazing weekend spent beating cancer 🙂

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.

For those of you who don’t know, community Relays last 24 hours, which was a completely new experience for me because college Relays are 12 hours long. The whole day was fantastic and I really enjoyed walking around the track and participating in all of the fundraisers. I ended up completing 15 miles of walking in 11 hours, along with a few games of Kan Jam and an hour of Zumba (Fun Fact: I went to school and worked at the gym with the daughter of the guy who invented Kan Jam). It was scorching out, so I’m happy with the level of activity I had going on. I also had some delicious eats!

An apple a day...

Needed some dairy.

More fruit!

And the one that stole the show…

Pulled pork!

There was a tad too much barbecue sauce for my taste, but I still gobbled it right up.

Nom nom nom.

I also split a funnel cake with strawberry glaze with my sister, but forgot to snap a photo before we dug in. You’ll just have to believe me when I tell you it both looked and tasted delicious. Multiple apples and packets of string cheese were consumed, and I had breakfast outside of the Relay, too. Yum!

Why I Relay

Instead of detailing every single thing that went down, I thought I would tell you about why exactly I Relay every year and then include some photos that I took at Saturday’s Relay. If you have any questions afterward, feel free to e-mail me or ask in the comments!

First and foremost, I Relay for my mom. My mom was diagnosed with muscle invasive bladder cancer when I was a freshman in college, and let me tell you, nothing hits you quite like hearing that your mother has cancer. After all, it’s MY MOM. I still remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with when she called and gave me the news.

My brother Justin and mom.

I remember breaking down multiple times throughout my mom’s battle, terrified that I was going to lose her. Even just typing this now makes me cry. Cancer is such a terrifying thing — it rips control away from the person dealing with it and turns their own body against them. My mom was literally fighting for her life every single day and I am so proud of her for the strength she showed through such a difficult time.

Luckily, I also remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with when my mom called and told me that she was officially in remission! I was in the dining hall with my roommate, Meghan, who was there for me every step of the way and we were lovingly dubbed “Relay Roomies” ever since our freshman year.

Love my roomie.

I also Relay for the many other people in my life who have been affected by cancer and survived. Liz’s dad conquered lymphoma when I was a young girl, a faculty member I was close with at my school, Jay Button, beat stomach cancer, and one of my cinema and screen studies professors, Amy Shore, was diagnosed with melanoma multiple times and sent it packing each time. These people are all a symbol of hope and they remind us every day that cancer can be beaten.

It's always there.

I Relay in honor of those we have lost to cancer. Right after my mom was declared in remission, Meghan’s aunt passed away. It was unbelievably cruel to experience so many emotions on either end of the spectrum. Each year Meghan and I team up and Relay to celebrate my mom’s life and to fight back against cancer for her aunt. If we don’t fight, cancer wins.

Messages to Heaven.

But we also Relay to remember those who have passed away from cancer. The co-founder of Colleges Against Cancer at Oswego State is Ginny St. Onge, a dear friend of mine whom I’ve known since I was a young freshman in college. She is one of the nicest, smartest and kindest women that I’ve ever met — all qualities that she got from her mother, Nancy St. Onge. Ginny founded CAC in honor of Nancy, who battled with breast cancer for six years. Sadly, Nancy passed away in October 2010. However, she did not lose her battle to cancer. Cancer was never able to steal her spirit, her smile, or her hope. It couldn’t take away the love that she shared with everyone.

Sending off our loving words.

We always honor those who are no longer with us at Relay and are reminded that they are with us, in spirit, every single day.

We love you.

Always in our hearts.

I Relay to fight back with everyone else who wants to beat cancer. There are so many people I don’t know personally who are battling or have battled cancer, and my heart goes out to them every day. Julie’s mom beat breast cancer and Caitlin’s neighbor, Tonya, is currently fighting an inoperable brain cancer. If you think about it, everyone you know knows someone who has been affected by cancer. I Relay because I can’t wait for the day when people don’t have to constantly hear the words “you have cancer” or “my special someone has cancer.”

Celebrate life.

Finally, I Relay because without events like these, my loved ones may not have had the resources they needed to fight cancer and stay in my life. I can’t imagine living a life without my mother in it and I’m so grateful each and every day that I still get to see my mom’s beautiful smile.

These people are why we Relay.

If you haven’t participated in a Relay for Life yet, I strongly encourage you to at least check it out. We’re at the peak of community Relay season now, so look for one and consider joining. You don’t have to stay for the full 24 hours, but think about going and seeing what it’s all about. I promise, it’s not all about being sad and crying. In fact, most of the time everyone’s smiling and laughing! You get to decorate your campsite to try to win cool prizes…

Before we decorated.

