The Mountain Home community was fortunate to host two major events over the weekend that brought together hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Both events not only raised money to benefit others here and across the United States, but they also sought to also raise awareness of some often-overlooked but very noble causes.
The first I want to mention happened Sunday when the Mountain Home community welcomed more than 700 motorcycle riders to our town during this year's Patriot Thunder observance. These men and women gathered in Meridian and traveled here in a procession stretching several miles to help our nation's military, in particular those most in need of help.
It's still too early to know how much money Patriot Thunder actually raised, but once all the money is counted, every penny will go toward several charities, including Operation Warmheart at Mountain Home Air Force Base and the Idaho Guard and Reserve Family Support Fund at Gowen Field. Simply put, a lot of this money will stay in the local area to directly help those in our own community.
Having covered this event the past few years, seeing so many people come together for this type of cause simply makes me feel proud to be an American. As a veteran myself, I've had to take advantage of these type of relief organizations during my military career, in particular one that helped cover my travel expenses so I could fly home after my grandmother died.
I've never forgotten how these agencies really do support our veterans in their times of need, and I've done what I can over the years to repay that debt.
The next event I need to mention happened on Saturday when Mountain Home hosted this year's Relay for Life. Over a 12-hour period, people from Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry and other communities across Elmore County came together to not only raise money for cancer research and treatment but to remind people that cancer never "sleeps."
I suppose I was a little annoyed that there were people in this community who didn't know that the Relay was happening throughout the day. With all the signs posted around the park, combined with the fact that this newspaper had carried the story announcing the event, I really wish I didn't hear people drive by asking, "what's going on?"
My reasoning is pretty simple. I've personally dealt with cancer, which claimed the lives of my dear friends as well as members of my family.
My first real dealings with death happened when I was still a teenager, and my grandfather was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. I vividly remember when he was admitted to the hospital and I overheard him saying to my parents that he wasn't going to make it.
At the time, I figured he was being melodramatic. It didn't even dawn upon me that my parents were taking me and my brother to the hospital an awful lot, although neither of us were ever allowed in his room.
To this day, I still remember when my parents came home from the hospital. It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen my father cry.
At that moment, I realized that I had lost my grandfather. Holding back tears myself, I ran out of the house into the backyard, where I cried uncontrollably for what seemed like hours.
Since then, I've seen cancer claim others in my family. I've also had a few close friends and former co-workers who were also diagnosed with the disease, which plays no favorites nor does it care who it strikes.
Next month, my family will mark the passing of my wife's father, who was stricken with at least one form of blood cancer. When we went to see him, he was actually back on his feet and feeling fine. I thought that he beat the odds and was now a survivor.
That's when we got the call one evening when the cancer resurfaced and was even worse than when he fought it the first time around. Unable to travel to see him again as his condition deteriorated rapidly, my family and I sat by the phone waiting for the news that we knew was coming.
I remember my wife and I jumping in our seats as the phone rang. I sat next to my wife and held her hand as she broke down into tears. At that moment, there was nothing I could say or do that would make things better.
It's reasons like this that my family took time out of their day and walked a couple laps around Carl Miller Park. Each lap we completed was in memory of everyone we've lost along the way -- parents, grandparents and close friends. I made it a point to keep others in my thoughts as we walked, including my friend, Kelly, and my former Air Force boss, Robyn, both of whom fought the disease, beat overwhelming odds against them and at last check were both doing good.
My daughter, Kristen, took it an extra step when we attended the relay and chose to walk a lap in honor of two family pets that we lost to cancer, the most recent of which happened just last month. That's just how she is because her level of compassion extends beyond people and includes our "furry companions" as well.
This is why Relay for Life -- a very noble cause -- remains near and dear to my heart. I can only hope some day that we will finally find a cure for this disease.
I hope that in years to come that people will no longer have to endure the pain to fight cancer and that their families no longer have to deal with the different type of pain they also carry.
-- Brian S. Orban