What I failed to understand as I get more exposure to charity events, is the relentless dedication of volunteers. It takes commitment and devotion to pull off a successful fund raising event. My past experiences with fundraisers has been that I pretty much just showed up, ran the race or wrote out a check.
When I was back in Rhode Island last month I witnessed utter selflessness from countless people. My dear friend Tara has a daughter with Rett Syndrome and was “hosting” her 3rd annual Race for Grace. Living in Arizona, I have felt pretty helpless in terms of helping Tara with the Race. She would religiously send updates on the goings on of coordination efforts, sponsorships, help needed, etc. Since I wasn’t involved, I was naïve as to what goes on behind the scenes. What I saw when I walked into the recreation room of St. Veronica’s church the day before the race was moving. I expected to walk in and see all our friends and Tara’s family working diligently setting up, planning, etc. Instead, I saw a sea of strangers doing all the work. Who the heck are these people? Where did they come from?
Every volunteer has a different story as to how they came to know Tara and David and why they wanted to help. Regardless of their path to get there, there is one common denominator, Grace! Grace moves everyone she touches, not with anything other than her smile and sheer presence. Grace makes you want to movemountains for her and give her the voice that she doesn’t haveI’ve participated in many fundraisers, events, fun runs, etc. over the past 20 years. . When I was over at Tara’s last week, I picked up Grace and she nuzzled her head in my neck and we stayed in that position, unmoved for a few minutes. It brought tears to my eyes because I felt that Grace was actually demonstrating an emotion, trying to tell me that she was comfortable with me. Whether that is the case or not, only Grace knows, but it moved me. Moments like that have moved hundreds of other people. Anyone that meets Grace and the whole Reddington clan, can’t help but be inspired.
So here I am, amongst these wonderful volunteers who probably didn’t even know Tara, David and Grace 3 years ago and they are dedicating their time, money and hearts to their cause. There I was, having known Tara and David for decades and I felt like I had nothing to offer. I just showed up, again, handing them a check and walked in the Race for Grace. I vow that next year will be different. I will not let strangers do the work of what I should have been doing all along, helping my best friend with her plight and struggle with Grace, helping them raise money to find a cure for this horrible disease.
The race was phenomenal! Thousands of people showed up on a rainy and chilly morning to donate money and time to the cause – Grace! I again, encourage you to get involved with any events such as this in your area. If there is a walk or a fun run – spend 2-3 hours of your time and a few bucks to participate. Most donation dollars go right to the foundation. Tara’s Race for Grace gives 100% of all donations to the International Rett Foundation, they keep nothing.