In the past few days I have been quite busy. Invitations for Fashion for Life 2012 have been sent out and we have been seeing people register at a very fast pace. This is the second year I have co-led FFL; last year Delora Starbrook snatched it from death when Nevar Lobo suddenly resigned and Syngen Sohmers helped me keep it going. This year Syngen is co-leading with me again, I am so pleased (and relieved) to say. It’s very gratifying to feel that all the work Syngen and I do up front is worth it when we see so many registering and cheering us on. Our work is 100% volunteer—I get nothing and make nothing from this. Syngen doesn’t, none of our builders or staff members do—it ALL goes to ACS. And it’s a lot of work and time for us.
Let me explain my personal reasons for helping run Fashion for Life. First, I have come to realize that service is very important in my life. Doing Fashion for Life is how I give service to my community in SL. It’s a good cause—I have been touched by cancer—my grandmother had a brain tumor, my aunt died from a brain tumor, and I have two friends in SL—one of them very dear to me–currently being treated for cancer. I hear nowadays from each about the pain of their surgeries, the nausea and fatigue caused by their chemotherapy, and the financial trouble the illness is bringing to them.
I know some people have reservations about giving money to the American Cancer Society because the administration of the society as a whole has not received the very highest grades for use of donated funds from some websites. Some are concerned that monies are given in grants to studies that will help big pharma, etc. These are potentially viable concerns. (I say “potentially” because *I* personally feel pharma has enough damn money to do its own evil without involving the American Cancer Society.)
The truth is that the American Cancer Society is a very big and very diverse organization. If you read their mission statement, you will see their statement is very compact but encompasses a LOT of actual programs (and encompasses a very broad health concern—cancer). It’s a BIG organization. As they state, “Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has 12 chartered Divisions, more than 900 local offices nationwide, and a presence in more than 5,100 communities.” That’s a lot of employees, rent, paperwork, etc. And they spread their influence politically, financially, and educationally. If the ACS’s agenda of stopping cancer is not yours, then you shouldn’t donate. However, I can’t see how anyone could say they don’t want to stop cancer.
One of their main programs is the Relay for Life. Relay for Life is a grassroots effort that is organized in communities around the country wherein people get together, run together under the name of the American Cancer Society and also support each other and get more info about cancer. It’s really an ingenious program because while ACS is raising funds, they are doing a great service on the ground.
How is that? Many of the people involved in these fundraising efforts for Relay for Life have been personally touched by cancer—either as survivors or caretakers, friends or relatives. When they show up to do a Relay for Life event, they are touching a part of their own identities, a very personal experience they are sharing with the mass of people who are also participating. The effort behind Relay for Life is also a sort of big middle finger to cancer, saying they defy the pain and hurt it causes. When people show up, they provide community, support and vital information for each other.
This is the reason I support Relay for Life in Second Life. It’s not just about posting numbers—though I would like to see Fashion for Life smash our records. It’s also about supporting the members of our community in SL who have been touched by cancer—including me.