Did you know that April 29th is World Wish Day? It all started with just one wish. One little boy’s wish. All these non-profits started with a dream, a purpose…a wish, and the Make A Wish Foundation began….the exact same way…with just one wish.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation® traces its beginning to one boy’s wish, 7-year-old Chris Greicius was being treated for leukemia. Little Chris dreamed of becoming a police officer and on April 29, 1980 a few special people decided to make his wish come true. A police helicopter picked him up and the officers had a custom police uniform made for him and arranged a motorcycle test so he could earn wings to pin on his uniform.
On May 2, Chris was back in the hospital and not well. He asked to arrange the room so he could always see his new police uniform, his motorcycle helmet and his “Smokey Bear”-style hat. DPS motor officer, Frank Shankwitz, presented Chris with his motorcycle wings. He accepted them with a smile that lit up the room.
The following day, Chris passed away, but not before seeing his dream come true and experiencing the hope, strength and joy that came from receiving his wish. The police officers and Chris’s mom thought that if one boy’s wish could create such happiness, maybe they could do the same for other children. They presented the plan to the people who helped grant Chris’ wish. In that moment, the Chris Greicius Make-A-Wish® Memorial – which later became known as the Make-A-Wish Foundation® – was born.
So, on Sunday, April 29th Make a wish and know that dreams do come true everyday…at least every 38 minutes this foundation is granting them. Charity Matters.
As April’s Autism month comes to an end, I thought I would share the remarkable story of our friends, the Gott family. Jim and Cathy Gott’s son, Danny, was diagnosed with autism as young child. The Gotts lived the battle of therapies, the challenges of adolescence and then the reality of what happens to their son as an adult? What happens to adults with autism?
The Gott’s faith, love and tenacity knows no bounds and they were determined to create a place that not only helped their son live a fulfilling life as an adult with autism but helped others as well. That very special place is Danny’s Farm.
Danny’s Farm’s is much more than a petting zoo. It is a place that brings joy and purpose to adults with autism as well as to young children. As Cathy said, “My hope as a parent is to inspire others to harness their children’s passion.” Danny’s passion was animals and when Danny was 15 they began planning a legacy for him and other adults with autism.
The mission is to provide meaningful employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities and to serve children, ages 5-17 years old, by providing experiences through the farm’s Specialty Autism Program.
Cathy said, ” Everybody needs a job and a purpose. I challenge the corporate community to open their hearts to hire just one person with a developmental disability. I think they would be surprised what value it can bring to an organization.”
Jim and Cathy’s mission began as a journey with their child but has grown into a beautiful place that brings joy to so many. Today they are employing adults with disabilities, taking their mobile petting farm on the road and empowering adults with disabilities with purpose and passion.
When I asked Cathy what inspired her, the response was,” The community that supports us and our employees, it’s just so beautiful to watch them do their job.” Its a complete circle of caring.
I have a confession to make, and to those of you that know me, this will not come as a surprise….but I love reading my horoscope. I think of it as a helpful road map that often readjusts my course for the day and since I have a horrible sense of direction it can be quite helpful. So the other day when this appeared I loved the message and thought it applied to all of us, not just Gemini’s.
You will likely help all who need your aid without hesitation today, even when you must put aside your own concerns to focus on those of others in order to do so. A benevolent mood can guide your thoughts and actions, pointing you toward opportunities to act charitably in your home, your workplace, and out on the town.
You may be surprised to discover today that your kindhearted approach to life inspires the people you meet to behave more charitably. Even if you never see the effects your helpfulness has had on others, your environment, or the world at large, you can be confident that you are making a difference by simply endeavoring to live in accordance with your values.
The simplest way to spread a charitable message among all those with whom we interact is to freely offer assistance whenever we encounter someone who might benefit from our help. Though we often associate philanthropy with the transfer of resources such as possessions or money, the greatest resource we have in our charitable arsenal is our willingness to be there for individuals in need.
Whether our lives are rich or poor, we can give others the gift of our benevolence, thereby proving to all we come into contact with that anyone can make a difference.
We not only benefit others by being helpful; we also share a message of goodwill that they then spread by adopting a similarly altruistic attitude. Your innate goodness will give you the means to share the joy of charity with others today.
We all get a little lost sometimes so I hope this map gives you some direction today, I know it certainly helped me.
I happened to be watching the Today show the other morning and caught these four young men discussing their “Bucket list” and their new book called What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?.
What struck me most, was when they said they were lost until they realized their purpose in making a difference for others. While this may not be my generation, their question and the compassion are timeless.
While I admit, I have started a bucket list I think many of us have the same goals….to live a life full of purpose. What’s yours? What do you want to do before you die?
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.“
I thought this was the perfect quote to celebrate todays 100th post of Charity Matters. Each week I attempt to pour my soul out for each of you by sharing the stories of the incredible heroes I cover, the non-profits. These stories, people, quotes, inspire me as I hope they inspire you.
Thank you for being here with me and if you are inspired thank you for sharing CM with your friends, tweeting and liking us on Facebook. Its the communities that we build together that create change, thank you for being a part of mine.
“How do you say “thank you” for sunshine or health…for clear days or gentle rains…for happiness, joy or love? You say it by sharing what you have. You say it by making the world a better place in which to live.”
