KR: For our newer readers who may not be fully aware of what this is all about, the Relay For Life is one of the American Cancer Society’s most celebrated events, which has helped raised millions of dollars to fund the research which one day may help stamp out cancer. Taking it a step further the RFL has turned to helping raise money within the virtual world of Second Life, which is operated by Linden Lab, based out of San Francisco-California in the United States.
Joining me today is the Online Content Manager for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life – National Relay For Life Business Unit. Known by his avatar and other SL’ers as Stingray9798 Raymaker, along with fellow SL based RFL staff member MamaP Beerbaum, who was gracious enough to spend some time telling Krypton Radio about their excitement over the accomplishment of raising 1Million U.S. dollars through the world of Second Life.
Thank you to both of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to speak with KR, I’ll start off with Mr Raymaker on this. Can you give our readers a brief history on how the RFL came to be set up in SL, and how Linden Lab has helped you out on these efforts?
Stingray: Actually, the American Cancer Society got involved in Second Life in 2004 when a group of volunteers approached our national office about raising money in-world. The American Cancer Society evaluated the level of effort with the expected results, and determined that it would be worth piloting an event. The Second Life experience would be overseen by the Futuring and Innovation Department (RC Mars), and the event would be a gala. The following year, interest grew, and the first Relay For Life of Second Life was held, raising $5,000 USD for the American Cancer Society. Over the years, American Cancer Society staff and volunteers have worked closely with Linden Lab to ensure that the RFL of SL has all it needs to execute the Relay season, and its continued growth. ACS staff and volunteers have presented at SLCC and other SL-related conferences, and LL continues to work closely with us to ensure that our efforts are supported across the grid.
KR: It’s remarkable so many people who are spread across the world have been able to find a common ground in their passion to defeat cancer, and have been able to use a medium such as Second Life to raise funds to fight this menace to our health as a people. I’d like to get a reaction from both of you on this, I would imagine emotions are running a bit high for everyone, the joy over raising such a grand amount of money. Can you share with our readers how you all are feeling and maybe share a story on how you personally came to be involved with the RFL in SL?
Stingray: Our collective response would be:
We work endlessly to create opportunities for members of all SL communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer. We recognize that behind every avatar is a real human being, and that person has been touched by cancer in some way. Regardless of how someone chooses to live their Second Life, they should have a platform through which they can fight this disease and use the virtual world to make tangible differences in the real-world.
MamaP:We come from over 25 countries around the world. We are horse lovers, bunny lovers, Star Trek followers, we are goreans, we are furries, we are tinies, we are fairies, we are super heroes, we are snails, we are families, college students, men and woman, we come from different communities, nationalities, and races, the list goes on and on and on, but the most important thing to remember is that our strength will come from us working together!
I relay for my Dad. I came to SL at about the same time that his cancer returned. He had been a 10 year survivor, and then it came back with a vengeance. As I became one of his caretakers, SL became my safe place, my escape. And then I found out that I could Relay here, that I could fight against what was taking him from me, and do it as I sat with him, watching him. I relay to honor my father and all those we have lost to
KR: I know many of our readers can sympathize and certainly relate to the reasons that have brought both of you to join the RFL, as well as many supporters who also have devoted great amounts of time and energy to donating and holding events to help raise money. For those who are interested and would like to join the RFL efforts in Second Life, would you like to share some tips and advice on how people can get started?
Stingray:If you are in Second Life, you are probably here because you have specific interests. Find the community that you like in Second Life and see if that community already has a RFL of SL team. Seek out a team of people that are already having fun doing what you like to do…through Relay. If you Relay through doing something you love, you will likely find a more rewarding experience.
KR: Excellent advice for those wanting to get started with the Relay For Life, and I know there are many who would enjoy this as much as I do. People whose lives perhaps do not allow them the latitude to participate in RFL events in the real world, but with Second Life it truly is your world, your imagination. During your time spent with the organization I’m sure you’ve all had some very memorable moments, that you felt really exemplified how the RFL in SL has touched people’s lives, and shown what a virtual world can really do to help those stricken with cancer. Could you share one of those stories with us?
Stingray:For me, it came at what would seem the simplest and most meaningless experiences. It was my first year as the RFL of SL Staff Partner. I was standing on side the track, talking to a few volunteers in local chat when a dragon walked on the track behind us. Someone yelled, “HEY! THAT DRAGON IS WALKING THE WRONG WAY!!” It wasn’t about the fact that a dragon was on the track. It was about making sure that the dragon was Relaying appropriately. That was the moment that I realized that RFL of SL transcends real world preconceptions. And that would be the defining moment of my philosophy for being the American Cancer Society staff partner in Second Life. I embraced the fact that this was a world that was only limited by our imagination. By encouraging and empowering our volunteers in Second Life, we have been able to raise over $1 million USD and actually help avatars in their personal battles with cancer.
KR: The efforts of all those in Second Life have proven some of the amazing things that a virtual world can make possible, and I want extend a very sincere thank you to both of you on behalf of Krypton Radio and all those who stand to benefit from the cancer research you tirelessly help fund. Please feel free to share any final thoughts or shout outs you would all like to give!
Stingray: We just want to be sure to recognize and appreciate all of the volunteers, team captains, team members, donors, supporters, artists, designers, land owners, committee members, and anyone who supports our efforts across the grid. The success that cancer patients have benefited from is due to the fact that the residents of Second Life recognize their own ability to make tangible differences in the real world through their online interactive experiences.
KR: Thank you all, and have a wonderful day, Go Relay!