After two days filled with inspiration in Washington D.C., a third followed. CurefestDC 2014 began at 9 am on Sunday, September 21st on the National Mall. My decision not to brave the “waters” of the dreaded metro by myself on this morning proved to be a good one. I gobbled some breakfast in a taxi on the way and arrived with a full belly and a happy heart.
Festive is the word I would use to describe my first impression. My second impression was thankfulness for all the people who came, all the people who worked to create the event, and all the volunteers who donated their time to put this enormous event together.
The setting for CurefestDC on the National Mall made everything that was there and everything that happened a notch or two more epic. Backdrops of the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument have a way of doing that. I understand there were more than 75 foundations present under the white pop-ups lining the mall.
This was a day for the kids. I loved seeing kids scurrying around collecting as many wristbands as they possibly could. They hugged each other, sat on each other’s laps, walked, danced, and some even spoke. Survivors and siblings were honored and received special gifts.
One of the most fun and heart-warming times of this day was a butterfly release. Families were given boxes to open and free the butterflies inside. The look of wonder, awe, and joy on the kids’ faces was alone worth the trip to D.C. Before opening the boxes, Ellyn Miller told the crowd, “These butterflies are for all of our kids.” With that, they gave their boxes a kiss, then opened them up to reveal the life within.
Abby Miller sang the National Anthem while Delaney Clements held our nation’s flag. The walk began…
The camaraderie present was something so strong that it seemed possible to physically touch it. The gorgeous somber and reflective tone of the night before at the White House transformed into a tone of courage, love and purpose– even joy.
Dancers danced in honor and in memory of children fighting cancer. Here, dancers hug Delaney Clements after their performance.
Joel Waldman, from Fox 5 NY, received an award of recognition and thanks for his outstanding work to bring awareness to childhood cancer.
Gabriella Miller’s mom, Ellyn and Erin Griffin’s mom, Amanda, had their heads shaved at the event to bring more awareness to childhood cancer.
Billy Sherwood, crazy-cute and courageous survivor, helping at his mom’s booth for Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation.
I remember– I will never forget– how much Melinda hurt inside when she was in the middle of her cancer battle and she was not able to dance. This moment at Curefest brought back memories of pain, and at the same time it crushed those memories with the victory I witnessed when Gabi Shull took the stage and danced. Oh my gosh! Beautiful Gabi!
Thank you to Alvin Jones, Master of Ceremonies with a huge heart for the kids.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is something epic about the setting of CurefestDC. Do you notice what is directly between Tony and Amanda in the photo above? Hello, elected representatives, childhood cancer activists are more organized and more determined than ever before to have you listen to our One Voice to create change for childhood cancer. We need cures right now for all kids.
Like ten year-old Gabriella Miller so eloquently stated, “Talk is bullshit, we need action.”
It’s not okay to sit back, flap our gums and do nothing. CurefestDC gave all of us an opportunity to do something. I think CurefestDC inspired everyone who was present. There is no greater cause than the health of our children. There is nothing like spending the weekend with people who know this is true.
CurefestDC was one huge blast of hope and inspiration.
Don’t worry, Gabriella, we’re going to do a LOT more than talk!
Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano