Inspirational story of
by Jana Rosenblatt
High school students are expected
to get good grades and jump through hoops to build a resume of
extra-curricular activities and community service in order to stand
out amongst the competition for colleges and jobs. This is the
inspirational story of two such
standout teens - Megan Reeves and Courtney Witherspoon.
Last year, as a junior, Megan
Reeves was searching the Internet for a volunteer opportunity she
could relate to. As the daughter of a cancer survivor, she clicked
on the American Cancer Society
site. She found a link on the homepage titled: More
Ways to Help; which led her to Karen Rubinstein, a staff member
at her local ACS office.
With the 2003 Relay for Life event
coming up Karen enticed Megan to become active, "I embraced
this because it [cancer] has touched my life. It [cancer] seemed so
foreign to me, until I heard my mom had it. Then the world came
crashing down on us".
The Relay For Life events
"celebrate survivorship and raise money for the fight against
cancer." They are run all over the country through local ACS
offices and they inspire awesome participation from community
members. As a survivor myself, I was invited to participate. After
the opening ceremony with speakers and acknowledgements, the
"survivors" walk the first lap of the relay to cheers of
love and support from the crowd. From that point on for the next 24
hours, one member of each of the 20 or so participating teams would
be walking the track.
A standard team ranges from 10 to
15 participants. They name themselves after people like "Team Irene"
or themes like the "Robotics team," who created crazy
vehicles for the event. They wear funny costumes or simply come as
they are with good friends and good intentions. Megan explains that
"to form a team you have to fundraise, it doesn't have to come
from your own pocket." Registration is $150 per team, with a
goal of $100 per team member, but many teams raise much more. This
year "Team Irene" raised approximately $28,000 in honor of
a loved one. The total for the entire event is reported to be
For this year's event, Megan and
her friend Courtney, whose grandfather had colon cancer, were the
Team Recruitment Chairpersons. "We were responsible for signing
up and organizing the relay teams. It was especially challenging
because there is so much competition for limited fundraising
dollars." I imagine it is also hard to get people to give up 24
hours, walk in a circle all-night and camp out on the inside track!
"It's symbolic, cancer survivors don't get a break so [for 24
hours] neither do we."
Their team consisted of seven high
school friends. "Honestly, I was really worried about [raising]
the money." Says Courtney, "but today when we came
together, we are really having fun. " They didn't have a fancy
name or a funny theme or fancy tents. They were there, as Megan
says, to "raise the money and get the word out."
Both of the chicks graduated from
High School this year and, in the fall, Courtney is headed for Film
School at Loyola Marymount and Megan will attend Occidental College
for a degree in Biochemistry with the long-term goal of Med School.
You Go GIRLS!
here for more event pictures