March 25, 2011

Building a Stronger Community: Giving Back

Most people that know me, know that I participate in the Komen 3-Day for the Cure every year. This event sends folks on a 3 day walk, covering 60 miles. An all-volunteer crew staffs the event, along with the small tour staff that travels from city to city coordinating the events. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I crew, sometimes I do both. This year I am going to walk in Boston in July and then crew in Michigan a couple of weeks later.

Someone invariably asks me why I do the Breast Cancer 3-Day every year. After all, when I started in 2002, I knew very few friends or family that had ever had breast cancer. (Although, tragically, the number of friends with the disease grows every year.) I think that's beside the point. Why wouldn't I help raise money and awareness for breast cancer? EVERYONE has breasts (yes, men have to worry about it too). This event not only helps fund research for better treatments (and hopefully, someday, a cure), but it also helps to fund programs that assist underserved men and women in getting testing and medical attention.

The 3-Day has become a very special event for me. Now that I participate, I have many friends who are survivors or are fighting at this very moment. And even if I didn't know a single person who had been affected in some way by breast cancer, wouldn't it be enough to want to do something positive? Wouldn't it be enough to want to contribute to something larger than one's self? Wouldn't it be enough to want to be a part of something so optimistic in our highly cynical world? I think it is and that is why I participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day.

How you choose to give back is entirely up to you. It doesn't have to be a physical event. You could volunteer at a nursing home, hospital or school. You could volunteer at one of the physical events. You could donate money to a cause that is close to your heart. You could simply offer a kind word and a granola bar to the homeless man you pass every day on the way to work. Even children can get involved. My son has three piggy banks and one is his "Donate" bank. He gets to decide what gets done with that money. His favorite is adopting a child around Christmas time.

Every gesture, big or small, makes a difference to someone. And, I think you'll be amazed at how much you gain by giving.


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