Wow!!! It is impossible to know how or where to begin to describe what just happened this weekend. Our thoughts and emotions are all over the place which makes it hard to put our experience into words, not to mention the tears in our eyes make it hard to see the keyboard and screen. But, we will give it our best shot!
We participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” in Carlsbad this weekend. Back in early May, Our Faith and Works family decided to participate in the event in support of Travis and his battle with cancer. Keith and Beth were our team leaders and they really did an excellent job in coordinating all of the information and logistics for our team. We went out on Friday evening to set up our campsite on the field in the middle of the track at Valley Middle School. We saw so many familiar faces either from School at El Camino Creek/Oak Crest or from the YMCA Adventure Guides where we were part of the Falcon Nation-Running Fox Tribe or from Soccer at Carlsbad Wave or from Church at St. Elizabeth Seton. There was so much positive energy and words of encouragement, the boys wanted to go ahead and stay Friday night even though the event did not start until Saturday morning. But, we reluctantly went home to get some rest knowing that we were in for a long 24 hour period. We arrived on Saturday morning around 7:30am and set up the rest of our campsite and everyone was working to prepare the tables for the bake sale. All of our families prepared dozens of cookies, brownies or healthy snacks to sell while Keith and Beth prepared for strawberry shortcakes to be sold. Travis hand sowed 3-D Cancer Ribbons and Tyler made Duct Tape Wallets to sell. We had the whole spectrum and also ran a Bean Bag Toss game to help raise funds.
The overall event began with an Opening Ceremony where we were told that we would Laugh, Cry, Hug and form bonds that would last forever. Then we went into the relay portion of the event which began with a Survivor’s Lap where Travis and the other Cancer Survivors walked a lap while everyone else lined the track and cheered them on. Very powerful! About halfway through their lap, the survivors were joined by their family for the Caregivers Lap. One of Travis’ Neurosurgeons, Jaysen Sack, and his family came out and joined us for that part of the ceremony too which was very cool. Then we were off and walking. There were games, bake sales, tons of cool items for sale, a DJ with music, live bands, great food and just a total celebration to help raise money to fight cancer. We had many friends come throughout the day to walk and support Travis. The evening came and after dark, it was time for the Luminaria Ceremony and Remembrance Lap. We decorated bags and lined the track in remembrance of or in support of anyone who has had to fight the battle against cancer. We heard very emotional stories from people about their experiences or about their loved one and then set out to walk a quiet lap together remembering our loved ones. What a very moving experience! Throughout the night, we continued our laps and had various people walking. At around 11:30pm, we finally got Travis in his sleeping bag in the tent. He was so exhausted and his legs hurt so bad that Tony had to carry him up to the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed. He is a Warrior! Tyler ended up walking up until midnight and the Selinka family went to bed. Tony and Tyler were up a little before 5am to walk the 5-6am shift and then reveille was about 7am to get everyone going again. We had the Closing Ceremony where all the teams were recognized for their contributions. Our Faith and Works team was awarded the “Most Spirited Relay Team” and was recognized as one of several teams who had someone on the track continuously for the entire 24 hour relay. Travis was invited to receive our awards and to be recognized as such an inspiration. Then we ended the entire event with the Fight Back Lap. They even asked our team to be out in front to walk the final lap with Travis leading the entire group. Very emotional and hard to keep a dry eye! The entire event was very empowering to help us to continue to fight back against cancer.
All in all, there were 29 teams and more than 300 participants. The event raised over $75,600 for the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research with our Faith and Works team raising over $1700. Travis walked over 9 miles with everyone supporting him at one time or another. Tyler walked over 13 miles in between working as a Salesman at our team’s Bake Sale. Tony and Lynne walked at least that much as well with various friends and in between worrying if Travis could finish the lap he was on. We had some people from our team walk around 30 miles (go Yousko family!). And there was a team of 6-7 Marines (team Avengers) who all walked 35+ miles in their super hero costumes with one of them, Jay, who walked 50 miles. Wow! Travis the Warrior connected with Jay the Marine early on Saturday and Jay promised to give Travis his Nerf Bow and Arrow set at the end of the relay. In turn, Travis and Tyler gave Jay, Lauren and the rest of the Marines one of their handmade Cancer Ribbons and handmade Duct Tape Wallets. Pretty cool!
We want to thank our Faith and Works family for being there for us in so many ways, especially this weekend! Everyone was so committed to this event from baking goods to sell, to manning the Bake Sale, to Walking the track continuously, to sharing a smile, to sharing your love and to sharing your words of encouragement with all of us. You all truly Walk the Walk and we are so blessed to have you in our lives!
Our Faith and Works Family:
Keith, Beth and Jennie Castiglione
Phil and Suzy Lampe (and Nick and Ben too, even though they were on their retreat this weekend)
Phil, Tracey, Brooke, Blake, Michelle and Sean Spangenberg
Rich, Sundi, Spenser and Jensen Yousko
We also want to thank all of our special friends, or should we say “Extended Family,” who came out to support us throughout the weekend:
Bob and Jane Tetzlaff (honorary F&W members for the weekend and Bethlehem family)
Jessie and Esther Stocking (honorary F&W members for the weekend)
Dr. Jaysen Sack, Shilow and Angelina (one of Travis’ Neurosurgeons)
Shannon, Spenser, Reed and Collyn Garman (Bethlehem family)
Dominick, Kayley, Jaido and Jenny Diaz (soccer family)
Brian Gomez (soccer family)
KC, Kelsey, Michael and Jennifer Swyney (soccer family)
Christopher, Stephanie, Lori and Andy Gorzynski (soccer and church family)
Martine, Tiernan, Olivia Hussey (extended family)
Jodi Johnson, Jaycee Johnson, Courtney Drummond, Lauren Miszklevitz (soccer family)
Finally, we want to thank Dave Mills, Jodi and Keith Mann, the entire Relay for Life Committee and the American Cancer Society for putting on such a wonderful and life changing event. We walked! We laughed! We walked! We cried! We walked! We hugged! We walked! We ate! We walked! We slept (a little)! We walked some more! We had so much fun and we made or strengthened friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime! Needless to say, we are hooked!
It is hard to come across anyone who has not had cancer touch them in some way. Why Do We Walk? We walk for “Travis the Warrior” and so many others like him who have had to battle this terrible disease. So, we will: Celebrate! Remember! Fight Back!
We know words cannot express enough but Thank You all from the bottom of our hearts!
Tony, Lynne, Tyler and Travis