Monday, September 17, 2007

Lighting the night…

We wanted to find a way to honor Megan’s memory. Megan died about a year ago after many years of illness, stemming from leukemia. What better way, we thought, than to volunteer for “Light the Night” at the Anaheim Stadium (or whatever they’re calling it this week) on Saturday.

So, there we were, at 2:45, under a warm, autumnal sun that said nothing to me more than, “Honestly, Ken, you could be napping.” But we’d signed up months ago. We couldn’t back out now! We had signed up for the t-shirt booth, giving out t-shirts. Seriously, how hard could it be?

Well, it was pretty hard just to find someone… who knew… anything! First, we languished at the “Volunteer booth”, feeling like so many migrant workers hoping someone would come around to pick us up. We were provided with “Volunteer” t-shirts, which we ended up putting on over our clothes, which would have been a stupid decision if the day grew excessively hot; thankfully, it didn’t. Vicky saw the t-shirt booth and suggested we go straight over there but… I… “I don’t know, Vic.” She told me to live a little and, seriously admonished, we went.

Nobody knew what was going on there, either. The thing that’s so interesting about volunteering is just how little anyone knows – and, yet, things still seem to work! I went up to the woman who appeared to be in charge. She was standing in a huge trailer filled with boxes and said, “You signed up for t-shirts? Well, stay here by all means! I need someone to help me with these boxes; could either of you help me?”

I tried to imagine Vicky lugging freight and, a second later, I climbed up to help.

Basically, here’s how it worked. Several people manned the booth, which they did a wonderful job setting up to look like a little designer t-shirt store. Meanwhile, I stood up in the trailer and handed down boxes of t-shirts as they needed them. I was the stock guy. And that’s how the day worked. Once the DJ started playing tunes, I had little else to do but dance up in the trailer, which is another way of saying I made an ass of myself. Every so often, people would come by with drinks and food and drinks – this wasn’t work.

One other note about volunteering: it’s not for the young. One thing Vicky and I noticed was how flaky the younger volunteers were. Seriously, this is not ageism. All of our young volunteers took off long before the event even started. I saw them later; they’d gone around to the other booths and had picked up bags full of shwag meant for the people who had raised money – the jerks. On top of that, the young people who had run the balloon booth just adjacent to us, had made an incredible mess and had just left it without cleaning up! Vicky and some of our other people went to clean it as I was cleaning the trailer.

We were there for about eight hours. I don’t know how many others participated but, between the volunteers and the participants in the Light the Night Walk, the stadium’s parking lot looked about full. From my viewpoint, it was amazing how many people filled the area.

Leave it to Vicky to remind me that we hadn’t done enough. After all, it’s one thing to volunteer for something that benefits leukemia and lymphoma research and another thing to raise money for it. Between the two of us, we began to form the germ of an idea of a strategy of a plan. When next year’s Light the Night Walk comes around, maybe we’ll put ourselves together a “Team Megan” and see what we can do to raise a little money.

After all, we have the “Volunteer” shirt. Now, we need one of the participant’s shirts.

So, we’ll see how that goes. (After all, we may have a wee one by then.)

One last note. The Opening Ceremonies of the event consisted of one speaker after another. Each speaker told about how they or their child had survived leukemia and I couldn’t help grow bitter over the whole thing. I just wanted to slap the microphone out of their hands. Why them and not Megan? But that was why we were there, to honor Megan’s memory by helping more people survive what had eventually killed her. If she was around, she would have told me to stop making such a big deal of it. Just like her.

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