I think as I can say that every year we are just blown away by how people we know can make such an impact with inspiring speeches, and even this year a poem! I can only say that this year was one of those times where the presenters gave such an astounding amount of inspiration to all of us that it clearly shows that we are again relaying for a cure for cancer period.
The following speeches and a poem is a part of the history and legacy of our relay and I am pleased to bring them here for you.
I am sure you all are as excited as I am to get this Relay season on the road! We have traveled through last years A Journey of Promise and here we are to The Future is Now! Relay For Life reaches into our hearts and touches our emotions, it’s the spirit of coming together for one cause, the experience and bond we feel during Relay weekend is life changing. The essence of what Relay for Life is all about Remember, Fight back and Celebrate. Join me in viewing those 3 meaningful words from a different perspective.
Relay For Life is 30 years strong!
In 1985 one man Dr. Gordy Klatt had a vision and a hope. He stepped on the track and walked 24hrs, walked 83 miles to help fund The American Cancer Society. One mission, One day. One Vision Celebrating, Remembering and Fighting back. A vision of a world without cancer. Dr Klatt says that as he walked he planned and brainstormed how to build an event out of this concept. For 30 years his vision has spread across the world as Relay For Life. Over 4 million people and 20 different countries have been inspired by this one man. I wonder if it ever crossed Dr. Gordys mind the impact he would have on the world. I wonder if Dr. Grody ever visualized a virtual Relay? A virtual Relay that has raised close to 2.5 million dollars for cancer research and support. A virtual Relay with over 120 teams worldwide. Dr. Gordy Klatt sadly lost his own battle with cancer last year. But today we celebrate his life and the impact he has had on the fight against cancer. Because of him, Because of the ACS research. We celebrate the lives of those who have fought the battle and won. Their courage and spirit is what gives us healing and a passion to end this fight. We celebrate them.
Dr. Gordy, We are proud to say The Future is Now!
We remember those we have lost to this disease. They remain in the kingdom of our hearts, ever present, ever motivating us to make a difference in our future. We remember them and find strength in our SL community of Relayers.
As you look around at the Sims today you see the history of first Relay in SL. You see our theme logos over the past 10 years. Even in a virtual world there is progression. I for one am thankful there are no pictures of what avatars looked like back then. Even the build looks so primitive. Look how far we have come! We are proud of our past but we move forward. William Shakespeare said “The past is prologue” It is good to learn from our history. But it is time to put the past behind us. Someone told me that our logo looks like back to the future. I told him “Those are luminarias not a road and we are NOT going back to anything”. We move forward. This is a new season. Our second decade of Relaying in this virtual world. With moving forward comes changes. George Bernard Shaw said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.” My hope is that this Relay season we remember our roots our Why I Relays and Make a change because The Future is now!
We Fight Back!
Last fall Dawn and I were privileged to attend the National RFL summit in Dallas, Texas. One of the speakers that weekend was Grant Vosburg. A man in his 50s who met his future wife at a birthday party when they were 6 yrs. old. His wife was diagnosed with colon cancer and went through years of treatment. For those years he played the role of her caregiver. He said the last treatment she had he carried her to the car weighing only 107 lbs. Their journey was not finished yet. A few years had passed and Mr. Vosburg was diagnosed with colon cancer himself. It was now his turn to become the hero. He told us their story didn’t start when they met at age 6 yrs. old. It started before that. The American Cancer Society funded research for Dr Charles Hedidelberger in 1957. Dr Hedidelberger developed Fluorouracil 5FU, which became and remains a primary protocol drug for the treatment of colon cancer. So think about what that means. That means a husband and a wife’s lives were saved because of a treatment drug developed when they were 2 yrs. old. They would not need that drug until they were in their 50s.
Their grandmothers would go door to door fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Because of their passion to help find a cure for this disease they saved the lives of their grandchildren. The drug that they funded is still being used today to save lives.
You are the champions the heroes that fundraise to fund research and support through The American Cancer Society today. The Future is now. Because of your efforts we will save, have saved and are saving lives. Somewhere out there are children whose lives may never know what cancer is because of our ONE Team of RFL of SL. Dr Gordy Klatt and Dr Charles Heidleburger had a vision and a hope.
The Future is now! What we do this year 2015 in RFL of SL will impact research that will lead to a future cure. : What we do this year 2015 in RFL of SL will impact research that will lead to a future cure.
The Future is Now.
A poem entitled; Great Things*
Concerned for our family and friends,
We are immediately prepared to move.
We know by coming together.
We can help the world to improve.
When it comes to fighting cancer,
We are seeing it all so clear.
Our time to act is right now.
Our time to act is right here.
Deep down inside of our hearts,
Relentless hope resides.
We are ready to put it into action.
We are ready to take some strides.
Fighting against this evil disease,
That has become our new directive.
