August 4, 2012 Pinckney Michigan - I met Eric randomly in 2011. He happened to be from the same city that I currently live in (Ypsilanti). I found out we were both brain tumor survivors. He tried to get me to go to the Masskicker’s Paintball Benefit, but I was stubborn and I declined. I was concerned about the physical demands and chickened out. But at least I got to eat some burritos with Eric and his brother, Oliver in Ypsi. I told myself that next year I should give it a chance.
In 2012, Eric invited me to a pre-event dinner at Potbelly’s, down the road from me and I decided it would be good to meet some new people. I’m really glad I went. I got to meet two really cool girls from New York (Deana and Jamie) and I got to know Eric and Oliver better. We spent the entire night talking and barely any of it was about cancer or brain tumors. I had so much fun that night and there was more to come the next day!
Oliver kindly drove the girls and I to the event in the morning. I have to admit I was a little intimidated at first. There were all these hardcore paintballers with mohawks and heavy duty gear. Thankfully, I had at least gotten to know Eric, Oliver, Deana and Jaime. So I had some comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only person who was pretty new to paintballing. I had no idea there was so much stuff involved in paintball ( markers/guns, masks, CO2 ,pads, loose clothing, missions, special fields, referees, etc.). I was in no hurry to get on the field, but it seemed like everyone wanted get out and going. So I got my gun, mask, paintballs, and CO2 tank filled and quickly followed Oliver on to the field. (This is before I realized someone was going to give me pads a special shirt, and a body guard). I was nervous, but knew I was going to stick close to Oliver. That is… until he got shot right next to me. We were hiding behind a small building and taking on heavy fire. I had never heard such noises. Paintballs were hitting walls rapidly and zipping past my head. It was loud! We were pinned down and I couldn’t tell who was friendly and who I was supposed to be shooting. When Oliver got on the ground to shoot some rounds off he got hit pretty quickly. I was left all alone! Then some guy , who I think was on my team told me shoot at some hidden guy up front. As soon as I took a peak around the corner I got shot in the abdomen. I think it might have ricocheted off the building because it only stung a little. My shirt was a mess and I was out of the game. I don’t think I even got a shot off. I was too worried about shooting my own teammate. Everyone had masks and was in camouflage. It was hot and I was pooped!
The second time around, I was more prepared, but I still didn’t know who to fire at. I was stuck behind a tree and was just firing randomly from behind the tree with my bodyguard. Then what was supposed to be a “helicopter” came around and I was told to fire on it. So I started to unload on it. It must have gone behind one of my teammates because he told me to stop shooting him in the leg. (LOL!)I was just firing as many paintballs at the thing as I could. When I got back to the tents I didn’t even realize that my socks and shoes were covered in paint. Who would shoot at my feet, right? I was pretty unscathed though.
The best part of the day was when we got to unload paintballs on a bunch of unarmed volunteers running around a paintball course. I must have fired off 400 paintballs! An added bonus to the day was the M-16 marker I was given during the raffle. It’s pretty sweet looking and I can’t wait to use it next year.
Overall, meeting new people was the best part of the event. The organizers and the volunteers were really great. As a 15-year brain cancer survivor, I’ve been to several Relay for Life events and I have to say the Hell’s Survivor’s Benefit was by far more fun. It’s nice to have an alternative experience. I look forward to returning next year.