I'm not going to dwell much longer on last weekend's Relay for Life because what's done is done. Except to say that it was awesome. It was cold and rainy and windy and that had little effect on the hale and hearty folks who spent their time and energy making a difference for cancer research.
It was my first time spending a significant amount of time on this charity event. And, apparently, this extravaganza has gathered quite a bit of steam and generated lots of interest and revenue from all over the world. I totally understand it also. I got to meet amazing people, get some much-needed exercise, do the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey. What's not to love about a weekend like that?
I'm no stranger to charity events and fundraising. I've been doing it for years and it's a rewarding, if tiresome, activity. If you have an ounce of humanity floating around in your DNA, you probably have done some kind of charity work in your life. As children, we're taught to tithe at our churches; give canned goods to the hungry; drop some change into the Salvation Army bucket or a bag of used clothing to the Goodwill. Some of us did it by rote. We weren't sure why we were dropping coins or canned goods - but our parents, teachers or ministers convinced us it was the right thing to do.
It is only after we become adults and earn our own money and pay our own taxes that we make our own conscious decisions to give to others who are suffering, hungry, sick or otherwise deficient in life's bounty. And that's what separates the men from the boys.
So when you live on a budget and have to stretch your own dollars to make ends meet, it becomes difficult to find the extra pennies or dollars to donate to those with even less. But many of us find a way to do it. Somehow. And every bit helps.
And, those of us who don't have the bulging bank accounts to underwrite a lavish fundraiser or build a wing on the new hospital find other ways to donate.
We gather donations, make phone calls, create silent auction and raffle prizes, decorate, set up and break down event stages and sets. In other words, we contribute time and elbow grease. The world definitely needs the folks who can write the big checks. The world also needs the worker bees.
Which brings to mind a conversation I had last week with a well known and well loved local (to Lodi) practitioner. I've had the utmost respect for this person since I met him and that opinion changed drastically last week.
He asked my plans for the weekend. Small talk, he does this with everyone. I told him I was taking part in the Relay for Life. He gently harrumphed and said he didn't much care about that stuff.
Me: "Why? It's a great event. Lots of community involvement. Raises lots of money for cancer research."
Him: "Well. My mother died of cancer and ... I ... just don't like to think about it."
Me: "All the more important for you to think about it. It's very likely genetic."
Him: "I guess I just like to keep my head buried in the sand. Don't like to think about it."
Well. Good Lord Almighty. That's just wrong. Here's a guy who can easily write the big check. Doesn't have to get his hands dirty because there are plenty of us out there to get the check where it will do the most good. But he "doesn't want to think about it."
This man has children whose grandmother died of cancer. I'm pretty sure he should "think about it."
But - that's just me. I do what I can do to help people who can't do so much for themselves. I'm no saint. But I'm grateful for my health and the fact that my bills are paid. If I can help even a little bit by dropping some change in a bucket or doing the Hokey Pokey with a bunch of kids on a rainy Saturday, I consider myself blessed.
And I'll continue to "think about it."