Making a Difference

On Tuesday I signed up with the Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Despite what my official fundraising page says, my actual fundraising goal is $3200 for the race I’m likely to be switching to, which is the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. I was optimistic – and frankly, the info meeting was extremely pursuasive. I mean, one of the guys raised $10,000! Another guy has friends begging him to hold more charity events for them to give money!

It began to sink in. I don’t have a lot of local friends that have a lot of money to spend. They’re mostly artists, self-employed types, unemployed or incurable do-gooders who make little money, if any. While a charity pub crawl might be fun (and they’d probably all get behind it), being able to front the cash is another story. Looking through the fundraising tips, I don’t see a lot that fit my personality or style (or would work with people I know.) It all starts being a little deflating.

The LLS offers a lot of incentives to raise money, including a most-expenses paid trip to awesome locales. Not to mention the schwag.

But that’s just stuff. I don’t need stuff. I want to make a difference.

Then I talked to friend of mine who does my hair. A friend of hers is going through his second bout with a cancer that the LLS offers support. He’s a person of little means, and will likely be losing insurance soon. A former employer has actually kept him on the insurance rolls through his remission, even though he’s employed elsewhere. His former employer also held a benefit night that got him over $10,000 in assistance.

Then it clicked – research and stuff (but mainly research) is a good thing for a foundation to raise money for – caveat being that this research is heavily tainted by the pharmaceutical companies and medical technology industry. Also – pragmatically, there is the question of quality of life – finding a cure is one thing, but enhancing the quality of life for someone who is dying, whose clock is ticking, is there support for that research? Is there something better we can offer people dying of cancer than morphine, benzodiazepines and Benedryl?

At the Team in Training meeting, we were handed a packet of stuff to go over, included being a few profiles of people who are fighting a type of blood cancer. I wonder, did the LLS help these individuals, on a personal level, as much as my friend’s friend’s former employer? Big foundations are one thing, and appreciated – but me? I like working on the personal level.

Perhaps this year’s goal should be, instead, to give of myself charitably to a small organization, to an individual or group, to help increase their ability to enjoy life, and decrease their suffering.

This may mean I drop out of the TnT – I can’t fathom being able to gather together $3200 the same way I became aware last year that MLM companies like Mary Kaye aren’t for me. It’s not dissing on the product – but on the way it syncs with who I am.

And I, above all, am compelled to be true to myself.