Survivors' Lap, featuring my dad and my friend Benji.

Friday night I walked laps around a high school track with my family. My dad (a prostate cancer survivor), my husband, my sister, and my brother-in-law were part of Team Capital H in the Springfield-Burke Relay for Life. Among the five of us, we raised several hundred dollars for cancer research and treatment. Our team raised nearly $16,000. And the 75 teams participating on Friday raised a total of $140,000. That blows me away.

That is money that goes to help people whose health insurance maxes out while they’re in the middle of chemotherapy to save their lives. It goes toward free cancer screenings. It goes toward research into cancers both common and rare, which completely changes the odds for people who are diagnosed every day.

Amy Hanlein-Falcon, David Falcon, John Ariale (chair of the event), Kristy Keyer (co-captain of Capital H), and two other people

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort. Friday night I was in awe of my friend from high school, Amy Hanlein, who led Capital H in honor of her sister SaraH, who died several years ago. Amy clearly put in thousands of hours into planning, recruiting, and raising money. She’s going to chair the Springfield-Burke Relay next year and I know she’s up to the task. She was there Friday night walking around and taking care of business despite having recently sustained a serious knee injury.

Thank you to all of our donors. Your names were on a paper tree that Capital H displayed in front of our tents. Special thanks to those who gave at my invitation: Larry and Susan Rosen, Sabrina and Jason Kemp, J and Erin McCray, Barbara Beatty, Kristen and Jason Southern, Cyndy Rosso and Bill Word, the Swank Family, Lee and Jenny Rizzo, the Crews family, Cathy and Jeff Benjamin, Larry and Ann Hatcher, George and Phyllis Setzer, and Angela Meyers. Your generosity is appreciated. And the inspiring total dollar amount that the event raised demonstrates that every donation counts, and every person who helps makes a meaningful difference together.

Mostly what we did was walk around the track (along with hundreds of other folks) and catch up with old friends. We also listened to the story of a cancer survivor whose daughter is now facing a brain tumor. The work of the American Cancer Society helped save that mom’s life, and may save her daughter’s as well. We listened to a bagpiper play Amazing Grace and reflected on those we know who have struggled with cancer. Luminaria (bags with candles inside) lined the inside of the track, representing survivors and people we’ve lost. More luminaria dotted the stands on one side of the track, spelling out the word CURE.

Each team has several tents where participants can gather. Some teams do onsite fundraisers out of their tents.

I know I’m not really doing this all justice, and I wish I’d been able to stay the whole 12 hours instead of just a few. But arriving there Friday night after a long day and a long week I told my husband to remind me not to sign up for charity events anymore. He gave me a look. As we left, slightly damp but inspired, I had a feeling I’d be back again next year.

Thanks for your support, and for helping us make more birthdays possible.