RFL of SL: updates, changes and events at year-end

via slrelayinfo.com

With the year drawing to a close, so to do the 2018 fund-raising efforts for the American Cancer Society (ACS) through Relay for Life of Second Life (RFL).

As I write this, the annual Xmas Expo has closed, having raised US $20,495 in  just 10 days. Currently, the RFL of SL SciFi Mini Expo is running, having opened its doors on December 14th – more on that below.

One of the criticisms of RFL of SL / ACS is that it is “US centric”, a claim that isn’t entirely accurate. ACS works on a global basis in cancer treatment and care, and for 2018, this has been demonstrated through RFL of SL adopting the Kenyatta National Hospital Hope Hostel, Kenya, part of the ACS’s initiative to expand its Hope Lodge project around the world, providing free accommodation for cancer patients and their caregivers during treatment, who might not otherwise be able to receive treatment away from home due to difficulties in meeting the costs of accommodation, etc.

The Kenyatta National Hospital Hope Hostel project represents the first international expansion of the Hope Lodge project because cancer is a leading cause of death within Kenya, where death rates from the disease among the populace have remained almost unchanged in 30 years. For 2018, the project was adopted by Fantasy Faire, which raised US $48,019 for the project. Further support for KNH will be provided via the proceeds from the Xmas Expo, some / all of which will be put towards funding two Patient Navigators to work with the more than 1500 cancer patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

Artist rendering of the Hope Hostel from the Kenyatta National Hospital website

You can read more about the KNH Hope Hostel here, and about the ACS Patient Navigation programme here.

Also in 2018, RFL of SL saw a broadening of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer season, while the RFL of SL team also took a hard look at how to better position itself for fund-raising and community engagement in 2019 and beyond. The latter included outlining a new volunteer structure, and planned adjustments to the RFL season within Second Life.

As with all things however, there are inevitable bumps in the road that can result in things having to change somewhat. And such is the case with RFL of SL.

On November 29th, 2018, and very quietly so as not to cause upset, Stingray Raymaker, who has helmed the liaison between AC and RFL of SL since 2008, announced he would be departing ACS in December 2018. In a touching letter on the RFL of SL website, he reviews his nine years as the ACS staff partner with RFL volunteers in Second Life. As he notes in that letter:

This does not mean that the American Cancer Society has chosen to end its presence in Second Life, but it does mean that our new vision for the future will need to be adjusted. While I fully expect that the American Cancer Society will assign a new staff partner to work with our volunteers in Second Life, this kind of transition will be easiest if we all focus on the essential tasks to provide quality cancer patient/survivor/caregiver support and Relay For Life/Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events.

Our ACS support outreach and advocacy team of Nikki Mathieson, Trager Alter, and MamaP Alter will continue to advocate for and support our Season Team and our 24-Hour Team.

– Stingray Raymaker

As a demonstration that RFL work will continue, with the 2019 RFL of SL website already published, and which will open for early registrations on Sunday, January 20th, 2019. In addition:

  • The ACS support outreach and advocacy team of Nikki Mathieson, Trager Alter, and MamaP Alter will continue to advocate for and support the Season Team and 24-Hour Team.
  • The Leads for the Season Team and the 24-Hour Team will continue to plan and execute the 2019 Relay for Life.
  • The Fundraising Tools will be unaffected.

However, the transitional period does mean that the planned ACS / RFL Community Gateway project has been put on hold, as has the 5-Days of Relay.

There will doubtless be further updates on all of this via the SL Relay Info website, and I’ll obviously aim to try to keep abreast of the news and report it here.

In the meantime, I’d like to take a belated opportunity to thank Stingray, someone I’ve only recently come to know, more’s the pity, for all of his work over the last nine years and for his enthusiasm for Second Life and its community; in particular, I’d like to publicly acknowledge his support and encouragement when I was having to face the threat of cancer myself at the start of 2018.

RFL of SL SciFi Mini Expo

SciFi Mini Expo

For those wishing to give further end-of-year support for RFL of SL fund-raising work, then as noted above, the SciFi Mini Expo is currently underway, and is being hosted on the ground level at Solaris Space Station, a Second life Role-Play Community. The event will run through until  Sunday, December 23rd, 2018.

The setting has a suitably wintry feel to it, but overall, details are a little scant. You can check the event calendar for entertainment at the Expo (ignore the title of the calendar – it does in fact refer to 2018!), but the best way to see what is available is obviously to pay a visit.

There is a fair selection of booths for role-play groups etc, plus a ski / sled run is available, alongside of a zipline ride, while ice skating can be found down on the ground.. The theatre is nicely arranged as the bridge of the original Enterprise NCC-1701 (with additional seating) – although the advertised film showings were at the time of my visit (and not a little amusingly) for The Orville.

Playing with Star Trek starships at the SciFi Mini Expo – which offers a Constitution class cruiser (l) and a Klingon D7 to play with

Alongside the Expo region is a second (reached via the maglev style car circling both regions) is a broader events area. Not specifically Expo themed, it does have RFL kiosks scattered around it, and offers various activities. These include a Warbugs air combat airstrip with ‘plane rezzer and – for those wishing to keep in the sci-fi spirit, a starship rezzer specifically for the Expo, offering a choice of classic Star Trek Constitution class cruiser or snazzy classic Klingon D7.  I confess, I found flying these around a lot of fun 🙂 . Should you opt for the latter, please consider a donation to RFL of SL at the nearby kiosk.