Since April is Autism awareness month, I decided there is no better way to become aware of what families with autism deal with than this video. My friends Julia and Dolph are featured in this and the love stories these parents share with their children will melt your heart.
If you weren’t talking about Autism before, hopefully you will be now.
Every 20 seconds in the United States a child is diagnosed with Autism. A few of those children’s parents are my friends. Their journeys are truly unlike any other. Their commitment and dedication to their children is beyond inspirational.
So when I asked one of my girlfriends about where to start with Autism, she pointed me here to TACA Talking About Curing Autism. What I found was this letter from the founder, Laura Ackerman. It was so much more than I can express so I am reposting it for you here:
In September 1999, the word “autism” rang through my ears like a cannon shot across the bow. My husband and I knew something was not going well with our son Jeff, but we would have never guessed it was autism.
Following that fateful visit with the neurologist, we visited many other professionals including medical doctors, speech pathologists, audiologists, and behaviorists. The list seemed endless. The common message we were given: Autism has no hope, no cure. In fact, the first three medical doctors recommended that my family find “institutional placement” for Jeff who was the ripe old age of 2½ years at the time.
Refusing to give up on our son, my husband and I spent hundreds of hours talking to any and all parents of a child diagnosed with autism, reading dozens of recommended books, watching countless hours of educational videos, and of course, surfing the internet constantly. We were determined that our beloved son would grow far beyond his label and that he would have a future that was wonderful and amazing despite his autism diagnosis. Early on, the most important step for us was to GET BUSY. It was up to us, HIS PARENTS, to make a difference for his future.
The early days of our son’s diagnosis were frustrating. Those countless hours spent researching, reading, talking – wasn’t there a better way? Wasn’t there SOMEONE who had already done the same research and search for answers before, who could have brought us up-to-speed much sooner for us to help our son faster?
Fast forward to November 2000, when our daughter Lauren (at the advanced age of 16) recommended that we start a parent support group. Both my husband and I felt we were not qualified but we definitely wanted the company of other families going through the same struggles for social gatherings and to share information, especially new research and treatments options as they became available. We also hoped to build a community where parents would be inspired by each other’s steadfast hopes for their children’s futures and who would be passionate about autism education for themselves and other similarly struggling families and raising awareness in the general public.
TACA began with a small handful of families in a living room in 2000. Today, we serve several thousand families around the United States. From a grassroots beginning in Southern California, TACA expanded nationwide and now operates Chapters in 18 states.
Where is my son Jeff now? He is 13 years old, attending school in a typical 7th grade placement with an aide. He talks, makes jokes, gives out hugs, socializes with typical friends, and is an active member of society with a bright future. That is a far cry from his early diagnosis and the initial prognosis for his future.
TACA’s goal is to provide education, support, and information to parents to help their children diagnosed with autism be the very best they can be, with the hope of recovery.
Today, there are many, many treatment options that help alleviate many of the symptoms suffered by our children diagnosed with autism. Let us share our collective, hard-won knowledge and experience with your family so your child’s treatment can begin right away. Ask about the autism journey because we are families with autism who have already “been there and done that” with many of our children. Some of us are still working hard everyday with our children for whom we never give up hope. We are Families with Autism Helping Families with Autism.
The autism journey is not an easy one. It’s a marathon, not a sprint; so take each minute, hour, or day, one at a time. It will be difficult, but it will also be incredibly rewarding, because it will change your life, your family’s life, and most importantly, the lives of your children with autism to all enjoy a brighter future.
I wish all families treating and caring for their children with autism the very best possible outcomes for their children as they continue forward on the autism journey.
Tomorrow is World Health Day, yes, it seems there is a day for everything. April 7th marks the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. When diplomats met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the things they discussed was setting up a global health organization.
WHO’s Constitution came into force on April 7th 1948, which is now celebrated every year as World Health Day.
World Health Day is a global campaign, inviting everyone – from global leaders to the public in all countries – to focus on a single health challenge with global impact. This day provides an opportunity for conversation on how to protect people’s health and well-being.
Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights an area of concern and this year’s theme is “Good health adds years to your life.” The focus is how good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives. Ageing concerns each and every one of us – whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor – no matter where we live.
So in honor of World Health Day, I will continue to relax on vacation and hope that this adds a few years to my life. I hope tomorrow, World Health Day, finds you taking care of your health and your self as well.
In almost 90 posts, I have yet to take a break. How can I possibly slow down when all of you are out there giving, helping and doing so much for so many? So, I haven’t….until now.
We recently had a moment when we realized that our children are going to college soon and that this will be our last “Spring Break” for a while. So while I am re-charging my batteries I am encouraging you to do the same.
We all give and do so much, if your reading this..yes I am speaking to you. How can we keep giving if we don’t give to ourselves? Its much like the oxygen mask on the plane (and I really hope I don’t see those, by the way) you put the mask on yourself first before you can assist others.
I recommend we all put our oxygen mask on now. By helping myself, I am resting, renewing and recharging so I can keep making a difference. I wish you the same, even if it’s a moment of silence, a hot bath, or a nap. You deserve it, you give so much, so please give to yourself too.
PS. If you you read Charity Matters via Facebook, please go to our site directly this next week to see our upcoming post at www.Charity-Matters.com or subscribe and they will come to you. Happy break.