We are close to our first birthday and that is very exciting to me. I am thinking about that because this time last year I posted a lot of “stuff” about the Pink Ribbon Classic on social media and got such good feedback that I began to believe HOPEspot could launch.
Tonight, I return to you with Pink Ribbon giddiness. And if you are a non-local follower, please don’t go away: my Pink Ribbon experience “transcends”.
Let me be brief in catching everyone up. The Pink Ribbon Classic is the nation’s largest women’s golf tournament and it happens to raise A LOT of money for the American Cancer Society (specifics to follow). In addition to a day of golf, the Pink Ribbon offers a kick ass kick off party with silent and live auction AND it provides an incredible opening ceremony that sets the tone for sponsors and players alike.
Now, let me offer full disclosure for those late to the story. My mom, Pat Lane, is the “grand poo-bah” of the Pink Ribbon Classic. She chairs the Executive Committee and every dollar in and out is under her nose. As a cancer survivor, wife of survivor, and parent of two survivors, her passion is unmatched. It takes tremendous effort to pull all the pieces together to make the Pink Ribbon Classic the success that it is. She would, rightfully, credit her committee, and then she would shun all attention away from her. And I will. After I mention that the Pink Ribbon Classic of 2015 was enormously successful and raised $183,500. I just gotta say that this year raised $265, 500!! Pat Lane will not take credit for that sum, but Pat Lane was part of every dollar raised. I’m crazy proud of her and she knows it.
This blog, however, tonight’s message, is about something much more universal. HOPE, friends - it is about HOPE! I have to describe the event and how special it is, but I promise, there is a larger message.
More than any other charity/ fundraising event I’ve been a part of, the Pink Ribbon Classic makes sure that it never strays off the point of WHY we are here raising all this money. With annual honorees, some of whom are presently engaged in a battle with breast cancer, there is a spotlighted opportunity for these women to tell their stories of fear, hope, battle and courage, to the audience at large. The honorees message is the annual anchor to the event, punctuated the WHY for all of the effort.
The opening ceremony is something all together extraordinarily special and I will never be able to describe it in words. I will try: a large sum of women, most of whom have had some up close experience with breast cancer arrive and register. Ladies dressed in pink, excited for a fun day, happy about their player gifts. But after registration, the “show” starts. The chair woman (Ok, my Mom) offers a greeting and thanks for all participants. After proper acknowledgements, she turns the ceremony to the mistress of ceremonies.
Here is where is gets big. Participants are invited to take a pink balloon in honor of those fighting the battle with cancer. One by one, women and men sheepishly and then boldly come to take pink balloons- in their minds they are saying: I am praying for you, my friend-- or You are bigger than cancer,brother… Before long, it is equally heartbreaking and heart lifting to see the ENTIRE group of participants with pink balloons in their hands.
Cancer is indiscriminate. The evil is everywhere.
After a pause, with a bagpiper playing in the background, the group is invited to release their balloons: launch the prayers for wellness, send the good thoughts into the universe.
Send Cancer away. That’s what we wish with the pink balloons. Good- bye.
The next step is the genius of the Pink Ribbon Classic and it is honest heart breaking reality. Participants are invited to take a white balloon, honoring a loved one who has lost his or her battle with cancer.
Lost. The word doesn’t feel like it has a place in this day.
So the group goes back and takes white balloons and with each balloon comes a complimentary heart dagger, because as the bag piper continues to play, the loss represented by the white balloon becomes new all over again.
It is gut wrenching. Most participants, ready for a fun day and dressed in pink, cry. As the bag piper continues to play, more tears are shed.Cancer. Loss. Defeat. Sad.
I HOPE you are still with me because here is where the HOPE comes in the story. This isn’t a news report, it is a HOPE homily.
The moment after the white balloons are launched, the HOPE miracle occurs. Into this population of sponsors and players, survivors and caregivers, the spirit of survivorship blows through like the Holy Grail in an Indiana Jones movie.
Every person there, after the white balloon launch, is emboldened, initiated and inspired into the battle against cancer. Each white balloon launcher, sending a piece of her heart with that balloon, doesn’t want to launch another white balloon - ever again.
And then there was one more part. A professional athlete, shared his feelings about his wife’s battle with breast cancer. If you were there, or if you weren’t, what this gentleman showed so eloquently is that cancer is an indiscriminate and hideous equalizer. His observable fear, on behalf of his beloved wife, was only matched by his undeniable gratitude for the support they have received.
Look, HOPEspotters, it all comes down to this, and let me be perfectly clear about it: from the beginning of my blog, I wanted to share the stories of battle of cancer and terminally ill people, mixed with my own experience, and, God willing, blend in some HOPE in the message. To that end, the Pink Ribbon Classic is the absolute best story I can tell. I don’t get to participate every day in an event that launches pink balloons for those in battle and white ones for those who have lost. But to be clear, the Pink Ribbons balloons live in my heart every day and I encourage you to launch your own mental balloons.
Fight. Survive. Remember. Battle. HOPE.