Relay for Life: Saving Lives

by Maverick Grunfeld

The virtual world of Second Life (where people can interact through created characters called avatars) may seem to be a difficult place to express emotions that we share with other through our daily lives. However, even through the computer generated images, an electronic platform can deliver raw emotion and the ability for a person to make a difference. Relay for Life (RFL) from the American Cancer Society (ACS) has found a great home in Second Life. 

Since the Society’s Research Program began in 1946, the ACS has devoted about $3.4 billion to cancer research. By funding groundbreaking research, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has contributed to many important discoveries that have led to a better understanding of cancer and cancer treatment.

RFL new color logo

Fayandria Foley, the events chair for Relay within Second Life, shared why she joined the cause “I heard I had cancer, went to my car, and waited. I was going to kill myself; I couldn’t face cancer.” Relay, however changed Fay’s perspective. “I saw a Relay event at a High School across a street. At the time, I didn’t even know what it was.  Those Relayers grabbed me up and gave me the desire to love my life and to live it; with cancer, but it live it without fear.” Since that day, Fay has been involved highly with Relay for the last three years inside and outside of Second Life.

 

RFL Heroes

Various individuals form teams which raise funding through events in Second Life and through the ACS website. “We are right up there with the big boys” added Fay. Last year, RFL within Second Life raised approximately $211,000 USD. “We are about that size of a typical RFL city event volunteer wise with over 2000 volunteers in Second Life.” 

 

One of the 130 plus groups in Relay this year was the Justice League Unlimited. To date, the Justice League Unlimited team has raised $411,319 Lindens (Lindens are the Second Life currency, this value is equal to approximately $1,600 USD). Kalel Venkman, leader of the group, shared his thoughts about the amount of funds raised “We had originally set ourselves a fundraising goal of 75,000 Lindens (about $285 USD in real world currency). We were amazed and humbled at the tremendous outpouring of support and the donations from the superhero community here in Second Life.”

Party for RFL
The group, like many in Relay worked to establish numerous events ranging from dances with DJ’s, live musical performers, to specialized contests. The goal for teams is simple, raise as much funds as possible while having fun. Kara Timtam, a co-founder of the JLU, stated “Relay For Life’s in-world campaign has certainly made Second Life members feel empowered to change the world for the better.  The lives we save may be our own.  Almost certainly; our group includes cancer patients and caregivers.  Second Life is a way for patients and caregivers to feel less isolated.” 

 

RFL provides team mentors serve to help support and guide the teams. Prettykitty Gumbo, a RFL Team Mentor, stated “Justice League has proven to be a wonderfully valuable team, as they have helped other groups with fundraising.  They’ve held joint events with other groups in order to assist them with their efforts. I can always count on the Superheroes to come to the rescue!”

 

RFL party 2

Kalel summarized with “The JLU was founded to help people. If the Justice League Unlimited can help save lives by raising money for cancer research here in Second Life, then I think we’re on the right path.” 

 

The Justice League is just one of many teams. This year roughly 130  teams joined RFL within Second Life, each with a story to tell about their goals and why they decided to Relay. Fay, who has experienced Relay both inside and outside of Second Life described the impact of the event in SL as being greater than a person may assume. “It is more  emotional and has a stronger impact. You are home in your comfort zone and you are Relaying.; walking the track, seeing others there with you, hearing the songs, and reading the memories. There is nothing to pull you off of the experience.” Since a person can focus more, she describes it as “Very intense mind to mind connecting with people at a moment of raw emotions.”

 

RFL Hawk Girl

For Fay personally, she has remained in a “wait and see” mode with her cancer for the last four years. “Relay  gives you strength and when teams  like the JLU  put so much energy into supporting and helping  how can one not want to live? We would not have Relay without the teams; they are the heartbeat of RFL and are the ones who touch so many lives.”  Through RFL, the teams help advance the cause, “It is about awareness on how to fight cancer; teams are helping to spread that. For me, Relay is about touching people’s lives.” 

 

Relay for Life represents hope. As RFL continues to impact lives, Fay summarized the power and impact of RFL, “Every person here has the same hope, to find a cure. Cancer hurts. At Relay, we fight that pain with a direct frontal attack! We save lives from the money we raise and the support we give. From the laughter and the tears, we show people with cancer that others fight with them and there is life after cancer touches you. Relay has so much to give; it is a huge celebration of life being lived.”

Partick Party

With ten days left for Relay for Life in Second Life, the group is $25,000 USD away from their goal of $250,000. To donate to Relay for Life through the Justice League team, visit: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/jlu

Trek RFL Party

RFL in Second Life Website: events.cancer.org/SecondLife

The Daily Planet SL: http://scifi.radio