Stories of Grace & Beauty #1

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It has been almost two years since I started fundraising for Oligo research.  In round numbers, my family’s efforts have raised close to $200,000, which is a startling number when I think about it.

But, the truth is that this number says much more about the people who have responded to my call for help than it does about me.

I always held a good opinion of people.   However, over the past few years I have had to revise—up, way up—my beliefs in this area.  Throughout my fundraising efforts, so many people have done truly extraordinary things that I could never have anticipated. 

And are these incredible acts have been limited to the “usual suspects”(i.e. family and close friends).  No, far from it. 

People I haven’t seen in decades and complete strangers have answered our call for help in many different ways.  I can think of dozens of examples of this, but let me share just one with you today.

This story captures, as well as any, why I have such faith that we can make the Oligo research effort successful. It started when I went to my college reunion for the first time in 20 years. At our class dinner, a good friend of mine was about to address the 150+ people there, when he turned to me and asked, “Do you mind if I mention your situation?” I said sure. At the end of his talk on why it is important to support the college financially, he said “but there are more important things to give to than Colgate” and then he told my family’s story.

Later that night, Jeff, a classmate that I hadn’t seen in 25 years, came up to me and was clearly moved by my family’s story (and maybe the wine) and said several times “I have to do something.”  I assured he I would let him!  As soon as I got home, I received an email from Jeff saying that he wanted to host a golf tournament near his home in Connecticut.  I provided him with the background information on my family’s situation and our fundraising efforts to-date, as well as my contact at the National Brain Tumor Society.

Jeff, with some help from several other classmates, put together a fun and beautiful event that I attended with my older son Zach in October 2012.  There was also a silent auction that included some unique items contributed by various people.  Of course, it was great to spend some time with some of my friends and classmates.  But roughly 20 of the 60 people that attended were people I hadn’t met before.   

This first-year golf tournament raised over $25,000 for Oligo research.  Friends came from as far away as Chicago and Pittsburgh. A former fraternity brother I hadn’t seen since graduation wrote a $10,000 check. And my favorite moment was after I gave a little thank you talk at the dinner one of the waiters thrust five $20 bills into my hand. Incredible.

What does this story tell us? 

First, people are capable of incredible acts of kindness and commitment.  Second, you can’t know who these people will be in advance.  They will not be limited to your closest friends and family.  And, finally, it shows the critical importance of telling your story and making the world aware of the need for help. 

In fact, getting your story out is the catalyst that allows these other things to happen.

I’d love to hear any similar experiences you’ve had. Even if you only have a second to share or a small act of kindness to relate, we'd love to hear from you. 


About the author: Brock Greene