Freeing the world of all cancer,
That is our main objective.
We are here to build results,
Greater than anything ever measured,
Results where nobody faces cancer,
And every life can be treasured.
We are here to build a place,
Different than anyone has ever seen.
We are here to take important steps,
At Relay For Life 2015.
A path to finally ending cancer
Is what this new year brings.
We are here to make a difference.
We are here to do great things.
Then a speech by our ACS Staff Partner, Stingray 9798 (Sting) Raymaker
Each year, we take time to look back at where we’ve come from…and when I do look back to the beginning of Relay For Life of Second Life, I am always so impressed at how we have grown over the years. And as I think about my own personal Relay journey in Second Life, I am so inspired by what we’ve been able to accomplish together. Planning the season or the event is no easy task…and it takes a lot of work from a lot of people.
just look at the themes, the designs, we’ve moved from no mesh to mesh, the track has a life of its own, our avatars have improved.. our clothing.. well, not mine… everyone else’s clothing has improved…
Committing to be a team is a big decision…and actually running your team is an even bigger job. Everyone here today takes that responsibly seriously…and dedicates so much of their time…talents…and money…to this cause that is so important to all of us.
We know that as Relayers, we are investing in a future without a cancer problem. We know that the money we raise is being invested in successful research that continues to give us hope. Hope for our own future…and our children’s future…and so on. Because if we ever hear those words…”you have cancer.” If the next words out of that doctor’s mouth is: …”But we have options”….THAT WAS US.
Many of you know that I’ve spent the last year traveling and working with other events…an opportunity that was offered to me in large part because of the success we have had here in Second Life.
During this last year, I’ve learned to appreciate you all more…because we say it every year, but this time I have proof. I have not witnessed a Relay event where the Leadership Team, the Captains, the team members, Mega Event organizers, cancer survivors, media partners, and sponsors…are more committed, more proud, and more “ready to Relay” than here in Second Life.
We really have created a family here, and to be honest, I’m not sure how it happened. I don’t think there’s a magic formula…but I know there’s a magic ingredient. The right people. People with giant hearts who are always ready to give more of themselves in honor or in memory of loved ones…and who want to make sure that we continue to find ways to prevent cancer…to detect cancer earlier…and to treat it when we find it. And when you think about the money we’ve raised (just this week, we reached the $2.5 million mark). Last year, we raised $415,000 alone…that’s a research grant right there. We are funding our very own researcher!
And you know, we are always looking “forward” to the day when we have better options for treatment and better ways of detecting it…but keep our theme in mind this year. The Future is NOW.
Our efforts and the efforts of Relayers before us have helped the American Cancer Society provide ground breaking discoveries and scientific milestones in cancer research already. Things like bone marrow transplants – that was us! the Pap test – that was us! If you know anyone that takes Gleevac or Tamoxifen (or the generic brands now) – that was us!
Raise your hand if you have had or you know someone who has had a mammogram…that was us! And more evidence that the future is now – we have new and improved ways to screen for colon cancer…less “invasive” ways…if you will.
And cancers like colon cancer…and cervical cancer…have such a high survival rate if caught early that we have already made them “obsolete.” Obviously, there are still people who have to fight or have fought these two cancers with tragic results..and it is their battles that have inspired us to make these cancers as treatable as they are.
We are making so much progress in the fight against cancer, that we now have research grants that focus on quality of life for patients during and after treatment. Think about that….we have created a world where so many people survive cancer that in these cases, it’s not “if” you survive. It’s “when” you survive. We need to make sure that your battle isn’t “worse” than the disease itself.
When the American Cancer Society was founded 103 years ago, only 1 in 10 people would survive cancer. Today, 2 out of 3 people are surviving cancer. The people who started the American Cancer Society in 1912 dreamed of today when they thought of their future. The people who started our research program in 1946 dreamed of today when they thought of their future. Dr. Gordy Klatt, who started Relay For Life in 1985 dreamed of today when he thought of the future.
And my favorite thing about all this is – I don’t think ANY of those people thought that thousands of people would be logged in to a virtual world, raring up for their 11th Relay season…and that they would make up the 17th LARGEST Relay event in the world! WE are the future…and our impact is now!
At this point, I want to introduce a clip that we got someone who isn’t in Second Life. Every year, we listen to his music as part of our Rememberance Ceremony. We’ve tried to get him a couple of times to come to Relay to play live..but scheduling conflicts have prevented that. So, we figured the next best thing is to ask him to record a special message for us.
I’d tell you his story, but he does it better. Let’s listen to this special message from my fellow American Cancer Society colleague, my friend, a fellow ‘geek,’ a musician (he really is a Second Lifer – he just doesn’t know it yet). This is Tom Willner.
