Thursday, September 20, 2018

Lads And Lassies Go Global For Cancer Research In Scotland

by pennylane986 (writer), San Francisco, December 14, 2008


Team One World, One Cure of Pacifica, CA, goes global with a rock band in tow to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK with the beautiful people of Glasgow, Scotland.

As rain came down and dark skies dampened spirits at Cancer Research UK’s first Relay for Life event at the Donald Dewar Centre in West Glasgow, Scotland- out of a bus came the Pacifica Relay for Life team One World, One Cure, with bright purple American Cancer Society jackets and hats that read “Cancer Warrior.”

To celebrate life and fight for a cure in our lifetime in such conditions truly is the definition of a Cancer Warrior, and One World, One Cure made lasting friendships and had moving, life changing experiences throughout their travels. Team leaders Mary Ellen Forrest and Valerie Jeffries, local Pacifica women who have been actively involved in the local event for many years, introduced themselves and spoke to event organizers as local band, The Rockaways, took to the stage.

The stage was more like a single dry patch of concrete under a rooftop. Such is the climate during a Scottish summer. Band members Patrick Rogan, Laura Howell, John Fitzpatrick, Timothy Lowery, Rich Motylewski, Tim Johnson and Mike Baca took on the challenge of bringing spirits up in a rather dismal atmosphere. A Pacifica Relay is full of people, flair, energy and character- but in Scotland few could be seen walking on the track with such spirit around their campsites due to the cold, wet, nearly depressing- conditions.

The makeshift stage area was set, and the band began to play. Heads started popping out of tents and women on one team could be seen line dancing to Shania Twain in the grass. Couples, families and friends adorned in wet weather gear gathered near the band and danced away- and even youth at the event showed their enthusiasm and spirit by dancing and spinning each other around. So quickly had the event turned from disheartening to a true celebration of life, rain coming down and all.

The commonly known luminaria ceremony at American Cancer Society events, titled “Candles of Hope” in the UK, is similar to here in the states. Candles are placed in decorated bags around the grass in memory of, with hope and thoughts for or in celebration of a survivor of cancer. Their bags for the ceremony could be purchased for five pounds each, or around ten USD.

The Rockaways played a moving cover song by well-known musician Josh Groban, featuring the vocals of Pacifica local Fitzpatrick, titled “To Where You Are” as well as a song written and produced by the band’s own Rich Motylewski, a song that truly captures the spirit of bringing two countries together for a global cause.

Everyone participating in the event fell silent to remember and reflect, as the lyrics carried across the field and over to nearby residential areas- “live your life, like running a race, take one step, at a time, don’t be distracted, by what you see- keep your eyes on that finish line.”

Cancer is a global scourge and music is a universal language. Even if a song is not recognizable or well known in another part of the world, people still embrace the new experience and bob their heads, tap their feet or even attempt to sing along. The Relay event was a rousing success. Chilled to the bone, yet satisfied with a job well done, the band and team members gathered on the bus, where Forrest told of an individual at the event that was moved and said that the group had lifted them up and gave them the strength to go on.

It gave the team the drive to recharge at the hotel and get up in the morning to do it all over again, this round in the center of the big city- at Cancer Research UK’s event in George Square, Glasgow. Surrounded by majestic European architecture, stunning hotels, double decker city tour buses, the Central Train station and the pillars and peaks of the City Chambers building, was an event managed by Grace Sherlock, a local woman the group got to know throughout the trip.

Sherlock was a kind and dedicated woman, and the team got to celebrate life with her not only at the event, but over American fare at the hotel and on a bus tour of Scotland’s green, majestic Highlands- a series of Lochs [lakes] and mountains that can make anyone feel so small.

George Square’s event was blanketed with wet and dreary weather, or as the Scots call it , “atmospheric.” This fundraising walk was a success, with locals and families dancing and walking around the square, as the Rockaways played and joined together with a local singer and performed selections by the Beatles that the crowd enjoyed.

Tommy Tomlinson, an elderly gentleman, was passing by in the square and was captivated by the music. He shared to a band member that he found the Cancer Research UK event to be some kind of miracle.  He felt called to come check out the activity on the square, for his wife had passed two weeks previous from the disease.

The team shared another local Pacifica Relay tradition – the garland of cranes.  Each year a garland of paper cranes is presented at the Pacifica Relay to an individual whose cancer situation calls for a special message of hope and love.  The woman to whom the Pacifica team presented these cranes, and her son, were overwhelmed with the sentiment, as were the participants of the event.  The woman who received the cranes spoke with Jeffries and Forrest and told them she would hang them from the ceiling of her “granny flat” and send pictures to them.

It is connections made and stories like these that show the need for the world to work together- and plans are in development to make Glasgow, Scotland a sister city to Pacifica. Sherlock plans to attend the Pacifica Relay For Life next summer, and the next generation team of Cancer Research UK will be joining their new friends in Pacifica for travels of the Bay Area in September.

Visit One World, One Cure's website at

About the Writer

pennylane986 is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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