Shelby Fabian

            Since my freshman year of college, I participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program hosted on my campus every spring. After several years of observing my participation, my mother joined a different Relay for Life team with several classmates from her high school. This fall, her Relay team hosted an event to raise money for its members, and I assisted in the preparation and execution of their event.

            We hosted a women’s clothing swap, where we provided women’s clothing, shoes, accessories and outerwear that was donated to us as items that could be purchased for a very affordable price. We held our event in a small firehouse, where we had so many items that we consumed their entire social hall and even their two-truck engine bay for us to display our items. In addition to having clothes for purchase, we also held a 50-50 raffle and a basket raffle with various items available to win. Between all three of these intertwined events, we managed to raise over $1,100 for the American Cancer Society.

            Fundraisers for events pertaining to cancer are personal for me because my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer my freshman year of college. Although it was detected extremely early and she is ultimately healthy now, it was not an easy journey. Over the course of a year and a half, she endured eight surgeries, with one alone being over thirteen hours long. She was out of work for an extended period and was mentally affected by the toll such surgeries take on a person. Thankfully, all of these surgeries allowed her to live and return to a new “normal” where she can thrive and enjoy the life provided to her by amazing surgeons and research that originated thanks to the American Cancer Society. This fundraiser for my mother’s Relay team meant more to me than raising money for an organization. It meant being able to donate money to an organization that could provide support for a college student, just as I am, who is enduring a much worse situation with their family than I did. Although my mother’s cancer was very real, it was nowhere near as extreme as some stories of other survivors I heard. Being able to raise this money while benefitting women by allowing them to shop for an affordable wardrobe rewarded me more than I originally imagined it would. Not only was this a cancer fundraiser, but it was also a women’s fundraiser, both of which are important to me because of not only my mother, but myself as well.

            Outside of the cancer portion of my involvement, I also met a woman at the fundraiser who was more appreciative of the event than anyone else I spoke to that day. She had just recently underwent weight loss surgery and could not afford to continually purchase new clothes as her body readjusted to the operation and she continued to lose weight. Coincidentally, she discovered the event thanks to an advertisement I posted in a public Facebook group. She thanked me repeatedly and I could not have felt more successful for providing this woman with an opportunity to feel better about herself and allow her to accomplish a tedious goal in an affordable manner. Holding this fundraiser changed my perspective on many things and I look forward to being able to arrange a second clothing swap for the next fall.

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