Youth involvement gaining popularity
Fort Wayne, Indiana (June 22, 2009) — For my generation, volunteering isn’t so much a choice as it is a responsibility. We believe that we can be agents of change if we lend more than our voices to the causes we passionately believe in.
My family hasn’t been touched by breast cancer directly, but I have watched the ravages of brain cancer claim the lives of two of my grandparents and it is my responsibility to do something rather than stand on the sidelines. My choice is the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.
I have been volunteering for theera Bradley Foundation for the past 14 years, starting when I was eight years old. My relationship with the Foundation began when my mom gave me the “privilege” of tying teeny pink satin ribbons around hundreds of tiny gold boxes of DeBrand™ chocolates and yellow Vera Bradley Hope Coin Purses at our dining room table. Having conquered the art of bow making, I was ready to move on to something more fun after 20 minutes. My mother quickly responded, “If all the volunteers give up after 20 minutes, we’ll never find a cure for breast cancer.” In that moment a light went on for me. I wasn’t just tying bows … I was fighting breast cancer! Each volunteer act I have been privileged to engage in since that time has felt the same to me regardless of the weight or scope of the task. I have been fighting cancer! Today, hundreds of young people are being drawn in to volunteer as our own mothers, grandmothers, aunts or friends’ moms are touched by breast cancer. We are being drawn in to volunteer as we follow the example being set by our parents and grandparents. We are being drawn in to volunteer as we become Facebook and Twitter fans of the Foundation, in an age where good news and information travels at light speed. And as we are drawn in, we are quickly making a difference in how fast the research can proceed.
During the 2008 Vera Bradley Classic Golf and Tennis Tournament,Vera Bradley’s great grandchildren recruited a group of their friends, set up an adorable lemonade stand and raised $755. Another young girl retrieved hundreds of lost golf balls from nearby golf course streams, sold them to golfers playing near her grandmother’s back yard, and presented a donation to the Foundation. The girls’ volleyball teams of the Mid-Central College Conference played a series of “Pink Out Night” games, in which the net proceeds benefited the Foundation. My friends Josh Zurawski and Chris Ray have been volunteering for the Vera Bradley Foundation for as many years as I have. Their moms recruited them many years ago, but the choice to be involved is now their own. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cassie McCoy started the Pink Pachyderm Society to raise funds for breast cancer research. “It feels good to know that I can do something to make a difference. My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. She is so proud of me. I went to the principal at my school and got permission to get the whole school involved,” she says. And in Columbus, Ohio, Alyssa Stegner is involved with Skate for Hope. “As a kid, it’s hard to feel like you’re making a difference, but we can with Skate for Hope,” she notes. Adds skater Laura Stegner: “We help others and have fun. It’s like working and playing at the same time!” Creatively and quietly, the list of young people who are choosing to be involved grows by the day. I will encourage my siblings and my friends to be a part of this cause, because in addition to the responsibility we have to bring hope and change for the future … I’ve had the time of my life.