After!

And you can enter raffles to win sweet basket prizes…

"Day at the beach" basket.

"Margaritaville" basket!

"Life's a picnic" -- my mom made the quilt!

And they always have live bands and entertainment going on throughout the day. Plus a bunch of teams sell delicious eats!

That about sums it up for me. I hope everyone else had a fantastic weekend!

Are you participating in a Relay for Life this year? Have you ever? What did you think? 

Fitness Passions

Fellow blogger Julie, over at Peanut Butter Fingers, posted a fun survey pertaining to things you’re passionate about. I decided to answer the survey, but make mine all about fitness! Drum roll, please…

Four TV shows I watch during cardio:

  1. The Biggest Loser
  2. The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  3. Dancing with the Stars or America’s Best Dance Crew
  4. America’s Next Top Model

Four things I’m passionate about:

  1. Testing new workouts.
  2. Outdoor activities (hiking is my favorite!).
  3. Training and helping others reach their fitness goals.
  4. Fighting cancer.

Beautiful survivor cake from RFL 2010.

Four things I’ve learned in the past:

  1. Don’t let the past hold you back. Who you were back then doesn’t define who you are today.
  2. Always be open to change. You never know what amazing things will happen.
  3. Communication is key. You need to know your limits and clients need to communicate with me to help me determine theirs.
  4. Find your reason. No matter what it is or who it is that motivates you, your passion is what’s going to push you past what you thought was possible.

Four things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Graduating in May and looking for jobs to moonlight as a personal trainer.
  2. The half-marathon I’m going to run in April.
  3. The triathlon I’m going to compete in this spring.
  4. Relay for Life at Oswego State to raise money all night to fight cancer.

Four things I love about winter:

This one’s tough for me because I’m not a huge fan of winter, but here’s what comes to mind…

  1. Ice skating.
  2. No humidity.
  3. Snow shoeing.
  4. Kisses under the mistletoe. (Did you know kissing for one minute burns 26 calories?)

It’s your turn! What fitness things are you passionate about?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Over, Are You?

October is over and with it goes the constant flooding of pink surrounding every street you cross and every corner you turn. But does that mean you should forget about cancer research fundraising and all of the passion you invest into the cause during that month? I don’t think so.

I’m just like the rest of you – once October hits, something inside me goes stir crazy and I find myself constantly getting involved with anything related to breast cancer awareness. I’ve turned my Facebook profile picture pink, worn pink clothing and died my hair pink, all to raise awareness so people will remember to fight for the cause. Because who doesn’t want to live in a world where cancer doesn’t exist anymore?

Although raising awareness is great, donating money to the cause is even better. After all, if researchers don’t have money then they can’t keep breaking scientific barriers to bring them one step closer to a cure. So I crammed as many fundraising efforts into my schedule as I possibly could, and essentially broke my wallet in the process. But it’s worth it if people I love don’t have to suffer from this disease anymore.

First on the calendar was the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Syracuse! This was such a fun day. My roommate, Meghan, and fellow Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) member, Kyle, woke up at 6:30 a.m. to make the 45-minute commute over there and leave plenty of time for browsing tents and spending more money.

Check out our new lei's

For only four hours of my Saturday, I was one of 6,000 walkers who helped raise $400,000 for the American Cancer Society! Not to mention I had to support Betsy Barrett, the new coordinator of Making Strides and my former ACS partner who helped coordinate Relay for Life!

All smiles after the raised amount was announced. Way to go, Betsy!

Upping the ante on the fitness level,  I participated in the Great Pumpkin 5K Run sponsored by the Cooper/Glimmerglass Fitness Centers that I work at. We raised $800 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and had 222 participants — more than double last year and the most we’ve ever had! (Quick pat on the back for my promo skills on that one!)

My pink sneaks propelled me to the finish line

My CAC chapter always sells breast cancer awareness shirts during October to raise funds for ACS, too. This year, we brought back the “Fight Like a Girl” slogan and added some new designs. So far, we’ve sold over 200 shirts. We know October is over, but like I said before, we don’t stop fighting for the cure when the month ends. We’ll be selling more shirts throughout the week. So if you’re in Oswego, we’ll be in the Campus Center Wednesday and Thursday selling them! Even if you’re not, let me know and I can fill out an order form for you. One for $12 or two for $20, and they come in a variety of colors!

You know you want one!

What have you done for Breast Cancer Awareness Month? I’d love to hear your stories!