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Southlake Style

2012 Relay for Life

May 10, 2012 02:25PM ● By tina

by David J. Faltys, Ed.D

CISD Superintendent

I once heard someone ask is 12 years a long time? Well, is it?

How we look at life depends on the view or lens we use. Twelve years is equal to 4,380 days, 105,120 hours and 6.3 million minutes. To some, 12 years may not seem like a long time, but 6.3 million minutes sounds like an eternity.

During that time, a child basically completes a K-12 education. When you are working with your third grader on spelling words, 12 years can feel like an eternity. But I watched my son walk across the stage and accept his diploma, and 12 years seemed very short.

Twelve years is a long time for someone suffering with a serious illness, but it is not nearly long enough for parents who lose a 12-year-old child.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is all about perspective. Six years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and that put a whole lot of things in perspective for me. I’ve watched my wife battle this disease with grace and dignity, all while taking care of our kids and keeping things as normal as possible. She’s been nothing short of inspirational.

From our kids’ perspective, they’ve learned way too early what it means to have doctor visits, scans and side effects of chemotherapy. But they’ve watched the strength of their mom and learned life lessons that will carry them through their own struggles as adults. It’s given us all new perspective. . .especially on the importance of every moment laughing, loving and living.

This last month, my wife reached a milestone in her personal journey when we found out that she went an entire year with “clean” scans. I cannot tell you how excited our family is about this news. And while the path since 2006 has been a struggle for all of us, it has given us new perspective on life – a new appreciation for friends, for health experts, for modern technology, for advancements in medicine, for time.

Three years ago, one of our Carroll ISD students asked us to consider a project that would help others by showing the kindness and compassion taught in our Rachel’s Challenge program. Neha Jain, now a junior, came up with the idea of a community-wide fundraising effort to help those who struggle with cancer. And while there are a lot of good causes that deserve our attention in life, Neha found one that has basically touched the lives of everyone. We all know someone affected by cancer.

Relay For Life was born out of the heart of a middle school student whose perspective on life believed one person can make a difference. More than 5,000 people attended Relay For Life in 2010. Participants – mostly teenagers – raised more than $200,000 for cancer research. Last year, the community rallied to raise $259,000 to help end cancer and ensure more birthdays. Our daughter Peyton was one of the top five individual fundraisers, collecting a little over $1,800 to help.

There might have been a time when we thought we were too busy to join Neha Jain in making a difference. Six years ago, my perspective changed. And while we certainly would never wish this struggle on anyone, we know that it has made our family stronger.

My wife is stronger because of the uncertainty she has faced; our kids are stronger because of what they’ve seen their mom go through; and hopefully I am stronger as I lead our family into the future. We learned just this year that our son’s elementary teacher is facing a similar journey, and our perspective on how to help and support others has changed, too. The compassion and care that is being shown to this teacher by her Dragon family is amazing. It’s a sense of inspiration to me not only to see her own attitude and courage, but also to see a community of children, adults and educators rally around her.

It was once said that the human spirit is stronger than anything life can throw at it. I believe that. . .I’ve witnessed that firsthand. I hope you will join us at our Rachel’s Challenge Rally/Relay For Life, Southlake event May 11 at Carroll High School. You, too, can gain new perspective. All because one Dragon teenager dared to make a difference.

iRelay for Jennifer.

iRelay for each and every Dragon affected by cancer.

Dr. David Faltys serves as Superintendent of Carroll Independent School District, the largest 5A Exemplary district in the state of Texas.  He was named by the 2010 Region XI Superintendent of the Year after being nominated for the award by his local School Board.  David and his wife, Jennifer, have four children: Dave, Peyton, Kenton and Lauren.