Saturday, February 28, 2009

What being a Champion means to me.

This week and for the second time, my wife Gail and I were invited to participate in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Tour of Champions. This annual event is the Society’s way of honoring and acknowledging its top fundraisers from around the country….but the truth is that the event is actually much more than that.

Firstly, it is like being at a re-union. We were thrilled to see so many of the people that we met at last year’s Tour of Champions.Some we had stayed in touch with and some not. But in all cases, we were happy to see so many of the same people again.

Secondly, and I have to believe that everyone there felt the same way, seeing everyone and being a part of this community, is tremendously inspiring. There are healthy people without MS, who got involved just because they care. There are others who are severely impaired or impacted by the disease, with little ability to move or speak, who show up and participate, and become Champions, just because they can. Everyone there has a story and a reason why they do it. Everybody there cares.

We became Champions by participating in the MS Walk. We let people know what we are doing and the response has been tremendous. What we learned from our experience is that:

People want to participate and make a difference.
They just don’t know what to do. Inviting them to join us for the Walk gave them something to do. The National MS Society hosts more than 500 Walks from coast to coast giving tens of thousands an opportunity to join in.

If everybody does a little, eventually a lot gets done.
It is not about giving large sums of money. It is about getting people to participate in the cause. The more participants we have, the more attention we bring to the cause. More attention and awareness brings in more money. More money is what will bring a cure.

If we are not asking, we are not giving people that opportunity.
Asking people for help can be one of the toughest things we ever have to do. I know because my disability requires me to do it everyday. But if we don’t ask, we are depriving people of the chance to help and everybody wants to help.

The “Tour” is an opportunity to meet people from all over the country who are making a difference in the world. Each one of the participants, perhaps by their nature as top fundraisers, is warm, friendly, kind, determined and an inspiration. Many of them (Leon, Wendy, Alan, Elizabeth, Barney, Jeanne, Debbie and so many more) we now call our friends.

Several months ago I wrote about “The Disability Paradox.” ( ) In that blog entry I discussed how this community of “people with such limited ability” are able to do so much more than many able bodied people do. I theorized that the reason for this was because they care so much about the cause itself. Now, having attended the Tournament twice, I am certain that is true.

How much these people care about the cause is what makes them so extraordinary. I am a firm believer that caring matters more than anything else. It is what drives this group to make a huge difference in the world around them and around all of us.

These Champions are a community. They have become our friends and allies. As a group we all have something in common …..working to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, a worthy cause. Being a part of that community is something that we hope to always do.

My advise is this: Become a Champion. Find a cause that you really care about, get involved and make a difference. It doesn’t matter how much you do or how much you raise. It only matters that you care enough to participate and make a difference. That is the real definition of a Champion.

You can always join us. We would love to have your participation and support. Just click here:

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Always expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed.

Recently, and not for the first time, someone said to me, "Always expect the worst and you will never be disappointed." That is a heck of a statement, isn't it? I know that they meant well and what they were really saying is that they hoped that I could avoid the pain so often associated with disappointment.
The fact is that there are many people who approach life from this perspective and although there is an element of truth to it, it is not a truth that I want to live by.

I always hope for and expect the best. If things don’t work out as I had originally hoped or expected, than I figure that there must be reason for it and look to learn from the event itself. Am I ever disappointed? Sure. But disappointments are one of the ways we learn and one of life’s ways of teaching us.’ When we are able to maintain a perspective of learning from all of life’s events, then we can see the value in each of our disappointments too.

“Always expecting the worst” deprives one of the opportunity to learn. If one expects the worst, then what is to be gained from not getting it? Nothing.

When one expects the worst, they are also deprived of another opportunity and that is the opportunity for “HOPE”. “Hope” may be one of the best experiences available to us in life. It is what dreams are made of. It is what lands people on the moon and cures diseases and ends wars. It is a driving force that shapes lives, builds futures and makes our world a better place. “Hope” is what happy people have and do.

Hope encourages us. Expecting the worst does not. Hope energizes us. Expecting the worst does not. Hope uplifts us and the people around us. Expecting the worst does not.

Disappointment teaches, builds character and is quite often the best thing that could happen to us. Expecting disappointment or expecting the worst does not offer these benefits.

I certainly understand why people hate to be disappointed. But you know what may be worse than being disappointed? Missing any opportunity for hope and learning that life has to offer.

Putting it another way, “always expecting the worst” may be one of the worst things you could do.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What has three million toes and walks more than a million miles each year?

We do.

The biggest event that we participate in each year is the MS Walk. We have a team, the JIGGYWIGGITS, and this is our third year of being in the Walk. With our family and friends, we have been able to accomplish great things. In fact, we have twice been recognized as among the Top 100 fundraisers in the country. Last year I was also recognized as the “Most Inspirational Walker” at the Greater L.A. area Walk around the Rose Bowl. Personally, I don’t know if I am the most inspirational or not. What I do know is that I am inspired.

Participating in this event has taught me a few things. They are:

Almost everybody wants to help. Most people just don’t know what they can do.
If everybody does a little, eventually a lot gets done.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So I am asking you to help. I am asking you to donate. There are no small donations. I am asking you to join a Walk. In the next few months there will be more than 500 Walks taking place all across America. Even if you truly cannot afford a $5 or $10 donation, walk anyway. More walkers mean that we are bringing attention to this disease and increased awareness is a first step. Besides, I will bet you $5 that you know at least two people who will give you $10 if you do the Walk ! Now that’s progress.

Walk because you can.
Walk because somebody else can’t.
Walk to make a difference in the world.

Join or donate to our team, the JIGGYWIGGITS
If you live in Southern California, than join us. We have fun, we have food and we are one of the largest teams at the event. If you can’t be with us, please support us in reaching this year’s Team Goal of $ 50,000.