Thursday, April 29, 2010

Give and then Give Again

Charity is a funny thing.

Not a ha-ha kind of funny. But "it's-amazing-how-when-life-sucks-people-can-be-so-darn-good" kind of funny.

Six years ago I founded a charity based in Boston that has done fairly well, as these things go.

It's a one night event, held every spring and well known in our industry (the industry I work in that keeps me in shoes and also supports my vacation addiction). Actually it's not only the largest charitable event but it also boasts the highest attendance of any single event for our industry in New England.

I'd like to say it's me - that I brought it to where it is today. But you know what? I'd be lying. It's not about me. I am so not the draw.

The beneficiary is not a faceless organization, a scholarship or some kind of foundation.

It's a person.

Every year it's someone different. Someone we all know. Or someone we've heard of. Or someone we don't know who works with someone else we do know.

That guy.

He's the draw.

It's a lot of work, this one night event. People go out of their way to attend, flying in from Vegas and Dallas and Atlanta. Driving up from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Reaching deep in their pockets, even if it means emptying them out.


Every year I am grateful for their support. And sadly, I am grateful to God that I get to stand on my side of the microphone. It takes a lot to hold back the tears as we talk about why we're here. Why we're really here.

And sometimes I just go ahead and cry anyway.

Because this event, this one night of support and friendship and love, won't take away the cancer. Or the kidney failure. Or the loss of a loved one.

Tonight's event was a lot of work and it's not over yet. It will be frustrating at times. It will be hectic and chaotic. And it will be fun for me too, at some point, and hopefully for everyone there as well.

Then finally, at the end of the night I will go home with sore feet, a raspy voice and desperately in need of sleep knowing what little I could do, I did.

And it's so worth it - when I see his face, that guy who we all came out to honor and support, there's that split second when the realization will hit him.

I see it every year and if I had to put words to the expression it would be something like - "Wow, these people are here for me. I didn't ask and yet, here they are. Some I've known for years and some I've just met but... these people, these are my people."

You know what Caleb?

You may have cancer but you also have us.

And we'd kick cancer's ass from here to the moon for you if we could.

Because you're right, dude. We are your people.


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Anonymous said...

Well said. It is always such an honestly, genuinely humbling experience to witness the reaction of this community that keeps you in shoes and me in...well, everything. Such a kind, compassionate group of people, overall, that it's quite something to see.

Caleb is someone with whom I've never spoken. But he's someone almost everyone else knew! And I hope he reads this because I can't tell him how many people spoke so well of him. He's definately The Guy for many folks with whom he's spoken over the years and I know The Love was flowing last night.

And while love doesn't conquer all it surely does help!