More than 200 people showed up to bowl, browse the Silent Auction, hug each other (and me) and screech, “I’m sooooooo happy to see you!”
It’s amazing to me how many perfect days God has blessed me with since my diagnosis. It would seem an oxymoron — Perfect Days and Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Yet, somehow, that’s exactly what’s happening. It must be way fun to be God sometimes (though I don’t envy Him his job), and be able to pull off the miraculous — especially when people least expect it.
Friday night around 6 p.m., Don, Theo, and I walked into the bowling alley and it was nonstop laughter and bowling, pizza and stories of old times and new until we rolled out of there a little after 10 p.m. I was so busy being social I only bowled two frames! Imagine! (Grin.)
The turnout was simply astounding. Cheryl Mato Buck, who grew up next-door to me on Greythorne Trail, was there with her hubby, Dave. So was Lisa Inman from just around the corner on Westmeath. I hadn’t seen Lisa in years, though we’d been in touch on Facebook — where I tease her mercilessly for being the one who chewed the toes off our Barbie dolls growing up! My former high school marching band drum major and classmate, Scott Orwig, was there with his wife, Sarah, and their four adorable little ones. (If there’d been a football field nearby, surely he would have made me run laps.)
Cindy Kahle had the great idea of coordinating a Group Photo. Then Sheldon, one of the employees at Super Bowl, grabbed the baton and arranged for all of us to gather on Lanes 43 and 44 when the last person finished the last frame at 9:00. Kristi Rugh Kahl had a wide-angle lens. And the rest, as they say, is history. I LOVE that photo and will treasure it!
People came from near and far. Carlton Wright drove in from Grand Rapids, and when I thanked him, shrugged and said, “No biggie. I wanted to be here.” I also caught him helping with take-down at the end of the night, collapsing tables and folding up the tableclothes we’d used for the Silent Auction. Big heart.
Speaking of big hearts, they were not in short supply. More than once, someone who won the bid on a Silent Auction item paid for the item — then told Kristi to “keep the change” — often in the neighborhood of tens of dollars, more than once, overpaying for an item by $50. What do you say to such generosity? What can you say, besides thank you?
Friday’s Bowling Benefit and Silent Auction raised more money than I could ever have imagined it would when Kristi Rugh Kahl told me several weeks ago that she was entertaining the idea. Kristi, along with Jodi Wolford Krueger, Michelle Wolford Ball, Trish Baden MacDonald, and Amy Pankas Allen, were the forces behind the logistics of the night, from reserving the lanes at the Super Bowl to getting the word out there, tracking down items for the Silent Auction, setting up, taking down, keeping everything organized and running smoothly. Thank you, ladies. The auction may have been silent, but my gratitude is not.
So many people gave so much of their time, their energy, themselves. Carrie Ramsay handmade some of the most beautiful jewelry I’ve ever seen. Rumor has it she spent more than a week intensely focused on getting the earrings, bracelets, and necklaces made for the event. She also presented me with a special one made just for me — white Swarvorski crystals on Sterling Silver with a beautiful silver breast cancer ribbon dangling from the end. Carrie chose those specific crystals for their healing power.
My cousin Mary Dougherty hand-crocheted a beautiful, breast-cancer themed blanket with a hot pink stripe. Kristi’s parents, Sheri and Richard Torch — who have been a second set of parents to me since I was a teenager — created a beautiful coffee-themed basket with handmade towels and got it to us all the way from northern Georgia. They’ve both been wearing my neon yellow bracelets faithfully since the moment they received them in the mail. And the list goes on…
People who know me gave, but so did people who don’t. Some were friends of friends, my sister’s neighbors, Jodi’s boss. Janet from Miche Bags donated some of the night’s hottest items. Checks came in from people who live out of state and others who could not attend. It was just an outpouring of love that has deeply touched me, Don, and Theo. As Theo often says to me, “Mommy, my heart is overflowing with love and I’m giving it to you.” We definitely felt the overflow.
A few weeks ago, Kristi set up a designated account for the Amy Rauch Neilson Benefit. All of the proceeds from Friday night were deposited into that account and, bright and early this morning, I picked a medical bill out of the pile — one that had really been bothering me in its unpaid status — and Kristi took care of it with a phone check from the account. One down. What a relief.
Thank you, everyone.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson