Since I got home late Friday night from 2 weeks of vacation that started the day after PACAA, I've been able to truly catch up on my sleep and literally just lay on the couch without any plans. It's been kind of nice, and also has given me some time to collect lanyard photos (do you KNOW how many photos these kids take at PACAA, and how many photo albums they have on facebook!? Back in my leaders days, we used disposable cameras and there was no way to share them online!).
I would say that our Erin Dream Lanyard endeavor was a huge success!! The night itself was full of glitches, as most special events at PACAA are, however we ran things as smoothly as we possibly could. One of our biggest issues was the time constraint. By the third group that came through, we were smoothly churning out finished lanyards, but the first two groups that went through (which equals about 40 teens) didn't get to finish their lanyards because we were still working out the kinks. I am so thankful for my co-staff members who were down in that basement with me, sweating to death and attempting to direct traffic, dispense beads, tape ends of wire, organize finished lanyards so that they wouldn't get tangled, and pat my shoulder every once in awhile and say, "Kristen, breathe!" It was an amazing night, and I am so incredibly proud of those kids and the interest they showed in Erin, her fight against Neuroblastoma, and her fundraising efforts.
The night had a few touching moments as well. There was one group who's explanation got cut short when the demo lanyard I was holding slipped from my hand (I was holding the tape, and my hands were sweating so the tape just slide right off) and all the beads went EVERYWHERE. As about 5 leaders helped me pick up the beads, I asked if there were any questions, just to fill the time it was taking to find the beads. One boy asked, "Is Erin Dead?" I had carefully explained to all of the other groups that Erin had passed away in April, but I hadn't reached that part in my speech yet and his purely innocent and honest question caught me off guard, especially because I was flustered from dropping a lanyard in front of 40 leaders and 8 staff members. I answered, "Yes, Erin passed away in April. She fought her cancer for so many years and her body got very tired." I watched the boy who asked the question stare at the ground for a few minutes, and the two boys on either side of him patted him on the back. Later on, the three of them sat in the corner making lanyards and actually talking about pediatric cancer, and who they'd ever known that had cancer. It was a great moment for me, and really made me feel like I had made the right decision, to make Erin Dream Lanyards at PACAA. It was a lot of work, and I may have overestimated exactly how many we could make and how smoothly it would run, but I had two ultimate goals in doing it: 1. To help Erin's family stock up on plenty of lanyards. and 2. To show these teens that they can do something as small as putting beads on wire to be sold, and that can change the world. I tried to stress how incredibly important it is to raise money for Neuroblastoma research and family support, because it is a rare cancer and not enough attention is paid to pediatric cancer, let alone NB.
Unfortunately, because of the confusion, I needed the staff members who came through to help with organizing, so they didn't get to make lanyards - although a some of them did make them later in the week when we had some free time. This also cut down on our total number made, however, it was more important at the time for them to be helping me help the kids make them!
Numbers from the night:
316 = dollars worth of beads
170 = wire starts
160 = styrofoam trays
5 = staff members running/helping the station (Me, Tim, Dan B., Rachel, and Meaghan)
122 = teen leaders
6 = groups of teens
48 = finished lanyards
50 = unfinished lanyards
2 = number of times I teared up during the event
2 = number of times a lanyard was accidentally mishandled and beads rushed to the floor
3 = number of times someone connected on their own that Erin had the same cancer as Liam
Here are a few sneak peaks of some of the finished lanyards! (click to enlarge)
Box of leftover beads and unfinished Lanyards:
I've been working on those unfinished lanyards on and off for the last few weeks. It's actually pretty relaxing to just put on some music and string away. I also find it kind of interesting to see these unfinished lanyards, because I have to try to figure out where that particular teen was going with the order of the beads. Some of the lanyards are absolutely gorgeous, some are more manly, and some are kind of random. I saw so many boys making beautiful lanyards - which totally took me by surprise. I also saw some girls helping the guys pick out what would be great. One of my favorite quotes from the night was: Boy: "I don't know what colors to go with" Girl: "Choose colors that you think your mom would like" Boy: "Well, she doesn't have a favorite color" Girl: "Then make it green, since that was Erin's favorite color" ... I just liked that because it proved that they were actually listening when I was talking! :-)
So that's pretty much it! I was excited to discover a few days ago that there is a new facebook group for Erin Dream Lanyards, so I'm going to direct our leaders to that website, since an incredible number of them are on facebook. I also have a few people who took some unfinished lanyards with them, and they have them done now, so those will be coming in the mail soon.
All in all, the night was great, many lanyards were made/almost finished/started, and hopefully all of those leaders felt like they were doing something meaningful and amazing, because they were!