Submitted by: Alfredo Martinez Jr. ‘12
This is a story of smiles and laughter. Honest ones. Lots of them.
It was 3:45AM on May 16, 2010 at the Stanford Track. The event was Relay For Life, a Stanford event dedicated to raising money for the fight against cancer. The event challenged participants to stay up for 24 hours because cancer doesn’t sleep and, for one night, neither would we. Add in exhaustion, stress, low temperatures, weary feet, and one started imagining excuses to sit this one out. You would find reasons to keep on going, though, if you looked for them. At that hour, after walking for a ridiculous amount of hours, I went looking for Kate and Jamie.
Kate McGrath ‘10 and Jamie Tam ‘10 stand out the minute you’re nearby. Their energy is infectious, and it’s for real. I first met them in 2009. With Kate, it started with an email, asking what I could do for Relay For Life. Kate, the Relay For Life Chair, replied, encouraging me to start a team since I seemed like “the perfect team captain” for my frosh dorm. With Jamie, it started with a meeting about raising money and recruiting teammates. Jamie, the President of Colleges Against Cancer, the group that hosted Relay For Life, told me I mentioned some great ideas that I should continue pursuing. I had never raised a single dollar for a cause, had never recruited anyone for an event, had never participated in Relay For Life, and had never even met Kate or Jamie, so I was surprised to hear these two have such confidence in me. Turns out they both knew more than I did. My Relay For Life team that year raised over $600 in less than two months and I joined the group’s leadership the following year. Their encouragement and inspiration? It helped, and it further convinced me that I was on the right path.
Fast forward to 2010. Bundled up in a tent in the middle of the freezing track, they were still smiling, laughing, and asking us how we were doing. In the middle of a very long night - 17 hours into the event! - they burst out into song and made us all smile and laugh with them. It was funny, unexpected, uplifting, authentic, and just what I needed. It was a reminder that in this Stanford community, no matter what you’re going through, you never have to walk alone. 24 hours out on a track didn’t seem so bad if it meant getting to share a moment with these two.
And that’s about as Stanford as it gets. Anybody who has ever been a Stanford student will tell you that it challenges you. It pushes buttons. It invades your comfort zone. It teaches and confuses. It inspires and overwhelms. It pressures you to make something out of nothing. It forces you at your most weary and beaten moments to reach out to the wonderful people at Stanford who just so happen to be the most intelligent, amazing, and inspiring collection of humans in the world. It opens you up so you can gain more from others. And, before you know it, it makes you a better person.
So here’s to you, Kate and Jamie, for all the smiles and inspiration I got to experience for two years. For helping me become a better person with every little encounter I got to enjoy. And because that one time you two burst out in song at 3:45AM on a weekend night in the shivering cold at the Stanford Track during Relay For Life? That was so Stanford.