There are many aspects of Sampson’s Relay for Life that are special. There’s the Survivors Walk, which brings tears and cheers, usually at the same time; there’s the luminary lighting ceremony that always causes pause as we reflect on those we’ve lost to the disease and those who are bravely fighting through it; and there’s camaraderie shared from tent to tent, person to person as we show the world we truly are in this war against cancer together.
And then there’s the now annual Kids Walk, the miniature version of the Relay event that allows our youngsters to get a first-hand opportunity to hold their own walk of community service.
In its ninth year, the Kids Walk offers children, up to grade 8, the opportunity to participate in their own Relay activities before the annual cancer walk comes to a close. This year, the Kids Walk will be held from 6 until 9 p.m. on Friday, as part of slight changed activities for 2014.
Set up to closely resemble the massive main event, the Kids Walk offers youngsters an opportunity to take their own turn around a track set up just for them, much as the adults do from the moment Relay opens on Friday night until it closes.
There are games and assorted other activities, all designed to mimic the main event, giving children the sense that they, too, can play a major role in Sampson’s Relay.
And they can.
One of the best things about the Kids Walk is the opportunity it affords to teach children the importance of getting involved, helping one’s community and serving as a beacon of hope for someone else.
They see it as they take part in the larger Relay for Life events that begin on Friday night, but they really experience it as they join their peers and do their part to make the annual cancer fundraising bigger and better each and every year.
Children aren’t immune to the heartbreak and life-changing adjustments that come with a cancer diagnosis. In fact, they are often some of its victims, either because they’ve been stricken with the disease, themselves, or have loved ones they lost to the disease or are watching fight it right now.
They need their own outlet, and they need their own avenue of making a difference. The Kids Walk offers both.
What’s more, it lightens the heart even more to see so many youngsters doing their part in the fight against cancer.
This year’s Kids Walk theme is Looney for a Cure. And like in past years, the walk — and the fact that they are active participants — gives our youngest citizens the feeling that they are someone’s hero, working their own brand of magic in the fight that continues year after year.
We thank those who coordinate and oversee the Kids Walk each year as well as the parents who allow their children to take part. By doing so, they are allowing our young people to get involved in something vitally important to us all, something that can only make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.