The Relay Refresh RoadTrip made two stops this week to visit with two amazing Relayers. Just about everyone in Second Life knows Adam and Ari Spark. Him in Newfoundland and her in West Virginia, together Adam and Ari bring such joy and happiness to anyone who is close to them and to everything they do together. They are each other’s biggest supporters. Together they are A Team Entertainment, co-managers of live artist’s Savannah Coronet, Chris Quan and TG Mortale.
Most everyone knows that Ari is currently battling breast cancer. She just finished several months of chemotherapy and soon will be starting five weeks of radiation therapy with Adam “virtually” right there by her side. Adam too lives with physical challenges of his own dealing with spina bifida. We were so happy they could take some time between Ari’s treatments to visit with us and share their story - one of strength, commitment and positivity to one another and to Relay For Life of Second Life.
Ari lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, home of West Virginia University, and Adam lives way north of there, across the border in Canada, a few doors down from Santa Claus in St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. And yes, his Newfie accent sneaks in every once in a while.
It all started in the spring of 2010 with Savannah Coronet crooning in the background. Ari managed Savannah’s club and Adam hosted for Savannah’s live music shows. And in a truly serendipitous moment they met and have been together ever since making the grid a better place. Adam arrived on noob island over eleven years ago after seeing a Reuters news clip. Ari arrived over eight years ago after hearing about Second Life from a friend.
Both use Galaxy android phones. Both use Windows 10 desktop computers. And for being inworld for as long as they have, both have well managed inventories. Adam told us he has 18,675 items in his inventory and Ari has just a few more coming in at 19,880. When asked about a funny noob story, Adam described himself as a “perpetual noob” and some days the “oldest noob on the grid”. As we laughed about the noob things we all still do, Ari confessed to recently wallpapering their house with “a TRUTH hair chart”.
As the conversation turned to music, we asked them about their favorite songs. After we all laughed knowing Savannah Coronet sings all of their favorite songs, Adam told us his anthem is The Ones That Like Me by Brantley Gilbert. Ari shared a few songs that are her current favorites and have helped her get through the last few months - Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson and Warrior by Hannah Kerr.
When asked about their favorite musicians, we all laughed knowing it was again Savannah Coronet. Adam added Eric Church and Ari chimed in with AC/DC. Ari also shared a heartwarming story about how grateful she
was to Naughty, a Second Life live artist, for recording two of his live shows and sending them to her during her chemo. When it comes to TV Ari is currently enjoying Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, while Adam is happy Will and Grace has returned to network TV. He was a big fan before and is once again.
Adam and Ari point to each other when asked who makes you laugh. Just “Adam being Adam” can make Ari laugh. She calls him a “goofball” and recounted how his stories from the grid have kept her laughing during her chemo and all the time she has been offline. Ari makes Adam laugh “because she is funny” and we all laughed as he told us about her singing along to Jason Aldean’s song She’s Country and messing up the line “crazy mother trucker”. We assured them we would not expound on this funny moment, but it is iconic of their collective humor. The two of them had us laughing for most of the visit.
Once again they pointed to each other when asked about their hero. Adam is Ari’s hero for many reasons but she shared with us how he helped her through her dad’s passing from esophageal cancer as he too lost his dad the year before. She credits this with bringing them closer together as a couple. Ari is Adam’s hero because of how strong she has been in her battle with breast cancer. He says “she is one tough lady”. Adam also talked about Rick Hanson, who like Adam is in a wheelchair. In March 1985, Rick Hansen set out on the Man in Motion World Tour which set the stage for his life’s work - a journey that opened the eyes of the world to the potential of people with disabilities, an inclusive world where they are living to their full potential. Adam shared with us that Rick’s journey literally came across his driveway and he got to shake his hand.
Adam and Ari have been involved in Relay For Life of Second Life since 2010. Ari was attending Caregiver meetings on American Cancer Society Island and shared that with Adam. From that point they have been involved in Relay together. They “freelanced” for a few years, going to events, donating to kiosks, helping out where needed and when they could. But they wanted to do more and decided to form a team to pull in their family and friends. Three years ago they formed Friends For A Cure, a small but powerful team, comprised mainly of “family and friends” they are close to in their Second Life.
They hold several events each year and a few of their hallmark events include an all day music gala, a large DJ event, and an event they started, using the bid me bald concept, but instead doing a Bid Me Pink event. Their Bid Me Pink event includes setting a goal for fundraising, and once that goal is met, they turn their hair pink for a predetermined amount of time. They continue to attend other team events, and they love working with other teams.
Relaying is personal for both Adam and Ari. They Relay for their fathers and SL friends they have lost, among them Molly Masingh. They also Relay for their SL sister, Dametria Puhpow, a cancer survivor who they call “family”. Adam also relays for his Mom who is a nearly 5-year breast cancer survivor.
When asked about their favorite parts of Relay, Ari was quick to say the Luminaria Ceremony during Relay Weekend. She remembers her first one and realizing how just listening to the names being read, thinking about “loss and survival” was so powerful. Adam loves the one team mentality that is Relay, everyone working towards a common goal. A group of people who know this is not about “any one individual... it is bigger than that...” Adam particularly likes walking the track on Relay Weekend and “having amazing conversations and hearing the stories of survival”. He always comes away from the weekend knowing that “we have come so far, but still have so far to go”.
Adam and Ari Spark are an amazing couple. Two wonderful people who are flat out committed to each other. They bring a powerful positive message wherever they go inworld. They are proof that laughter is good medicine. It is impossible to be around them and not share in their joy and passion for life. Their strength is palpable as they face real life challenges together in their Second Life. Using words from one of their recent FaceBook posts, Adam and Ari dream it, believe it and achieve it.
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