Monday, May 18, 2009

Fun Racers

When I told my son-in-law I'd run across many Leukemia and Lymphoma victims, at first he thought I literally ran across them! (I am a bit of a clumsy runner!)And we seriously almost did trample a few people last weekend as we ran through the streets of Denver doing crazy stunts, solving puzzles, and scavenging for things like an oncologist's business card or pina colada ingredients. We were participating in the Mile High Amazing Race! Here's a photo of me with my teammates posing with some bald mannequins -- one of the many items on our list of things to do. This is the third year of the race and it is, without a doubt, the best race ever. I absolutely love the fact that it combines three of my favorite things: crazy competition, fun, and raising money for a good cause!

Knowing that one of the checkpoints would be dedicated to fund-raising, I asked if we could come to the race with donations in hand. Sun Microsystems (where I work) will double any employees contributions with their matching gifts program and I wanted to take full advantage of that. The race director said, "Absolutely!"

Our first donation was $500 from a friend who's son is in remission. I have run several events for Leukemia and Lymphoma, and each time this man -- someone I barely know -- has donated $500 for the cause. Last year, I'd apologized for asking him...I didn't want him to think I always expected $500 or was taking advantage of his generosity. He said, "I'd be upset if you DIDN'T ask me!" He not only donates, but then forwards my email on to his family who also donates!

This attitude was so inspiring to me that I decided this year I would raise at least another $500 and challenged my teammates to do the same. Even though many of us are facing layoffs, people opened up their wallets and their hearts. Our team of four raised over $3500 for Leukemia and Lymphoma in less than one week!

As we handed in our stash at the fund-raising checkpoint, we brought tears to the eyes of one woman as she gave us hugs for our efforts. And when we got to the checkpoint where we met the survivors -- the little kids who have been struggling with Leukemia and their parents -- we felt proud that we were able to make a difference. (And, Chris, we did not run across them, run into them, or run over them. We just got to play with them.) It is so easy to take our health for granted, but when you see the victims and the families, you just want to do whatever you can do to help.

I think fund-raising is something everyone should do with pride. Too often, we are afraid to ask for money -- afraid of putting people on the spot. It's uncomfortable. But unless you ask, you don't get to experience the incredibly generosity of others. You don't get to know how absolutely heart-warming it is when people give freely. If you ever have a chance to do fund-raising, don't apologize or feel embarrassed about asking people to help. Feel proud and excited! And when you're on the other side, feel honored at being asked! There is no way that any of us can contribute money every time we're asked for a donation, but we can always smile and say 'good luck.'

To all of you that have donated and supported me in my many fund-raising efforts, you will never know how deeply moved and grateful I am for your generosity. Whether it's a 'good luck' wish or $500, it truly does make a difference. It has changed my life. And it's saved the life of others.

Thank You