Statistics say that there is a greater percentage of people afraid of public speaking than of dying. Wonder how the percentages would shift if the audience was an assembly of high school students. As okay as I am in front of a crowd, the thought of this gave me a little scare. I’m armed in a comedy club, in high schools now days you have to check your verbal weapons at the door.
Part of what i’ve been doing in my efforts with Coast To Coast Against Cancer is taking part in the assemblies where we present The Inside Ride to high schools. It’s an indoor cycling event that high school kids are embracing more than we had ever expected. Thus the need for more of us to go into the combat zone of grown-up vs. teenager. Luckily for me that line is so blurred that I embrace the opportunity. Gives me a chance to wear low pants and bedazzle my iPhone.
The presentation consists of some background on the foundation, the event itself, the fundraising initiatives for that school, some statistics on childhood cancer and it’s after effects and then usually a video to help explain this even more effectively. A video we use often is warmly named “The Marisa Video” because it features one of our ambassadors that the cross Canada riders fatefully met up with in Winnipeg. Thing about fate is, it doesn’t have a shelf life. This meeting proved to be a fateful one for me as well even though I wasn’t in Winnipeg.
Marisa had been fighting Cancer for nine years already and she was just high school age. High school was a weird time for me and I could relate to her words very much. She had a very simple plan. She wanted to have a regular job and have a family. I wanted a regular job out of my small town so I didn’t have to have a family. Also, very simple plan.
In all the stories you hear about battling cancer, the events you read about, fundraising efforts in the paper and all the ribbons…Marisa’s quiet message in all the noise was the loudest to me. She just wanted a life. And something in the way she said that made me want to help try and give it to her.
She has since lost hers. She was stoically aware that her prognosis wasn’t good and she was right.
My motivation here isn’t to yank on anyone’s heart strings although that is inevitable. It’s like putting cake in front of someones face and saying that you’re not trying to make them hungry. My motivation here is to make a declaration that this little girl lives on and is remembered, even by those that didn’t know her. Every time I tell her story it moves kids to stop talking, put down their phones and to understand the importance of what cancer does to kids. They stop listening and start hearing. Kids that hear, understand and are activated change the world. I see Marisa’s legacy as being one that motivated her peers to act.
Last year The Inside Ride raised $1.2 million and that much so far this year for childrens cancer charities.