by Gabrielle Pe
Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach, VA
Chuck Palahnuik once stated, “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” And with that, a single quote came to embody my entire experience. After my mom passed in July 2011, I had a deep conversation with myself in the shower. I concluded that my mom’s journey was tough on me, but hers had to have been even harder. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to work as hard as possible in getting my community involved to spread word, donate, and host events so that people wouldn’t have to experience hardships that come along with cancer. By erasing the hardships, amazing memories can flourish to become those things that will live forever.
For me, going through this process acted as a healing aid. As I began to understand all of the different ways that I could help the cause, pieces inside of me began to fix and grow stronger. Sharing this therapy with my community brought everyone closer together. Regardless of if they had any personal connection to cancer, the aura of happiness, cooperation, and pure enjoyment proved to be contagious. It wasn’t too long until people that I didn’t even know started coming up to me and offering to help with any ideas that I would come up with over the next two years. My high school’s 2012 Dig Pink event really brought everything together. Motivation lurked in the eyes of all my team mates and we set our goal high and achieved even higher. Pink became our unifying color and encompassed our community.
Life lessons coupled with my experience flawlessly. I learned new and innovative ways of communication and organization. I even learned new craft ideas that could be applicable to many other projects. After all of that, I consider two things to be the most important. The first is the fact that people all have different stories. One has absolutely no idea what one has been through just by simply looking at them. From realizing this, I learned to listen with a better ear and understand what I am told. Most of the time, it makes a really great conversation. The second important thing is that I loved the entire process of being an ambassador. The planning, organizing, leading, and even painting definitely made the final event extra special. From completing my experience, I now know that I can actually do it and I will gladly do it again.
As I continue my life into college, I will definitely put forth tremendous effort into giving back to my new community. I will fight for any cause that is worth fighting for. And I will have an awesome time doing so. I plan on bringing the Side-Out Foundation to my campus where I have new sets of eyes, ears, and hands to extend the support to their own communities wherever they may be. Chuck Palahnuik’s quote is simple; yet, it urges one to do better not only for themselves, but for others and what they believe in. I saw my opportunities I received as a Side-Out Ambassador as something worth fighting for and I know that the event that was started will now and forever be a tradition that will live forever and grow to become bigger and bigger.