First year BellRinger volunteer Pamela Watson brought more than a smile and positive attitude to the 50/100-mile Finish Line in Urbana, MD just a few weeks ago — she came with a heart full of compassion and an eagerness to uplift every Rider crossing the finish line on a journey to end cancer.
With almost 13 years of experience under her belt as a medical interpreter specializing in American Sign Language (ASL) at MedStar Health, Pamela has spent over a decade advocating for and assisting others. She has spent years being a part of initiatives like BellRinger and couldn’t help but take part in the one that took place right in her backyard.
In 2022, the buzz about BellRinger’s Inaugural Ride made its way through MedStar Health. While she was unable to participate in the Inaugural Ride, she began to prepare herself to ride 25-miles in BellRinger 2023 as a member of Team MedStar Health Riders. After a year of fundraising and training, Pamela found herself finally ready to ride, only to face an unexpected hurdle – she contracted COVID just two weeks before big day. Undeterred, Pamela reached out to the BellRinger Team and expressed her desire to contribute in any way possible.
Assigned to the 50/100-mile Finish Line in Urbana, MD, as a volunteer, Pamela was eager to make a meaningful impact, she threw herself into various volunteer tasks, but unexpectedly found herself becoming the designated photographer capturing each Rider as they crossed the finish. As she clicked the camera for each Rider, she also welcomed them with a cheer and a sign for “I love you” in ASL.
For Pamela, volunteering for BellRinger was more than an act of service; it was an opportunity to be a part of something that truly mattered to her. With each click of the camera, she witnessed not only the physical accomplishment of the Riders but the emotional impact it had on them to cross the finish line. She was struck by the overwhelming support from volunteers and spectators alike, transforming the day into one that she won’t soon forget, and cannot wait to be a part of in 2024.
When asked about the overall experience, Pamela highlighted what it felt like to be around so many people doing good for one another. To her, BellRinger was an embodiment of what life should be – people supporting one another through trials and triumphs.
Pamela shared, “While I was taking photos, I saw a Rider come across the finish line with his hand covering his mouth. At first, I couldn’t tell if something was wrong or that he couldn’t believe that he had finished. I later found out that I was wrong with both, and that he had completed his 50-mile Ride in honor of his parents, both of whom he lost to cancer, and was overcome with emotions. It was moments like that where I saw the beauty of BellRinger through someone else’s eyes and how it meant so much to everyone who participated. I just felt like I was in a place where people were acting the way they were supposed to act as human beings — that when others are suffering, we come together and help.”
To Pamela, the future of cancer research and the role that BellRinger plays is hopeful and bright. As 100% of funds raised through BellRinger go directly to funding groundbreaking research at Georgetown Lombardi, she knows that this cause is one people have no reason to not get involved with. Pamela’s journey with BellRinger has just begun, and she is excited to see all that is in store for years to come.