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Friday, September 2, 2011

Mighty Community

 The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
William James 

Almost 3 weeks ago I announced I'd be volunteering as a crew member for the 2011 Kidney March. If however I raised enough money, I would instead opt to march. I gave myself about a week to raise at least half in order to make the choice. I was fairly certain I could raise more than $300 (required to be crew) but $2200 seemed daunting, especially when I did the math on how many people would have to donate how much money (ie 44 people @ $50, 110 people @ $20). But you don't get anywhere if you don't try right?

Being the online communicator that I am, I sent out two emails-one to family members I hoped would sponsor me and another to friends and select co-workers who had shown an active interest in my kidney donation and recovery. I shared a blog post about the Kidney March and my intentions on Facebook and Twitter.

In under a week I was over the $1000 mark. By the end of the second week (with a few more tweets and Facebook posts under my belt) I was rapidly approaching the $2000 mark. I hung out there for a bit and then it happened. I did it-I had raised $2200 in under 3 weeks. Wowsers. But it really wasn't me. It was my community. My mighty, wonderful, online village. Sure, many of the people that donated I know and see in person. But  the conversation, connection and commitment happened all online. Which I think is pretty amazing.

What is more amazing though is simply how generous and supportive so many people were. I cannot begin to express my thanks and gratitude-not just for the money that was shared so easily-but for the kind wishes and the words of encouragement. For the sharing and promoting to their friends about what I was trying to do. You really do feel like you can do anything when your "village" so to speak is standing behind you, cheering you on. I knew I would have some support from certain people-but there was so much unexpected support too. Here is what my mighty community looks like:

My very first donor was a total stranger to me. She does however have a strong connection to the kidney community and is a Kidney March participant as well. I had other "strangers" step forward and sponsor me as well. With a little digging to find out who they were, I found that most had a strong , vested interest in the Kidney Foundation because of a family member touched by kidney disease. They had learned about me through my blog and were happy to support. One stranger though had no connection-he told me he just believes in supporting people who support the communities they live in. Awesome.

I had a fabulous group of coworkers sponsor me. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, my co-workers and employer in general were extremely supportive of my decision to donate "Leftie". Many of those same people stepped forward to sponsor me in the Kidney March. But there were also surprises.  Two donations came from people I hadn't even asked and to be honest-we don't see eye to eye on much at work (that is me being polite). But I guess our hearts are in the same place. For me that was a reminder that just like a "village" our communities aren't always made up with people who support everything about us-but they come forward when they do. Also cool were the number of former co-workers who not only cheered me on when I had my surgery, but did so again with this march.

I have many friends, old, new, American, Canadian who also came forward. I had high school friends I haven't seen in 17 years donate-on the flip side I had people I just met at a #SMBYYC breakfast 10 days ago give as well. And all the wonderful people in the middle.

And finally there was my family. In laws, birth family and family-family. Aunts, an uncle, a cousin and  two moms. Oh and yes, of course my brother (he'd be perturbed by a lack of mention).
Forty people. Forty mighty people. You helped me accomplish something I wasn't entirely sure was in my reach. Your faith in me and your generosity will power me through three days of marching, and help me step every step I need to walk that 100km.

Thank you. So much.



PS...sorry to  "Sally" for wearing my emotive hat today


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