A feeling of pride came over me as I flowed among the slow-moving crowd of purple t-shirts. On the back of each one was written, “Survivor,” and I was one of them. Each person in the sea of hope, who walked around the school’s track, held their own story of downfall, battle, and victory. As I completed the Relay for Life’s Survivor Lap, I found my heart pouring out gratitude to God, to Dr. Dan, to anyone and anything on Earth. Seeing the other people walking beside me, I could tell they all felt the same exact way. We had all been there, and our immediate kinship created a powerful, yet silent, feeling among us. It was also amazing to witness those generous, selfless people who weren’t survivors, but who gave their time because of a family or friend’s life touched by cancer, or just a concern for the cause. Two of those caring people were my Gramma and Poppy. Honestly, I wished I could hug each and every one of them… those who donated their money, or their efforts, tucked themselves into the pockets of my heart. They were my inspirations, my heroes.
One of these people was a man named Zac, who works for Jamba Juice. A booth was set up, and he and another woman, Jamie, were selling smoothies, with all of the proceeds going straight to the American Cancer Society. My mom and I walked around the track and, suddenly, a giant, yellow… something, came up behind us. It was a banana– a man in a banana suit with a tray of smoothies in his arms. Zac smiled and waved to us, dancing to the music that blared over the PA system.
“Hey! Banana Man,” I yelled, as I too began to get jiggy.
He noticed my Survivor shirt, and we got to talking. His enthusiasm was contagious.
“Hey,” he called back to me, as our conversation ended, “come by the booth later, and I’ll get you a smoothie on me!”
Wow, what a cool guy, I thought. He was out there, giving up his day, selling his smoothies, and wearing a banana suit. But what really got me, was his joy, his spark, and his sincere smile. He danced, made people laugh, and created a fun and loving atmosphere around him– all things he really didn’t have to do.
Mom took a picture of me, Zac, and Jamie. We blew it up, framed it, and later gave it to them with cards, and of course… home baked banana bread. So now, every time I walk into Jamba Juice in Arroyo Grande, I look up at our picture on the wall and say hi to my friends, Jamie and Banana Man.