The way I saw it, when I was growing up, “volunteering” and giving back was not voluntary. In high school, we were required to do 20 hours of community service each year as part of our curriculum. You could help out at food pantries, assist at animal shelters, participate in charity walks…there were plenty of options. I always chose the Walk for Hunger, a 20-mile walk through the gorgeous suburbs of Boston, finishing at Boston Common, where you were greeted with massages and ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s has never been so satisfying.
A flip switched in my brain in college, when I did Relay for Life.
A group of friends and I trekked across campus to the Carrier Dome, where Relay is held on the turf where the football team fights for victory on Saturdays in the fall. Everyone there was fighting for a much more meaningful cause. Sleeping bags, blankets and pillows are sprinkled amongst tents, board games and snacks. The festivities go through the night, but you have no idea because time is disguised in the florescent lights. Hardly anyone sleeps, because everyone’s either giggling, walking, or sharing stories.
There is an aura of fun coursing through the concrete stadium construction. A drag show, raffles, contests, bake sales to raise money. But at the heart of it all is a chilling 30 minutes or so, when the glow of the overhead lights is darkened. The only thing illuminating a building that seats about 48,000 people, is a few hundred “candles” in paper bags, each one representing a life. Taken by cancer, taken too soon. Moving music plays. Hands are held. Tears are gently wiped away. Strangers embrace, smile, remember.
At four in the morning, I am completely buzzed in the best way possible. This wonderful cause has brought us all together to celebrate, reflect, and hope the Relay contributes to a cure. My friends and I are playing catch on the turf of the stadium where we routinely lose our voices cheering for those who play here on a much more regular basis. One of those “is this real life” moments.
Now that I’ve finished college and gotten to a great place professionally, I love mentoring new employees, answering questions and setting an example. I was in their exact same shoes less than two years ago, and still remember who I shadowed cutting highlights before I started on my own. Although I learned the most by actually doing the work, they set me on the right path.
That being said…do you have any questions for me about ESPN? Want to know how to get here? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Down the road, I’d love to volunteer at an animal shelter. Being without a dog is getting harder by the day, and I’m starting to realize I need more puppehs in my life.
This post was inspired by a prompt from Doniree Walker. Want to be inspired, too? Click here to for more details. Note: I’m an affiliate of Doniree’s, because I think she’s fantastic. I wouldn’t vouch for something that I didn’t think would help you, too