September 27, 2010
Good grief! What a Sunday! The Lord’s Day… a day for worship, for fellowship, for community, for putting others before yourself. Thirty kids at Bethlehem United Methodist Church did just that on Sunday. They raised $2,400 for Team Tanner by baking and pounding the pavement, Light the Night style.
We arrived at church on Sunday morning in time to set up Tanner’s lemonade stand across from the kids’ bake sale and sold after early service and before late service. In a couple of hours, together, we made more than $1,000, thanks to the generosity of our congregation, people who have already shown us immeasurable kindness.
Then, Sunday night, we went back for the kids’ Light the Night Walk. They started in the gym and ended up outside running and walking around the parking lot. Preschoolers through 5th graders… kids who asked their classmates at school to bring in their change for Tanner… kids who went door to door in their neighborhood, sharing Tanner’s story and asking for help. At the end of the walk, they took their money, which they had folded up in bandannas and carried with them, and dumped it happily, one by one, into a green box. Tanner and I watched in disbelief as it piled up… $1,200 worth, collected by children just to help a friend.
It was a triumphant night. One in which kids dealt a blow to the type of cancer that makes up ¼ of all childhood cancers. Imagine if we were able to find a real cure for leukemia? One quarter of all childhood cancer would disappear in one fell swoop. So fitting that kids should play a role in that. I was so proud of them and so humbled by their enthusiasm and dedication to helping their friend.
But, the night wasn’t over. John took Jake home to go to bed, but Tanner and I headed to Rally Mania, the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research concert at the Factory in Franklin. Along with Tanner’s friend, Madelyn, and two other little girls, Tanner was a Rally Rock N’ Roll Princess. After dancing and singing for an hour or so, they brought the girls up on stage, each escorted by a teenage boy who was also a cancer survivor. As the crowd cheered and clapped, they presented the girls with pink guitars, signed by all the artists who participated in the concert, including Eddie Money, Kix Brooks, Ashley Cleveland and Jars of Clay. Tanner was beyond surprised and has been “writing” songs on it all afternoon today. We danced and sang until the very end and Eddie Money brought Tanner and another Rally Princess up on stage with him. Then he kissed Tanner’s hand and called her an “Angel.” We had so much fun and she felt so special.
On the way out of the concert, carrying the pink guitar in a big cardboard box, I told Tanner I thought she was a pretty lucky girl. It sounded odd as it came out of my mouth, considering what she has been through and still has on her plate, but it felt right anyway. I told her that her having leukemia had given us the ability to see the fullness of peoples’ kindness, their wonderful way of reaching out to help when we needed it most. She agreed and said, “I think a lot of people love me.”
So, now Team Tanner stands at $14,600… a number I never dreamed to reach.