NOTE: This speech was given at the 15th and final Celebrate Life fun run/walk at Dog Beach, Sandpoint, Idaho. While Celebrate Life is not going anywhere, this was the last walk and in response I prepared an address to the crowd, which is written out below. I do want to thank my Aunt Julie and Grandma Carrie, as well as the countless supporters and volunteers to making this dream come true.
For those of you who don’t know, I went to Peru this year. When I did, I only brought a backpack. For a total of three weeks, I brought this backpack with me and nothing else.
As you can imagine, I had to prioritize. Bugspray. Sunscreen. Underwear. Toothbrush. Pants. However, the first thing I brought was not even the camera or my passport. It was my 2017 Celebrate Life shirt. Look around you. Everyone here is partaking in an event so meaningful that a teenager specifically brings their shirt around the globe to support its team, its people, and its cause.
It is life changing to lose a mother, regardless of your age. More broadly, it is hard to lose such an admirable and grand person to such a terrible disease. From my experience, cancer plays on your weaknesses, and withers even the strongest person to ruins at times. It removes your status as invincible. Cancer is ruthless. Cancer is heartless. Cancer is selfish. But cancer is not victorious.
It draws out the best of all those around you, creating a coalition of overwhelming support, whether it be hospital staff, loved ones, or the community. This support is a grandiose light in the darkness. This morning, you are taking part in just that.
Even if you don’t know who you are affecting, you are helping someone just by being here. Thank you for that. Thank you for these wonderful 15 years. Thank you for helping others. And to top it all off, thank you for making my mom’s dream come true.