The ALS ice bucket challenge sweeping twitter and facebook had three things in common: a mission that mattered; familiarity with folks who issued the challenges; and the opportunity to participate in a world-wide fundraising event. For the Loyola student affairs staff the challenge brought together passionate Saint’s fans, who remembered the poignant graduation speech by Steve Gleason, and presented an opportunity to raise money for #No White Flags. www.teamgleason.org
Borrowing from one of my favorite Broadway soundtracks, Wicked, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Critics flew faster than flying monkeys to mock the many participating in the challenge, but make no mistake, raising more than a hundred million dollars for ALS made a difference to those that live with the devastating disease and those who care for them. It is interesting that many would choose to judge intentions rather than celebrate a successful campaign.
For most of us, philanthropy is a personal matter. We often don’t discuss the “who, what, when, where and how” of donating to the cause that tugs at our heart. We usually participate in philanthropic causes when the cause is somehow connected to us. I have not donated to ALS in the past, but because the challenge came to me from colleagues I respect I decided to participate, donate and enjoy the comradeship of staff and students. Standing on the front lawn of Loyola I remembered vividly the loving words Steve Gleason shared about his wife and child, and the mission, familiarity and opportunity came to life.
My parents both died of cancer when I was in my 30’s. I am drawn to wearing a pink bracelet in October, not out of some cliquish fad, but as a reminder. I donate in their names, but I wear the bracelet out of solidarity with others who have lost loved ones to cancer, and for those who fight on to regain their healthy life. So whether it’s the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Race for the Cure, or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s “Light Up the Night,” events are only avenues to bring the mission that matters home.