Hello everyone, my name is Tom Willner and im very excited to be part of RFL of SL 2015. I want to let you know how grateful i am. Its thanks to people like you that i’m alive and well today, a 15 year survivor. I’ve been a huge fan of RFL of SL for a long time and im amazed at your accomplishments. I’ve watched you grow, and crunched the numbers. You’ve raised a total of nearly 2.5 million dollars. What you raise leads to discoveries, such as the drug which ultimately saved my life.
It helps patients travel great distances and have a place to stay. It hasn’t always been this way. in the last century, i lost my grandmother and my father. but in this century, i survived, and my sister survived.
i know not everyone survives this terrible disease. But we are making progress. Cancer can become just a long chapter in the medical history books that my grandchildren will only read about.
you know what else wasnt possible last century? RFL of SL. thousands of people in a virtual world coming together. You are the future, and you are creating the future that will end this terrible disease. Thank you for having me and my music play a part in RFL of SL.
And then finally a keynote speech by Poppy Zabelin;
Thank you Random, Sting, and Relay committee – I’m truly honoured that you have invited me to speak today because I have something special to celebrate with you all.
Thirty-something years ago I was a young mother with a one-year-old son sitting in a doctors office when I heard those words “I’m sorry, you have cancer — AGAIN” – a recurrence of the thyroid cancer I’d had in my teens.
A few days later a colleague came back from a visit to a local research hospital and told me he had seen posters for a fund-raising event. His words gave me HOPE. The posters read “40% of cancers are curable… help us to cure the other 60%”.
He hugged me, and told me he was sure I was in that first 40% …
… and, I was. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified as each year passed until I reached the magic ten-year mark.
The American Cancer Society campaign to promote “more birthdays” has always spoken to me, and especially this year, because I will soon be celebrating a very special birthday. It is actually FIFTY years since I was first diagnosed, at the age of 15. I had surgery a few weeks before my 16th bithday and I can still remember waking up on my birthday and seeing the dress I had picked out with my mother. It had a low neck. The scar on my neck was still healing but I decided to face people and wore the dress anyway.
After three surgeries and radioactive iodine treatment my thyroid cancer is well under control, and has been for years, although I have some permanent side effects, I still have to take tablets every day to replace my missing thyroid, and I still have a check-up every six to twelve months. But during that time I’ve fitted in a busy career, travelled all over the world for my work, and borne and raised two children. In two months I will see my daughter get married.
Fifty years ago when I was first diagnosed the cure rate for thyroid cancer was only around 60%. There were no support groups in hospitals and the internet had not even been imagined. People didn’t talk about cancer, they were afraid to, so they talked about “something nasty” or “the big C”. A few months before I was diagnosed, my 16-year-old neighbour was diagnosed with lymphoma. She had her arm amputated but still died within six months – a few weeks before my 16th birthday. Today, there is a very great chance she would have lived, and perhaps she would have been able to fulfil her ambition, to become a model.
Thirty-odd years ago when I had a recurrence, some people would cross the street or avoid me in the company restaurant rather than talk to me. Many people were still afraid to talk about cancer. I sometimes felt like a leper, as if I was contageous. I was isolated, and, having such a rare cancer, I didn’t come across another thyroid cancer survivor for many years. There were still no support groups or internet and nowhere that patients could go for information except the big medical textbooks. And there was no Relay For Life.
Today, the cure rate for the most common type of thyroid cancer is over 95%.
Over the past fifty years I’ve seen the future rushing towards me: new targeted therapies to cure aggressive forms of thyroid and other cancers, and new approaches to reduce the side effects and long term consequences. And new surgical techniques, to minimise the scars.
I’ve seen the growth of the Relay For Life movement not only in the US but around the world. I relay in my home town in England.
I’ve seen the growth of information written in a language that patients and carers can understand, some of which I’ve been involved in writing and producing myself. I’ve seen the growth of support groups, the development of the ACS Cancer Support Network on line, and our support groups here, in Second Life. Support that I missed out on all those years ago.
We now have more birthdays and more happy endings thanks to events like the Relay For Life that raise money not only for research but also for education and support. But we still need to support those who hear those words “I’m sorry, you have cancer”. No one should have to walk this journey alone.
This year, the ACS predicts that despite the advances, there will still be over 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the US and over 500,000 people will die from cancer there. But the picture is very different from when I was diagnosed 50 years ago. Yes, the future IS here. We can reach out and touch it. So thank you fellow Relayers, you have made a difference to me and my fellow survivors. Keep on Relaying!
So there you have it, inspirations like no other. Speeches that gives hope to those who are still fighting or have won and for those who we relay in memory for. There will be more. More inspirations as we move forward to a grand finale at relay weekend in July and at the Wrapup Party in August.
An audio file that you can also listen to is available as well; https://archive.org/details/2015RelayForLifeOpening
Poem, Great Things by an anonymous relayer.
The Future is Now 2015! RFLofSL