Tonight, there will be a slight deviation from what you normally see on this blog, though certainly there is a beautiful outfit by a talented designer with jewelry from one of SL’s premier designers to enjoy. But tonight, there is more. A story to be shared and an invitation. If I ramble, apologies in advance. I tend to do that. But I hope you enjoy the words and the pictures. They come from the heart.
I have two passions in Second Life. I participate in the Relay for Life and I am one of many new budding models to enter the fashion industry. They are both paths filled with challenges and triumphs, hugs and laughter and occasionally a tear or two as well. For one week, the two worlds collide into an extravagant celebration where Relay for Life and the fashion world hold hands and celebrate, raise money to help fund the fight against cancer, a dreadful disease that touches far too many.
And yet, outside of that week’s celebration, the two worlds do not often meet. I have heard that in times past, there was much collaboration and it is my dream of the future to see that collaboration return throughout the whole relay season, bringing designers and agencies and models together with survivors and caregivers and volunteers. As I walk around the tracks and people stop to tilt their head at my incredible height (7.98 meters), I look forward to a time when the model is not such an extraordinary sighting. That is my hope and my dream for 2016.
A month ago, I agreed to help and stepped up to take over the position of Co-Lead for the Survivors and Caregivers of Relay for Life of Second Life. You see, I am a caregiver, or someone who is helping or has helped someone with cancer through their fight. I sat with my father in the doctor’s office as he was told he had stage 3 rectal cancer. And it was a terrifying six months as he went through radiation and chemotherapy and as I did everything I could from 4,000 miles away. He survived his fight and was told just a few weeks before Christmas that the cancer was gone. And nothing in this world meant as much as that hug he gave me when I stepped off the plane.
This relay season has been a precious one, where I have worked hand in hand with some of the most brilliant, creative, and insane people in Second Life. And we have gone from volunteers together to friends and family. I was able to fly down to visit my dad this summer and he and I have sat together as I have shown him all of the stuff we do with Relay for Life in Second Life. I’ve told him countless stories and tomorrow, he will see his first Relay Weekend, virtual style.
Relay Weekend is the culminating event, the end result of six months of hard work and drive from passionate people who are ready to see 2015 be the year we cure cancer. There have been events hosted, weeks planned, exhibitions done, and stories shared. There have been over 200 different teams working collaboratively in Second Life and combined, including Fashion 4 Life, together we have raised 247,878 US dollars, as of 3 a.m. this morning. And we’re not done yet.
Relay Weekend will take place on 38 sims joined together to create one enormous track. It is a tradition that goes back to 1985, the year I was born, when Relay for Life first began. This is our 30th birthday. Yay! And yes, yes, I turn 30 four days after Relay ends. And I can’t wait! But, that milestone on my life will pale in comparison to this weekend. When 200 teams will come together with their friends and family and we will see thousands of people join us for an amazing 24 hour experience.
Among those thousands, we will see and celebrate with survivors and caregivers, those who have fought and won and helped. And we will remember and treasure those who we’ve lost. And among the many ways we will do that, there is one very special tradition that also began 30 years ago, and that is the lighting of the luminaries that line the track, going through all 38 sims.
Each luminary is precious. It is a wish. A thank you. A “We love you”. And a “We miss you”. You are not limited to one. Too many of us know more than one who has been touched by cancer. But each is so very special and that is why I chose to take my picture surrounded by them, my wishes. My love. My hope and my memories.
But what does this have to do with fashion, Cata?
Well, you see, here is where we see the joy and amazing nature of our volunteers. As said above, a month ago I stepped in to help finish the end of the season and I was given one small task. TS Darrow, the lead this year, said “Catalina, can you do the gifts for the survivors and caregivers?”
And we all know me. I was like “Sure!” and he gave me not only free reign, but he also gave me his trust. I went to him and the steering committee with this new idea, something that had never been done before. And I had a month to put it together. And in the end, I had their blessing.
So I got to work! Gathering together designers from across Second life, creators of the beautiful, the wacky, the fun, and the amazing. And even though it was last minute and it is the month of events all across the fashion world, over 30 designers stepped in and donated something for the survivors and caregivers who will take part in Relay for Life with us.
A chance to honor them, for their fight, their sacrifice, their heart, and their strength. A small token of affection and admiration. Many of the designers when we spoke told me how cancer has touched their lives.
It is all around us, y’all. And it is our mission and our job and our responsibility to end the fight. This year’s slogan is “The Future is Now”, and I cannot imagine a more fitting time to hear the announcement around the world that 2015 is the end of cancer.
And so as we prepare for Relay Weekend, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 18th and going a straight 24 hours through Sunday, I took a little bit of time and I took a few pictures in this dress, a donation from Athena Couture, a gift for the survivors and caregivers. It is called Jewel, and it is an exclusive for Relay Weekend. And as a committee member, a volunteer, a caregiver, and a daughter, I wear it proudly.
With a gown like this, for an occasion like this, there was only one place I could go for jewelry, and that was Chop Zuey Couture Jewelry. The Brazilian Moon set, which I am wearing in the pictures, is an exquisite set and one that as soon as I saw it, it took my breath away and I knew exactly where I would wear it.
And so this is my outfit for the Formal Hour, the last hour before the closing of the ceremonies. I hope I will see you on the track. I hope you will enjoy Relay Weekend. And I hope that in the year to come, we will come together, holding hands, and see the end of this fight against cancer.
The Future is Now.
An amazing thank you to all of the stores here, all donors who took part in the Survivor and Caregiver Gazebo of Hope, donating what they could in the hopes they would help make a survivor smile.
Thank you all so much.
Gown | Athena Couture | Jewel | DJRoseAthena Resident | Relay for Life Limited Edition
Jewelry | Chop Zuey Couture Jewelry | Brazilian Moon Set | Texture Change | Belle Roussel | New Release
Hair | TRUTH Hair | Felicity | Blondes | Truth Hawks