Monday, May 24, 2010

Walking In Her Shoes ... (um, skates)


COLUMBUS, OHIO - For all the right reasons. ALL the right reasons. How many of us can say that we get up every day, leave the ones we love at home and plow through myriad minutia to do something for all the right reasons? Even if your profession is a noble one (oh, say cancer research, oncology nurse, hospice volunteer, kindergarten teacher with endless patience, etc.) how many of you know at the end of the day that everything you have done, no matter how exhausting, everything was for the right reasons?

I’ve found through my travels, both real and virtual, that very often when someone battles cancer, they (or their families) are drawn to do one of two things: write a book or create a foundation in their name. Both, I think, are to help preserve their names in perpetuity and to help others. It is sweet, and will make a lasting impression. My friend Carolyn is a cancer warrior, but has taken a decidedly different version of her life-script. I think you need to know about her.

She was a young woman and brilliant figure skater when she found her breast cancer, and battled it fiercely. After she endured chemo and six surgeries, she decided to make her focus in life a simple one: be a mommy to her precious daughter, a wife to her wonderful husband and raise money for breast cancer. Period. It’s clean, it’s easy to remember and it’s all for the right reasons. Her nonprofit organization is called Skate for Hope, and her commitment is staggering. Go look on her webpage – there are 2 sentences devoted to her struggles. TWO! The rest is focused on getting money to the hands of people trying to take care of this disease. She’s been nominated for awards, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for this cause, and yet remains one of the most humble and modest friends I have in this world. She is a quiet, gentle soul who is always smiling and calm up front but pedaling like mad in the back to make everything seamless.

She has created an event that allows the people to come see Olympic athletes in a tender and beautiful way, not only poignant but also totally accessible for even the most modest of incomes. These skaters donate their time (!! Come on, how often do you get to see that!) and many dedicate their skate to someone they love who has been touched by cancer. Not only are there stunning athletes, but Carolyn has been gracious enough to allow little skaters from across Ohio to enter the show. These little girls have no idea what a gift this really is – I’m sure to most of them it is a chance to display their talents or meet someone cool they’ve seen on TV. What they are really getting is hope. The hope and prayers of everyone attending that they will stay strong and healthy for the rest of their lives without ever having to worry about cancer.

I pray that all those little ones have no worries in their future beyond a Lutz and an Axel. I pray that as they participate in this show, their parents can look at them and instill just a portion of what Carolyn is trying to teach us all: that we are bigger than any show or any presentation. We are here to help each other, to care for one another, to build each other up. Life is far too short to be worried about anything other than being the nicest person in the room. And that if you are going to do anything in this world, be it a big production or just a little task, that we do it for all the right reasons.

1 comment:

Mary said...

My daughter is a figure skater and coach at Penn State University. She recently performed in their show in April 2010. She performed a beautiful program dedicated to her Aunt Linda Allen who lost her battle with breast cancer on December 22, 2009. She skated to Faith Hill's "There You'll Be". Before going to Penn State she skated with the Figure Skating Club of Greater Youngstown. Her performance was very moving and touched the hearts of everyone. Good Luck with your efforts and God Bless. shulikmj@gmail.com