Six years ago, the Nintendo Wii came out. As someone who was raised with Mario and Zelda, I was first in line at the game store to get the new video game console. As I'm also Computerworld's youngest editor, I didn't share this interest with many co-workers, but I nonetheless brought the Wii to our annual editorial retreat, figuring it would be a novelty.
Sure enough, the intuitive way in which the Wii's tennis and bowling games are played made it a hit. As he tried the bowling game himself, one co-worker, Mark Hall, commented that his late mother, an avid bowler, would probably have lived longer had she been able to enjoy her favorite sport in this low-impact, risk-free fashion. I empathized, saying that I hoped my mother would similarly enjoy the Wii, since she's not as physically active since being diagnosed with MS.
Mark paused his swing and looked at me. "My wife has MS," he said — not a secret, but not one we expected to have in common.
Although I was still Computerworld's newest hire, had just met Mark and had never met his wife Cathie, and had been doing the MS Challenge Walk for only two years at that point, I boldly solicited them in my fundraising efforts, sending them a letter that concluded, "I am truly grateful for your support and feel fortunate to be able to walk the paths of Cape Cod for those who cannot." What I received in return was more valuable than any impact on my bottom line.
I have noted on this blog and in person what I first do when I receive someone's donation in the mail: I look not at the value of the check, but at the donor's words of encouragement. Every year, Cathie — whom to this day I have still not met — takes a deeply personal and generous perspective that she shares in a note enclosed with her donation. With her permission, I am sharing her letter this year:
A transcript of the above scan follows:
I am compelled to echo your own words, in your fundraising letter:
"I am truly grateful…" for your and others' consistent MS fundraising efforts and participation in MS Challenge Walk(s)!!!!! Year after year.
"I feel fortunate…" to have been the beneficiary of consistent support & aid from family, friends, and even strangers during my 30 years face-to-face with MS; to have a life better than I imagined it would be.
I send you Mark's and my contribution to your 2012 Cape Cod 50-mile Challenge Walk for MS; our very best wishes for perfect walking weather, Sept. 7—9; and my deep, heartfelt appreciation for all you do to defeat MS!
I am humbled and awed by the spirit of individuals such as Cathie. It is for heroes like them that I am glad to walk, peddle, and cheer my way across Cape Cod time and time again, until it is no longer necessary.
Ken, a Framingham resident, joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also on the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.