Why Volunteer Coordinator-Extrodinaire, Chris Siciliano, chooses Komen Greater Cincinnati.
Have you ever had a moment while doing something small, that has triggered something inside of you so strong you decide you HAVE to do something about it?
That happened to me in 2004. I was in New York City participating in my very first Race for the Cure, and I was filling out the placard to put on my back during the walk. As I started listing the women that I was walking in Memory of and in Honor of, I realized it was going to take me two full cards! Two cards full of my friends, my great-grandma, and my grandma. It gave me a lot to think about during those 3.1 miles from Times Square through Central Park. More than 40,000 people participated in the race that day and I was amazed at the stories being told around me and reading the cards on all of those backs. Most of all, following the race was the Survivor Ceremony, and hearing women introduce themselves and telling how long they had been survivors…2 years, 17 years, 33 years…3 weeks. Seeing so many people united made me want to get more involved.
In 2010, I lost my job after almost 9 years with the same company. Sitting at home was driving me crazy. I didn’t have any money to spend and I had nothing but long days with a lot of time on my hands. I received the Komen Greater Cincinnati E-newsletter. This particular edition, they were asking for committee members for the 2010 Race for the Cure. I emailed back and said that I was interested in volunteering. I walked in to the office thinking that maybe I would help on a committee, and I walked out the Volunteer Coordinator for the entire Race!
Driving home, I immediately called my mom to tell her what I had done, and that I had volunteered her to help me. Normally, I would have given her a choice in helping me but this day was a little different. My mom said not a problem and took off work for that Friday and Saturday of Race weekend!
The 2010 Race day was September 25th. As excitement grew and volunteers started rolling in, I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I also took Friday off of work so that I could help with set up. My mom and I arrived and helped organize the boxes and boxes. I was at the Great American Ball Park by 5:00AM. It was a beautiful fall morning, clear and just crisp enough to keep you cool while getting everything started. As the sun came up, both my mom and dad were busy checking volunteers in and pointing them in the direction of their committees. My mom and dad and the team that I had in the volunteer booth made the event one that I will never forget.
As the volunteers arrived and the sponsors set up, I was able to look around and see first-hand that the day was going to be extraordinary. At the sun moved higher in the sky and the 18,000 participants began gathering along Nuxall Way for the start, the buzz in the air proved that we were making a difference in the world. 5 kilometers/ 3.1 miles is not a very long way, but it is a long way when 18,000 people are united for one cause. The crowd united as one voice, shouting together that breast cancer will not beat us; it is not stronger than us. As the competitive runners came through the finish line and then the walkers, you could see a sense of accomplishment on each of their faces. They just made a contribution to the millions of supporters and survivors around the world.
Above: Chris (far right), her family and volunteers at the 2010 Race for the Cure.
About that time, my brother, sister in-law, and nephew, Jae, were participating in the kids fun run. Jae was about 19 months old, as they brought him out on the field his eyes lit up. What a cool experience for a little kid. Heck, what a cool experience for the big kids (like me…and my parents)! With the music playing over the stadium speakers, Jae would run a few steps and then stop to dance…run a few steps and then stop to dance. This went on all the way down the third base line! At the finish when he received his completion medal, he was so proud. He showed everyone that he saw and held onto it until he fell asleep in the car. One tiny little step in support of his great-grandma.With everything that happened that day, I can say that September 25, 2010 was probably in the top rankings of best days of the year for me.
I am fortunate that I have found an organization that does work I believe in. Once I started volunteering with Komen Cincinnati, I wanted to find more ways to help. I was also lucky enough to find a job not long after I started volunteering. I still don’t have a lot of money to donate but I still have plenty of time. I volunteer with Komen in many other ways other than the Race. I have been happy to help by selling raffle tickets, honored to help on the field at the Red’s Mother’s Day game, assist at the Power of a Promise awards and help at the Q102 Bosom Ball, featuring Sara Bareilles (2011 Grammy Nominee!).I love being a part of the Komen Greater Cincinnati team. I am excited that new volunteer opportunities are coming up all the time and can’t wait to start working on the Race again! I highly encourage anyone to join our efforts. We will have hundreds of volunteer positions open for the 2011 Race so SAVE THE DATE: September 24, 2011. (But don’t worry; you probably won’t have to be there at 5:00AM!)