We conducted a fundraiser last week for one of our athlete’s; Tanya. She was born without any lower legs or fingers on both the right and left sides of her body. When she came in and started training with us she asked that she not receive any special treatment or exceptions. We have given her one and expect her to pull her weight, work hard and improve just like any other one of our athletes.
Tanya did not “loose” her appendages, she was not born with any. She lived downwind of Chernobyl in Belarus. Her siblings have none of the same deformities that she does. She was brought to the states so that she could seek the proper and adequate medical attention she needed, she has thrived here completing a Bachelors degree and becoming a big part of our little community off of 39th street West.
When we found out she needed a new knee to improve her performance and to allow her to continue to train the way that she has been we wanted to be a part of it. She objected at first, didn’t want to call attention to herself, didn’t want pity or charity. End the end she agreed and allowed us to put on an event and fundraiser for her. In the end n0t only did we raise more than enough money to get Tanya her new knee, we pulled off a great, well run and organized event that had more than a few moving parts to it; live and silent auction, raffle, drinks, entertainment and donations.
As important as it was to set a goal to help out Tanya and to make it happen my takeaway on things like this is a bit simpler. As a small group of people who care about the community and the people in that community they live in we sought out to do something about it and were able to engage those people around us. In doing so, we made a very real and authentic impact for the better in not just Tanya’s life but also solidified the relationships and commitment of the people we live with and amongst.
As often as we hear ourselves and those around us, the news and the constant influx of information telling us that the economy is failing, the environment is toxic, our food chain unsustainable, or moral fiber deteriorated, or work ethic gone and our in general our collective futures doomed because of a myriad of reasons. I find a ton of comfort and faith that we live in a world that is going to be just fine because of the people that are in it. The thing is you have to actually engage them and have real and authentic relationships with those people. Relationships via the internet or through the sterile filter of work simply do not count.
When I spoke at the event last night I stated the above and added to that it is easy to talk about what we want and to endorse it by clicking a button or even sharing it through various social media outlets. Though difficult to part with money, often times that is still much easier than giving of your time. It is something totally different to go out and make change and improvement in this world actually happen. It isn’t always a sleek and sexy, not every event can be a black tie affair, have big time money and philanthropist behind it. Sometimes, as most of those who would read a blog like this have experienced, it can be a lot of heavy lifting and selfless and tireless work. In the end though, it is always well worth it.
Thanks to all who gave, showed up and worked hard for a great event, your selfless generosity and in general being great people. The sky is not falling and we are not on a doomsday course with extinction. We better not be, we just spent a lot of money on a new knee to take us to bigger and better places.