Visiting Relay for Life

Katie and Robbie were always introducing us to new worlds. When it was recommended Kate be stimulated through participation in the Odyssey of the Mind competition, we entered that fascinating, challenging and enlightening competition for several years. Soon after, we got involved in the Fairfield Teen Theater program and then there was fencing. All good and happy experiences.

When Robbie was a high school senior he first mentioned Relay for Life, the fundraiser for cancer research. Of course, we let him participate and do some good in the world. Two years later, during his last time out of the hospital, he and his friends formed a team and raised funds, walking through the night. We attended, walking proudly with him, him in his survivor’s sash and us in accompanying caregiver sashes. The applause that greeted all who walked that opening lap was deeply emotional.

The following year, there was team in his memory and we briefly visited, lighting a luminary candle and participating in that lighting ceremony but it was too emotional and we didn’t linger long.

We skipped the events in 2010 and 2011 but this year, with the passage of time, it didn’t hurt as much to think about being there. There was no team for him but that didn’t stop us from being a part of it, donating cash here and there. It was a terrific opportunity to see friends and neighbors on a beautiful, warm early summer evening. Many of our elected officials were on hand, which was nice to see. We walked a bit with former First Selectman Ken Flatto, State Rep Kim Fawcett, and Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey while chatting with State Rep Brenda Kupchick, First Selectman Mike Tetreau, and even Senator Richard Blumenthal. We all remarked how this brought out the best in Fairfield.

I was reminded all over again how amazing it is to see the kids this energized about something. They did it for the social aspects as well as the Doing Good factor; especially if a team was dedicated to someone they knew dealing with cancer. There were two honorary chairmen, one being Mark Fattaroli, Fairfield Warde’s theatrical director, who was battling his leukemia just two floors above Robbie. Mark had a tough road, but has been in good health these last two years and it was terrific to see him so happy. We listened to his remarks and then went over to chat. He admitted he was caught up in the moment skipping through portions of the script and wanted us to know he had written something about Robbie but missed it. We were fine with that. He was remembered.

It was gratifying to see the bench donated in his memory being used to rest weary walkers. It’s been long enough now, that no one in the school knew him so his name becomes one of history.

Being there was pleasant experience. Being a part of the cancer world is something we cannot erase, not with so many in our extended family having suffered from the insidious disease, and while we’re not embracing it, we’re accepting we can support those who are still in the fight, donating to make the fight easier, and remembering those who never gave up but lost the battle.

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