This weekend was the fifth annual Kids Race Against Cancer. My oldest daughter, Haley, founded the race five years ago, at the ripe old age of eight, to fulfill a service requirement for a church youth program. I had just run my first 5K, and she knew that the funds raised for that race went to charity. So, when her booklet suggested to “plan and complete your own activity to serve others,” she immediately announced, “I’m gonna plan a race for kids to raise money for cancer research!”
My husband and I (who knew full well who would have to get the ball rolling with that idea) gave her lots of other, simpler suggestions: You could do your sister’s chores! You could take some cookies to a neighbor! You could send a card to your grandparents! But no amount of exclamation points would sway her. And, five years later, we’re still doing it. But, thankfully, she’s leading the planning and organizing now. I’m mostly just the driver. And I buy stuff.
This year, our family lost two friends to cancer–Nathan Colgrove, a husband and father of five who had fought pancreatic cancer for three years; and Cody Hernandez, who was almost 14 and didn’t even realize he had lymphoma until he was rushed to the hospital, where he died just a few days later. The race was held in their memory, and all donations are going to charities of the families’ choice. Cody’s family chose The Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Nathan’s family decided to share the donations between Pancan.org and American Refugee Committee (ARC) “for those in greater need than us,” as Nathan’s wife, Lori, said.
This was by far the highest attendance for the race. Generally, friends from the neighborhood have come, with about 15 kids or so running. This year, there were over forty kids and nearly as many adults. Almost $600 was raised so far, with a number of people sending Haley additional donations this week. Now, I used to work in fundraising for a living, so I know that might not seem like much money to some of you, but for a 12-year-old girl to raise $600 in one day, that is nothing short of AMAZING.
In addition to Haley’s friends, the larger community was also incredibly supportive. There were a number of teachers who had brought their children to run, and two of our local “princesses” even volunteered to help out–they cheered on the runners and held the finish line ribbon! I am so grateful to live in such a close-knit, supportive area, with people who teach their children the importance of helping others.
What about you? How do you teach your kids about serving others? Big or small, there are so many things we can do every day to teach kids values. We just need to be open to them when they come our way.