A few months ago my friend Helen asked me to be a volunteer at a ‘Race for Life’ in aid of Cancer Research UK, which was to be held in
Wolverhampton. I readily agreed, then promptly forgot all about it. About a week ago an email arrived with the details and my heart sank. It’s a busy time at work with my reports, a parents evening, all of my transfer data to enter, two transition visits of new pupils to teach and preparations for a ‘hand over’ day of my science responsibilities to my successor – IN THE SAME WEEK!! All of this in addition to my normal teaching load.
I quickly learned that being busy is as nothing when compared to the real challenges in life, and death.
I am so glad that I was asked.
The TA’s at school are a good bunch and I was entertained by their banter on the journey from school. We arrived and were given T-shirts and allocated to the finish line where we were asked to distribute the medals, water and goodie bags to the participants at the end of the race.
Unfortunately a large number of the volunteers didn’t turn up on the night so we were asked to multi-task. Good job we were a bunch of women!
Joy volunteered to be a flag bearer. Helen, Judith, Dee, Di and Liza were selected to be a human shield. So when someone came back and said that they were short of course marshals Sally, Kathy and I were the only ones left.
They must have recognised something very special in me because I was given a radio and a Madonna style head microphone and precise instructions about how to use it!! For a scientist I am probably a gadgetphobe. Little did they know that in my day job I am used to shouting from one end of a school field to another without any such aids!
After a slight hiccup in map reading – I was roaming around the opposite end of the park searching for my marshalling position – I assumed my responsibilities as M7.
The whole race/walk was so uplifting to be a part of. There were about 3000 participants most dressed in pink costumes of one sort or another. Many were wearing the names and photographs of loved ones who are or have been affected by cancer. Some of the runners were suffering from cancer and many were nurses who work with cancer patients.
I was joined at my position by an elderly gentleman who told me that his wife is suffering from terminal cancer but was too ill to come to watch his daughters (one of whom is herself in remission) run. He was in tears as he told me about the effect the disease on their lives. He stood with me for over an hour and cheered.
The 'back marker' was a very brave lady who was walking with her nine year old daughter. Mum was a cancer sufferer, walked with a stick and a great deal of pain and difficulty. It took her over an hour to walk the first 2km lap and she really couldn’t manage any more but her daughter wanted to finish. She walked the final 3km with a
and was rewarded tremendous cheer as she crossed the finishing line. It was very emotional. marshal
The bravery, strength and sense of humour I witnessed from so many people was tremendous.
Next time I am asked to volunteer for such an event I will do so without hesitation, and might even be persuaded to take part.
Our local hospice has a fundraising midnight pyjama walk in September and Helen is determined to organise a large team of walkers.
Whether I’ll wear a pink tutu with my pyjamas remains to be seen…