I recently attended the Pettis County Relay For Life Survivor dinner. As the name implies, this free event is held to honor cancer survivors and their guests.
Many dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly to secure donations of food, drinks, party favors, door prizes and a facility, to make it a very special evening for their guests. Donned in black and white attire, volunteers served dinner while musicians played for the diners’ entertainment.
We enjoyed a delicious meal of brisket, potatoes, carrots, salad and, of course, a birthday cake. You see, the American Cancer Society’s latest campaign is “Celebrating a world with more birthdays.” And, you can’t have a birthday cake without a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” sung to all the survivors in attendance.
I’ll admit, it seemed a little corny when they began singing that old, familiar tune, but as I sat there the reality set in that so many of us in the room had nearly had our birthdays stolen from us by cancer. I couldn’t help but tear up a little to think that the birth of my first child, due this fall, was almost not a reality – one more birthday cancer could have stolen.
As dinner came to a close, a fellow cancer survivor shared her story, followed by a captivating video about the American Cancer Society. Even though I’d been participating in the Relay For Life for eight years, I learned many interesting facts that night.
For instance, in 1939, fifteen well-known doctors and business leaders in New York City founded the American Society for the Control of Cancer. At that time cancer claimed 75,000 lives a year in the United States alone. In fact, only 1 out of 10 people diagnosed with cancer survived. Their mission: to educate the public about cancer and take away the stigma from discussing the “C” word.
Later, around 1945, Mary Lasker got involved. This remarkable woman, an art historian and designer, took interest in the society. She and her husband, millionaire advertising executive Albert Lasker, along with their friends, bankrolled money for medical research. She convinced the society that, in addition to education, money needed to be allocated to research. And, that long name had to change. The American Society for the Control of Cancer became the American Cancer Society.
Years later, with many advances in cancer treatment and education, 1 out of 2 people diagnosed with cancer survive.
I’m happy to say I’m one of them.
At Callis & Associates, we’re living our mission statement, “…to have significance in our community, our industry and our world,” by participating in the Pettis County Relay For Life.
It just goes to show what can happen when people get involved. Find a cause. Support it. Fundraising is tiring, tedious work, but it can change lives. And it may just change your own.