“Her cancer is back.” These are the words I heard on my 3rd day of work at Alston & Bird, in August of 2010. The “her” they were referring to was Hailey Trainer, my friend and former co-worker, Mark Trainer’s 2 year old daughter. She had been in remission from a rare form of brain cancer AT/RT.
Mark’s wife Shauna had a Caringbridge website. She updated it almost daily and it was read by many people at the firm. Shauna has this amazing ability to make you cry and laugh at the same time. Usually, you were at your desk when this horribly embarrassing laugh/cry was happening. Luckily most people on our floor read the Caringbridge blog so they understood. At this point I hadn’t met Shauna, but I feel like I knew her. I felt like she was my close personal friend going through this unimaginable trauma.
Over the next few months I witnessed what cancer can do to a family. Not just any cancer, but childhood cancer. Hailey’s health rapidly began to decline and she passed away in November of 2010. About a week before Hailey passed away, it was time for the annual Rally Bash. I was lucky enough to be able to attend that year. I was always sad when you hear about children being sick and dying, but to attend this event and hear their stories first hand completely changed my life. I knew I wanted to be involved.
Our firm has a fundraising program once a month called Casual Day for a Cause. It allows the staff and attorneys at the firm to pay a minimum donation of $5.00 to wear jeans to the office on Wednesday of that week. After submitting Rally as the beneficiary of the corporate fundraiser two years in a row, it was finally selected.
In mid-January of this year, I received the call, “The Rally Foundation has been chosen as one of our casual days for a cause! Oh and by the way- it’s the first one of the year, in about 5 days.” I quickly got in touch with Shauna and the Rally Foundation regarding stickers and promotional materials. I sent out the firm wide emails telling them about the cause and the Rally Kids affected by childhood cancer. I received a lot of great feedback from attorneys and staff across the firm. “Thanks for making me cry before 10:00am”, “Great email, very touching”, and others very similar. Mostly from people who knew Mark, but I also received emails from people I’d never met who were also very enthusiastic about donating. There was a lot of momentum going in to Casual Day.
Fast forward to casual day Wednesday—Snowpocalypse 2014 in Atlanta when the office was closed and the city was shut down. The fundraiser was postponsed to the following week, which gave the opportunity to get the word out even more! The following Wednesday we hosted our first Casual Day for a Cause benefitting the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Many people donated more than the recommended $5.00 and we raised over $1,200- a significant amount more than is usual for our Casual Day fundraiser.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to be even more involved with Rally fundraisers and I’ve served as a volunteer at events like Rally Idol. It’s an amazing experience to make a difference for kids fighting cancer. I can’t wait for more corporate fundraisers at Alston & Bird LLP and to be further involved as a Rally Volunteer!