June 5, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
In May of 1985, when Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington to raise money to help the American Cancer Society, he could not have known the lasting impact his actions would have on cancer research. Despite this, while he trekked those 83.6 miles and raised $27,000, he envisioned the next steps. In the spring of 1986, he organized 19 teams who participated in the first ever Relay for Life and raised $33,000.
Today, the Relay for Life is an annual event whose volunteers and organizers span thousands of communities and 27 countries. Mindsight joined our community’s 2018 Relay for Life of Joliet at the ATI Field on Saturday, June 2, 2018 to affirm our commitment to the global goal of understanding and overcoming cancer.
The Mindsight team exceeded our goal of raising $5,000, reaching a total of $5,348.19. As such, we were awarded Gold Club member status, which is given to any team that raises more than $5,000. As a community, the 2018 Relay for Life of Joliet raised almost $171,000!
“I am grateful we reached our goal and to everyone who donated to our mission,” says Justine Kope, the Digital Marketing Manager, Relay Organizer, and Relay for Life Team Captain for Mindsight. We not only reached our own goal, but of the 61 participating teams, Mindsight was ranked number 12 in fundraising.
Emotional Celebration Of Life, Hope, Survival, And Family
The event started with caregiver Jennifer Maltas, a long-time Relay for Life participant, sharing how the passing of her mother to breast cancer influenced her life. In 2012, Maltas was awarded the IAMMA Outstanding Service Award and the ILCMA Special Service award for her and her family’s contributions to the American Cancer Society, for which they have raised a quarter of a million dollars. Maltas spoke of the many ways cancer has impacted herself and her loved ones, reminding all present of the personal way in which cancer has infiltrated our community.
Personal stories gave way to a shared community of support, as the 2018 Relay for Life of Joliet participants walked laps around the ATI Field, chatted with teams composed of survivors, caregivers, and friends alike, ate hot dogs and cookies from local vendors, and listened to the bluesy tones of The Whiskeys. At 12:30 pm, survivors took their first lap around the field, celebrated by cheering crowds of family and friends. Those same survivors then recognized the kindness of caregivers, whose selfless love is a sustaining force during the battle with cancer
“Walking as. a survivor – the sense of support and understanding – and knowing what that truly meant is emotional,” said Kope of her experience walking during the survivor lap.
Community Donations: Raffles, Bicycles, And More
One of the ways teams raise money is through the generous donations of local businesses and community organizations. Mindsight’s sponsors provided numerous raffle donations, which brought in almost $900 on the event day alone.
Kozy Cyclery of Chicago donated the incredible Momentum iNeed Street bicycle – which was an eye-catcher at the event – and many restaurants generously donated gift cards: Redstone American Grill ($50), The Capital Grille ($50+appetizer), WhirlyBall ($50), Joe’s Bar Joliet ($50), and DMK Restaurants ($25). In addition, Mindsight’s CEO and President Ed Kapelinski donated accommodations in Naples, Florida as a raffle prize for Mindsight employees who purchased raffle tickets.
The array of gift baskets and raffle prizes crowding team tables at the ATI Field served as a reminder that the community had come together to support loved ones in the fight against cancer. Kope noted the emotional resonance of being a part of such a powerful community event, where everyone was engaged in the shared goal of raising money to support research and care. “It was such a great experience,” she said. “Everyone was so friendly. The community really came together to support this common goal.”
Lighting The Way Together
Once the sun had set, event organizers and team members worked together to line the ATI Field track with little white bags – each a dedication, a remembrance, a tribute, and an honor to those lost and those still fighting. Each bag held a glowstick, which when lit provided a glimmering reflection of the impact of cancer on our shared community. The Luminaria Ceremony is the somber, respectful reflection of the nature of the Relay for Life. Event participants walked in silence behind bagpipers, pausing to recognize loved ones who had passed from cancer and those still battling today.
“It’s a huge track and to see all of those bags lining the circumference of the track, seeing each bag and the dedications and recognitions, to see just in our community how many people were and are affected was emotional,” Kope said, reflecting on the ceremony.
Watch a video of the Luminaria Ceremony below.
Closing Ceremony For 2018 Relay For Life Of Joliet
Before the participants could gather for the closing remarks and a tally of total fundraising efforts, prairie rains stormed over the field. Event organizers and team members rushed to their tents to rescue what they could from the rain. Although it wasn’t ideal, the rain’s arrival meant the closure was extended, providing additional opportunity for reflection and hope.
Justine Kope, Mindsight’s Relay for Life Organizer and Digital Marketing Manager, reflected on her participation, and the community around cancer research, treatment, and recovery.
“I’m grateful to everyone who donated to our mission. Almost everybody has been affected in some way or another, whether it’s themselves, or family members, or friends, or a friend of a family member. It’s just a horrible disease. Ultimately, the goal is to continue to fund research that makes it so cancer is no longer an issue in the future. We also want to help people who are currently suffering. The costs are things you might not even think about – transportation to appointments – for example. Healthcare in this country can be a challenge. We want to fund cancer treatment and recovery so it isn’t a burden for the people who have to go through it because they are already dealing with so much.”
Even though the 2018 Relay for Life of Joliet has come to a close, you can still donate and provide support to those impacted by the battle against cancer.
Visit our 2018 Relay For Life of Joliet fundraising page at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/mindsight to make a donation today.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.