When I was thinking ahead to the WEGO prompt of “Your Best Day Ever,” I was letting my imagination spin a tale: one that would happen down the road one day.
Then a funny thing happened. My best day ever appeared, right in front of my face; right smack in the middle of my everyday life. Because my best day ever is: today.
That’s because something amazing is happening in my world; something that, yes, has happened before, but I’d completely forgotten the power of.
I’m taking action in this diabetes world in a tangible way, and the world is jumping on board to help me.
I’m talking, of course, of my decision to ride in the JDRF Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes. I’ve hemmed and hawed about the decision for a long time. First of all, in my days as a national volunteer at JDRF, I’ve been, well, critical of the ride. But you know, it was a very new program back then, and they’ve done great things to spiff it up and make it a well-run fundraising machine. Second – it’s been a long road in our lives with diabetes and our mission to help fund a cure. I’ve asked my friends over and over and over to sponsor our walk teams over the years, to come to our gala and raise their auction paddles, to name my cause their “charity of choice” on other donations. Sometimes I feel like I’m a fundraising stalker.
And yet, Death Valley spoke to me. True, my good friend Katie has been pushing me for years. My good friend Michelle has been saying, “never say never.” But what really helped me make the leap is realizing what my family’s personal journey in the Type 1 Diabetes world has in common with this ride.
Because yeah, battling Type 1 diabetes can seem as endless as, well, a 105-mile bike ride through a sweltering desert. And talk about hills and peaks to power up? How about the teen years? Or sending my daughter off to college? Yep, I’ve powered through some crazy obstacles and thankfully, come out the other side with only some temporary pains.
So I took a deep breath, signed onto the ride site, and hit “sign me up.” I set a crazy-high fundraising goal (anyone who knows me is not surprised by that), and thought in my head “Well, the minimum required is $4,000. I can always just suck it up and donate that myself.” I honestly had no idea what was going to happen.
Kind of like the day oh-so-long-ago we convinced doctors that young kids should go on pumps. Or the day I waved goodbye as my high school daughter headed off to DC for a program with no medical supervision. Or the day I drove away, her waving in my rear-view mirror, me leaving her at college. Far away. Days with equal doses of hope, anxiety, fear and pride. That’s what I felt like signing up.
Then comes the best day ever: when I made my plan public.
Because within minutes of my making my decision public (via this blog and my facebook page), it all started happening.
Donations poured in. People I only knew through on line programs and quick chats here and there started to give. People I happen to know already give way more than any person should ever be expected to gave more. Folks from my childhood stepped up and gave big – some even sharing connections and reasons that motivated me even more.
And while they all gave, I remembered the most wonderful feeling of all: empowerment. Strength. Sticktoitiveness in the face of adversity.
In other words, all the traits I’d tried to drill into my daughter with diabetes all these years. All the traits I’d held dear long ago in this journey but wondered, in recent years, if I’d just completely lost.
Here’s the thing: Yes, it’s scary to put yourself out there and ask folks to help. But if you choose a mission you believe in (and I will believe in JDRF’s mission until we are done with it), and if you put your heart and soul into it, it’s going to come back to you in spades.
Ironically, I heard another person I know talking about another fundraising event, and advising a friend that it’s not really about the amount raised, it’s about being there. And in a small way, I agree: I’ve long told people who do the Walk to Cure that it’s for EVERY level of donor and fundraiser. If all you can do is get 10 friends to give $10 each, that’s huge. But in the case of a ride or a gala or something that asks you to raise more, it really is about going big – or going home. So when I hear someone say, “Oh, the fundraising is beside the point,” I cringe a little; not just for the program that needs funding, but for the person missing out on the gift going big on fundraising gives that very person.
Because that kind of commitment only gives back – to you, to your friends and to the world. Anyone who signs on and does not give it their all is missing out, maybe on their own personal best day ever.
Today is my best day ever because I’m renewed in my determination. I’m renewed in my ambition to make this diabetes world better. I’m renewed in my confidence in being able to be a relevant force in this diabetes world. I’m renewed in my sense of purpose in a world that can just plain beat you up sometimes.
I’m awash in hope.
I’m awash in gratitude.
I’m awash in sticktoitiveness.
That, my friends, is a best day ever.
Of course – tomorrow could be even better. Consider donating here.