When I heard the diagnosis, I felt pretty useless. I like to be able to fix things, and this was just something that I could not fix. I had thought about it for a few days, and I decided that it was likely that everyone was feeling about as useless as me, and that there was a way to give people the chance to feel like they were contributing somehow. So I offered to captain a team for the Light the Night walk - where we could raise funds, and more importantly, meet as a big family and show Kristen in a palpable way that we are thinking of her and supporting her.
Our initial goals were pretty lofty (at least I thought so). I had initially hoped that the Penney family and my family would walk with a couple of friends. My uncle thought that we could raise $2K, which I thought was possible, but I didn't consider it entirely probable. However, the community really stepped up, and after the paper checks are counted, we'll have raised OVER $10,000!!! We had a total of 62 people make donations, and 52 people actually signed up to walk with us. It was pretty amazing to get that kind of response. In fact, we were recognized by the National Team Coordinator for our efforts! THANK YOU to everyone donated, or participated!!
The organization has been pretty difficult, especially considering the way people receive incentives by both donations and fundraising efforts. However, I've already sent out half the thank you cards (the hardest part) and I will be sending out the remainder THIS WEEK! Of course I have no pictures of the team as they gathered before the event, or of the team picture we took (I was too busy running around giving out t-shirts, checking off balloons, handing out water, etc) but I have some before shots that we took in the lull before people arrived. The one above is of my brother and I (I swear he is not a militant terrorist, he's just lazy, does not like to shave, and for some reason his beard is just patchy) underneath our pop up tent (we were graced with lovely three digit weather as we prepped for this walk).
This are my stevedore-sherpas, my dad and my bro at Tempe Town lake, both sweating their butts off after carrying tables, tents, cases of water, boxes of t-shirts, ice, and backpacks from the parking lot at Tempe Center for the Arts to our spot in the park. No, somehow I didn't wind up doing any of the heavy lifting. I had the clipboard and was checking activities off!
This is Dad posing with about half of our balloons. You can see that they each had sticks attached to them. There were lights inside of the balloons, with the wire from the light acting as your string, and you would hold on to the stick, which had a switch for the light itself. One of my father's many non-commercial talents is his ability to create and untangle knots. We had 46 balloons (6 popped on the way from the park to our tent) somehow with their wires in a hopeless tangle at about 5:30. By 6pm, he had untangled them all, confirmed that the lights worked, and prepped them for our walkers. Go Dad!
Once we had actually begun the walk along Tempe Town Lake, I realized that I had forgotten to take any pictures with MY camera before the walk. So I tried to take this one of all the balloons stretched out ahead of us on the walk. All of the red squiggles are balloons. However, I never remember that you have to be really still to take night shots, so this is how it came out. I still like it :)
It was incredibly successful, and I'm pretty sure that we'll be doing it again next year!