We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, and many of those things we can’t even plan for. You may be heading out the door to do some quick shopping, only to discover that you have a flat tire. Or you might wake up on a busy weekday with the flu and are forced to stay home from work. When the unexpected happens, as it so often does, sometimes the only thing we can truly control is our response. Few people know this better than Bruce Roberson.
Twenty-three years ago, Bruce lost his sister to an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was young, healthy, a new mom, and seemingly had her whole life in front of her. Then, one day she noticed something unusual after her regular work out–what felt like a pulled muscle, that didn’t seem to heal normally. After consulting a doctor, he performed a biopsy, which revealed that it was cancer. Susan immediately called her brother, Bruce, who recommended she come to Houston and begin treatment as soon as possible. In coming here, Susan had the very best possible doctors and all the cutting-edge treatments available to her. However, despite every effort, the cancer spread quickly, and Susan lost her battle within only a year of diagnosis. When she died, Susan left behind her two-year-old son, Elliot.
Overnight, Bruce went from living the life of a bachelor and successful businessman to being the on-call uncle, hands-on in the life of his young nephew, now being cared for by Bruce and Susan’s mother. This was one of those unpredictable moments.
About a year after Susan died, a good friend suggested to Bruce that he revive an old tradition of his that had begun in college and had grown into a regular event after he moved to Houston. A scavenger hunt, with riddle-like clues, but done from the convenience of a car, and including some of the most interesting places in the city. Bruce’s friend suggested that he do it as a fundraiser, in Susan’s honor, and that is when Susan’s Rally officially began.
If something happens to you that monumental, then it has to be meaningful. Everything we do has to be meaningful…If something happens…, do something about it, make that person’s name memorable, one way or another.
Originally Bruce held the rally in Tulsa, where Susan had lived, in New Orleans, and in Houston. Now, the race is only in Houston and is an annual event every spring. Through the years, the charity has raised over $5.5 million in direct and in-kind donations with almost 100% of the money raised going directly to aid cancer patients.
In the beginning, all of the money donated was given to MD Anderson and Dr. John Stehlin for cancer research. After a few years, however, Bruce decided to go another direction. That’s when the partnership with Sojourn House began.
Sojourn House is an organization developed by 17 different churches and synagogues who came together to make apartments available to cancer patients and their families who were in town for cancer treatments. As a designer, Bruce decided to put his talent to use in helping to not only redecorate these apartments but to completely outfit them for long-term stay. Bruce remembered all too keenly what it was like when his sister would travel here for treatment and had to stay with him. He knew that she needed everything for life for weeks at a time. So, Bruce went to work making these apartments home-away-from-home for anyone who stayed there. He stocked them with kitchen utensils, pots and pans, hair dryers, towels, sheets, alarm clocks. All they had to do was walk in and they had everything they needed.
Over the years, these efforts have expanded somewhat. Through partnerships with the College of American Pathologists and National Cervical Cancer Coalition, Susan’s Rally is now sponsoring free pop-up clinics for women all around Houston. Doctors from all of the local hospitals come to offer free gynecological exams, pap smears, breast exams, mammography, even dental exams, diabetes checks, and heart exams–and it is all absolutely free to anyone and everyone.
We don’t just concentrate on breast cancer, we want to help people with all kinds of cancer. That’s why our shirts and logos are purple, the international color for cancers of all kinds.
This year’s Rally is being held Sunday, April 30th, and registration is now officially open. To participate in this fun and challenging event you can register online or by mail. Registration fee gets you into the race, as well as a live/silent auction and catered meal afterward.
The race will begin at Ladco Design Group, at 7900 Washington Avenue, will feature 10 stops, and will end at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum. Stops in the past have included the Beer Can House, The Orange Show, and the Cistern, so be prepared to see some of Houston’s most beloved oddities.
Kids really love it. My nephew, Elliot, is now 25 years old, and he comes to the Rally every year.
Participants will receive a sports shirt with logo, and a swag bag full of goodies. There are also prizes awarded to the winners. Only 100 cars will be allowed to participate, so register early here for guaranteed admission. **Be sure to mention that you read about it on Just Vibe Houston to receive a special secret clue to help you in the scavenger hunt!
If you are not able to participate in the race, but would like to join us for the auction and meal at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, tickets can be purchased online. You can also make donations directly using this link.