There are a few attributes that largely define your mother’s identity (and I am sure you will come up with a few creative ones of your own). I am impatient. I have a big heart and a short fuse. I am Italian and Irish by heritage. And I am sick. But one thing I am not is powerless. I may not be in control of my illness, but I do wield control of my mind. And I am in a position to make a difference in the lives of others. That is why I write. This is why I volunteer. And it is why I commit so much of my energies towards fundraising for a cure.
As I gear up for my fourth season of fundraising for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, I find myself rebuilding that emotional shell that I have worn for the previous three seasons. Because, for whatever reason, fundraising is a dirty business. I was always warned to avoid the topics of “politics, money and religion” in conversation, but as I grew older and more ill, I began to notice that most people who follow this mantra are “Republican, rich and religiously fundamentalist.” Lobbyists, in their minds, decide where money should go, exorbitantly priced health insurance will take care of their most dire needs, and God will take care of the rest. But if they need money for a Tea Party campaign, watch out, because they will be knocking on your door.
The truth is, Eva, I hate asking people for money. It’s obnoxious. It’s crude. And it’s uncomfortable. But if there is one thing that can create cures for the many insidious illnesses affecting humanity, it’s cold hard cash. And someone has to be the one asking for it.
When I was diagnosed with this debilitating and chronic illness at the age of 17, I felt helpless. Depressed. Worthless. But then I realized there is hope. And the hope is inextricably woven into the fabric of research that is funded by the CCFA. It’s not just hope for me. It’s hope for the 1.6 million other Americans, and many millions more worldwide that suffer from these diseases. It is knowing that I have the power to help make a difference that salvages my mind. It is fundraising that turns my shit into pure gold.
To get right into the nitty gritty of it, you can’t know why I fundraise unless you have a reason to fundraise yourself. If your child was fed by a gastric tube and unable to attend school, like my friend Aiden, you would do everything in your power to make your son healthy again. If your best friend died from leukemia, you would raise hell to find a cure in her honor. And if your mother was dying of breast cancer, you would tirelessly walk 60 miles, 100 times over, if you knew it might ease her pain. And if you aren’t working like a slave to make a difference in the lives of your loved ones, or in your own life, then I suggest you start today. Because tears and fear are not the stuff that cures are made of.
Lastly, Evangeline, I fundraise for you. For you and the tens of thousands of children that will be diagnosed with IBD this year. You see, Eva, my disease is genetic. It doesn’t discriminate. And to any of you listening in, tomorrow it could be YOU or YOUR CHILD that I am fundraising for. Not one of us knows what the future might hold, but what I do know for sure is that our actions in the present are powerful. What we do, or what we don’t do today……it matters.
Click here to donate to Katie’s Crew 2015. And if you are working on a worthy cause, please share in the comments below. We are always actively looking for ways to make a real difference in this crazy world out there.