It’s been part of the healing process of losing my grandfather. Coming to Relay (for Life) isn’t just a way of fundraising, it’s a way for me to remember him and honor him. Every time I do Relay, it’s like he’s there with me.
Michaela McCarthy, ’20, had an unbreakable bond with her grandfather, Arthur T. Flynn.
Michaela and Artie, as she called him, made silly human-like creations from wood, gardened in the greenhouse, and swam in the pool together. Michaela often yelled out from her next-door daycare to see if she could come to his house, and, sometimes, he’d oblige.
“My grandfather was truly my best friend,” said Michaela, a Bridgewater State University elementary education and math major from Foxboro. “He was someone I always looked up to and he was my hero. He still is.”
Cancer turned out to be the only thing that could separate them. Flynn was diagnosed with throat cancer the year Michaela was born, and had to work to regain the ability to speak. In the early 2000s, he faced leukemia. However, a second leukemia diagnosis, along with lymphoma, proved too much, and he died in 2010. Michaela was just 13 years old.
In a way, Flynn and Michaela (pictured at right) are still together each time she participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She has done the overnight walking fundraising event essentially since she was born, seeking to help people like her grandfather and other relatives with cancer. This year will be different as Michaela co-leads BSU’s relay April 5-6 in the Tinsley Center.
“I was extremely excited to accept this position,” said Michaela, noting that this will be her 21st year attending Relay for Life.
College Relays are different than the community-run ones Michaela has previously attended. At BSU’s event, she will be with about 800 of her friends and peers, and students are extremely motivated to support a good cause.
“Bridgewater is a very unique school and unique community,” she said. “People will go out of their way to be nice to you, and this just follows suit… So many people do this with friends and teammates just because they want to do this and be part of the cure.”
It means so much more to Michaela.
“It’s been part of the healing process of losing my grandfather,” she said. “Coming to Relay isn’t just a way of fundraising, it’s a way for me to remember him and honor him. Every time I do Relay, it’s like he’s there with me.”
Donations will be accepted before, during and even after the event. Visit BSU’s Relay for Life website to donate or sign up to participate in this weekend’s event.
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