Reflections on the Relay from Washington
It will be weeks before the jumble of emotions and memories within me finally settle down and sort themselves out such are my reactions to being a Community Ambassador from the state of Kansas to the first ever Relay for Life Celebration on the Hill in Washington, D.C. As one of 28 Ambassadors from Kansas, Judi O'Grady and myself along with Robyne Pippert and Taylour Tedder, who were guests, shared the experience of Celebration with 3,000 other Ambassadors from every state in the U.S. The event was organized and sponsored by the American Cancer Society to lobby our congressmen for four specific purposes:
To increase funds for research to find a cure for cancer.
To educate in order to prevent cancer and detect it early.
Advocacy to enact laws that help reach the goals of the American Cancer Society.
Service to everyone touched by cancer to help them make it through their journey (Relay for Life brochure-ACS 02).
While these are the goals, the ambassadors and guests were invited to Washington to put a human face to the disease of cancer and that is exactly what we did. Through three days of walking, talking and sharing stories, we exhausted ourselves bringing that message to our congressmen. After many letters and phone calls to them before the event, all of our legislators either met us at the Kansas tent or invited us to see them in their office on the Hill, upon hearing our individual stories of our survivors, especially those of the children who have been involved in our Relay for Life in Eudora the past six years. We took with us to Washington a rally sign with the faces and names of these children on it which was carried by us and various members of the Kansas group throughout the celebration. How could you not be moved when you look at these faces? I believe our message was heard when an aide for one of the representatives said, "You know he (the legislator) does lots of things each day that are not very important this is important."
And so to each of our legislators: Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Dennis Moore, Rep. Jim Ryun and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, we say "thank you" for listening and we hope you carry back with you to our nation's capitol the stories you heard during this Celebration on the Hill. We hope that whenever a piece of legislation is introduced that will further the goals of the American Cancer Society in eliminating cancer that you will look at the faces of the children and remember your promises to ensure that they have the opportunity to grow up.