As a kid growing up in an era of limited television viewing options (we had three channels, maybe four when the wind didn’t blow or there were no clouds), the few programs we watched left lasting impressions. One I keenly recall came on Sunday evenings. It was the Wonderful World of Disney.
It opened with a fairy flittering to the strains of the “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
The lyrics to the song, made famous by a talking cartoon cricket, go on to say: “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.”
Are we wishing upon a star for that cancer curing miracle? Sadly, wishing is not enough.
The 18th-annual Relay for Life of Barton County opens at 6 p.m. tonight with the usual pomp and circumstance as the Barton County Courthouse Square becomes dappled in purple. There will be music, food, entertainment and levity. There will also be tears, hugs, and moments of pain and loss remembered.
This event is where the wishes hit the road, so to speak.
Of the money ACS raises, 32 percent goes to research, 30 percent to patient services and 18 percent to prevention and early detection programs. Balance goes to expenses and management.
So, looking locally last year, about $100,000 of what the relay raised came back to help fight or prevent cancer in Barton County.
According to Jill Sittenauer, Topeka-based ACS regional communications director, in the year ending in August 2011, 171 Barton County residents received 289 services from the society. These include lodging, cosmetic help, travel expenses, camps, nutritional supplements, wigs and information.
However, she said, the needs never cease. An average of 180 Barton County residents are diagnosed with cancer each year.
A relay is an over-night event meant to symbolize a cancer patient’s journey from diagnosis to being cancer free. This marks the 27th anniversary of Relay for Life which started in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., and grew into a world-wide effort. This grass-roots movement is the ACS’s largest fund-raising venture.
The closing stanza of the song goes like this: “Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”
The American Cancer Society in 1946 triggered a landslide of small miracles that built and continue to build on each other. These usher in the opportunities for a new life for cancer victims. But, wishing upon a star is not enough. It takes all of us to make these miracles happen. Let’s continue the fight.
This wasn’t all brought on by wishing and dreaming. It took decades and millions of dollars.
Unfortunately, many view the relay as an event just for the teams taking part. That is definitely not the case, said Chairperson Shannon Wittig. “Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend,” she said.
Yes, she wants people to come and contribute to the myriad fundraisers. But, she also wants folks to come and experience the event and feel the energy generated.
Relays are very emotional. People laugh and people cry.
So, caution, miracles don’t always come with a bolt of lightning or a roar of trumpets. They happen all around us, often unannounced and unnoticed. With the coming of spring, the leaves turned green. Baby birds hatched. Butterflies emerged from cocoons. These are examples of those small miracles. Yet, as they build on each other, winter blends seamlessly into summer. New life arrives.
Someday, a cure may arrive also.
Dale Hogg is the managing editor of the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.