I was 6 years old when cancer first hit home for me. My grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1998, and he passed away nine months later at the young age of 58. My grandpa loved spending time with his family whenever possible, so it’s no surprise that we had big gatherings at the restaurant my family owned. He never forgot to have a Shirley Temple ready for my cousins and me.
I can’t help but think of how life would be so different if there was a cure for cancer. I know many of you (if not all) have had the same thoughts. In 2020, each day there were approximately 4,950 new cases of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
My family’s journey with the American Cancer Society
My mom and her four sisters wanted to do something to honor their dad’s legacy. One of my uncles suggested getting involved with the ACS. Since my mom and her four sisters all live a very active lifestyle, they decided to run 100-200-mile relay races to fundraise. Our family running team motto is “Running for those who can’t.”
We participated with 12 runners, and each runner had a total of about 12-24 miles broken up into three separate runs. Each team member dedicated their runs to someone who was/is fighting cancer.
Our first relay was Hood to Coast. Historically, this race was a difficult one to get into as you need to either be an elite runner or be selected by a lottery system. To our team’s surprise and delight, we were selected in the lottery. After that first race, we’ve never looked back. We’ve participated in four full relays and two smaller ones since the team’s establishment in 2011. By having so much support from family, friends and community, we’ve been able to raise more than $23,000 for cancer research.
When the team gets together, we reminisce and treasure all the memories that we were fortunate enough to make. Some of these memories include our runners getting altitude sickness (mountain training in ND is hard!), heat exhaustion, dehydration, pulls, strains and sprains. The memories and stories of perseverance are admirable.
At a Relay for Life in Sargent County, my 9-year-old cousin rated the event a 9/10. When we asked what could have made it a 10/10, he said, “If all 900 of those people (represented by the luminaries) were still here today, they could have walked in the survivor lap.” Yes, that would certainly make it a 10/10 for everyone.
Career and family at Flint Group
It’s been a few years since we’ve done a relay due to injuries and the grandkids growing up. I’m hopeful that we grandkids will carry on the relay tradition again in the future to honor our grandparents. Even though my family’s races are on hold, cancer isn’t. With my job at Flint Group, it’s ignited me to work harder at how I/we can help the ACS amidst a pandemic. I’m thankful that Flint has allowed me the opportunity to talk about what means the most to me. Working for a business whose values align with my own makes my workplace feel like a home and my coworkers an extension of my family.