When was the last time you did something a little crazy for charity? Cut off long lengths of hair to donate? Shave it all off for contributions and solidarity? Walked mile after mile to raise funds? Personally scheduled a race, a scavenger hunt, or food/clothing collection? Made dinner for 50 or more strangers?
This weekend I did my second polar plunge to support Special Olympics. And I’m proud to say I did it before Jimmy Kimmel made it cool. With sunshine and warm air, the water was still at a nice mid-30s temp just make sure our rescheduled plunge was still polar.
Even thought I’ve supported for years, and this wasn’t my novice plunge, this year brought me something new. I met one of the athletes. On the bus ride over and back, I had the pleasure to meet one of the local athletes and his dad. His dad put us all at ease, as this was this third plunge – this year (one at Deep Creek, one for Cool Schools, and then Plunge 2 that day).
After plunging, I caught back up with the group to head back and there with camera in hand was my new friend the athlete. Dad had completed plunge #3 and was thanking the MSP and rescue support teams for all their help in making the plunge happen, including those donning the dry suits.
Our athlete was thrilled to have a post card of the Sweet Leda band that had been rocking the stage. (PS – Julie if you read this – you have a huge new fan :). But it was the athlete who was the star when the bus driver recognized him and even listed the events that he had driven the athlete to.
Getting back off the bus, I thanked the dad for keeping our little group organized and I went to shake the hand of the athlete. It took me about two seconds to instead offer a hug and I got the most sincere thank you I’ve ever received – for wading into the bay and being a little cold for all of two minutes and bugging friends and family to donate.
Folks say the plungers are crazy, which is true you have to be a little bit to willingly walk into that water. But it’s the best kind of crazy. Call it crazy for charity. Crazy for compassion. Crazy for connection.
I’ve been a little grinchy so far this year. I reset my CFC contributions to charity back up on the hope I’ll be around for the full year at my job. So my funds were going to charity but when it came down to it my heart really wasn’t.
There are over 1.2 million nonprofits in the US. The shear volume of organizations asking for our help is overwhelming. You can’t help them all, much less even a small fraction. There are days when even writing a check is too hard because who do you choose or not choose. And then you sit back and wonder did it even make a difference.
Instead of dealing with shrinkage, my grinchy heart grew a few more than three sizes on Saturday and as I sit here and continue to pull sand from my hair (seriously can’t figure out where is it coming from since I didn’t go under the water) – I got reminded the importance of connecting. My limited contributions and my time made a difference to one person.
So can I be and instigator encourage you to be a little crazy for charity this year? Cut your hair, take a physical challenge, live on $1.50 a day for a week, volunteer a few hours to help make an event happen – whatever it is I can tell you that no matter how hard you try – you will some how manage to get back more than you give.