Saturday was the 2010 Western Washington Relay for Life Summit. I didn't quite know what to expect, as I had never attended a Summit before, and up until I got to the "Relay Rookie" breakfast I didn't realize that we're the birthplace of Relay for Life and we have one of the largest Summit's in the nation.
The Summit was held at the Double Tree in SeaTac which was really convenient for me, as it's only a few miles from my house.
I walked in the doors of the Double Tree and took a deep breath, I was about to walk into a Summit, and I had no idea where the rest of my team was, and I knew no one. I got breakfast and then took my seat in the breakfast area, and ate with a couple girls. I finished my coffee and headed over to the "Relay Rookie" introduction session, and learned how HUGE this Summit was. There were over 600 people signed up to be at the event that morning, and over 100 volunteers helping put the Summit on. Wow, okay, so the hall that I just ate breakfast in holding merely 70 people wasn't where we'd be all day? Weird.
This is JD, his passion for Relay was infectious. He has more passion to Relay than I do for Halloween, imagine that type of intensity! He spoke to us about Relay and got us all excited to head to the "Opening session". We walked out the doors and there were over 50 volunteers with BOOM sticks (which are obnoxiously loud) cheering and making a TON of noise! They were welcoming all the "rookies" to our first Western WA Summit!
I was a deer in the headlights, there was so much noise, so much excitement, so much passion, all squeezed into a little hallway. I was so overwhelmed - but happy to be there!
I ran into my Relay Committee members that I was there to learn with, and I was so thankful to see a familiar face! Kim, Nick, Bruce, Natalie, Maria & Mariah were all there and we headed to the "Grand Ballroom" to start our general session.
When I walked into the general session, there was another familiar face that I recognized from the Internet world. Shelley Sprouffske. Shelly's a pretty big deal in the Relay world, and She's been an inspiration to me to get involved with Relay since day one.
See this POST About Shelley.
Needless to say I was SO HAPPY to be able to meet her face to face, and she gave me such a big warm welcoming hug. It feels so good to be supported, the love of a perfect stranger through Relay is a beautiful thing. If you're reading this, Thank you Shelley!
Amongst the other RELAY GOODIES and swag on our tables awaiting us there was a box of kleenex, it was needed. I never expected the emotional roller coaster that this Summit put me on. I was sad, happy, excited, angry, motivated, passionate and exhausted. They showed videos and told stories of Survivors, and there were tears shed. We had a bit of a time trying to get INTO our kleenex box, and since everyone at our table was in tears, we tore open the box to distribute the kleenex faster!
After general session we took off to our breakout sessions where I learned "how to FIGHT BACK" from Jeff Ross, and set my fundraising goal this year for $1,000. I can do it... (with your help of course).
Then we went back to the Grand Ballroom for the Lunch portion of the day, which was probably my favorite part.
After we all ate, the survivors were invited to the stage to be honored, as all survivors should be. They were told how wonderful they are, for who they are and for what they've fought, and Jeff talked about how we're all here to fight for them, that's our purpose, and he's right.
They pinned each other and then Jeff asked the Caregivers in the audience to stand up, and the survivors came out with pins to give to us for being caregivers. A woman approached me, pinned me and told me thank you, and then hugged me. There wasn't a dry eye in the ballroom, I'm sure of it.We then took off to our last break out session of the day where we learned about RECOGNITION, which is HUGELY important, and then we had a short time with our Committee to evaluate last year's relay and plan to do better things this year! Then, back to the grand ball room, for more emotion and awards. I didn't get a picture of Mariah, Maria or Bruce, they had to take off, but here's Kim, Nick, Natalie and I!
I'm so excited for our committee this year, we're going to have a blast!
I cant' wait!
Relay is something I can be passionate about, and the Summit lit us all on FIRE!
So, I plan to...
In a small way.