We are living in a world now where the anonymous donor is admired. All the random acts of kindness being done around the world and shared on social media are exploding. I personally love them and love doing them too. ISF has organized days of RAoK in Isabella’s name and they are such inspiring days to be a part of. I also love when we are able to help out families in times of need by paying mortgages in an effort to offer a little relief during hard times. No thank you necessary – we don’t need one from you. Our society is being taught that asking for a thank you is selfish and is only needed to boost one’s ego. Just do nice things because you can – and go on your way.
I have to say I’m a firm believer in this. I’m not waiting at my mailbox for a thank you note for a birthday gift and I’m not waiting in my kitchen for my family to thank me for cooking dinner. It’s not necessary for me and I didn’t think it was important, until someone thanked me.
We flew in on Thursday afternoon. I remember looking out my airplane window and saying, “It’s all white down there.” Grand Rapids was draped in snow and it sent chills down my body just looking at it. All I wanted to do was get in and out of this town as quickly as possible. I need to get pictures for social media to show where exactly our largest donation was being sent. We needed to do some hand shaking, introductions and hear more about what was going on in this snowy town. My expectations weren’t too high honestly. It was just another hospital visit.
The gratitude came in a little wave at first. I went for the handshake, and she went for the hug. It wasn’t a cold doctor hug; it was a real one – that honestly startled me a bit. We were treated to dinner with members of her staff and I could see the excitement in their eyes. We could ask anything we wanted and no conversation was off limits. The money we gave was turned around quickly and children were already on the trial and doing well. So well in fact that an iPhone came out at the table showing brain lesions of a current patient from a scan. Flip to the next picture and the brain lesions are gone. We heard words like cure, survival, collaboration and success. I left the dinner energized and wanting more, and that is just what we got.
The next day at the hospital was overwhelming. There was a crowd of employees waiting for us in the lobby who all wanted to shake our hands and say thank you. I know they were busy, but they stopped what they were doing to make sure they made us feel special. They honored our daughter and spoke of her as if they knew her. They talked about how thankful families of children battling cancer are to the work we do. Children will live longer and better lives because of our donation. Thank you from the doctors, the employees, the families, the children who are fighting and the ones being diagnosed tomorrow.
This whole experience got to me. I never thought I needed or wanted a thank you until I got one. It filled a bucket inside of me that I didn’t know needed to be filled. It made me feel like all the hours, days and weeks that we all spend doing this, was in fact making a difference. It wasn’t just checks in the mail and social media postings, it became something different. These people were honored to receive our hard earned donation and the smiles on their faces told that story.
Our tour through the facility continued much like the early morning greeting. Employees stopped what that were doing and got out of their chairs to come thank us and tell us how important this money was to them. I can’t tell you how many times we were thanked. Oddly, it was the first time I allowed myself to feel proud of the work we were doing. It also felt somehow different this time in terms of Isabella. This was not a business making a donation, this felt like a gift I was giving for the first time in her honor. It changed everything for me and it was all due to a thank you.
I wanted so badly for my employees, the members of the board, and everyone who has ever supported ISF to be there with us. It wasn’t Stuart and I that deserved that day of thanks. We never would have received these words without all of you. You all do it out of the kindness of your heart, not because you have a child fighting who needs the cure – you do it because you are amazing people. I’m so honored to know people like you and hope and pray that I am able to show you how thankful I am to you for helping us fund these treatments. I should be the one getting out of my seat and stopping what I’m doing to shake your hand and say thank you when I see you. I want you all to feel what I felt in Grand Rapids a couple of weeks ago. I want you to know that I’m humbled by your generosity and support. I’m grateful to you all for everything you do and hope that you are as excited as I am about where we are going and what we can accomplish, because of you.
I can only hope you feel cherished and thanked for all you do for ISF. It means the world to me.
Thank you all so very very much.