I love days like yesterday, when I am completely reminded why I have such a passion for my job. I want you to meet Joey. Yesterday was Joey’s 14th birthday. Instead of holding a big party,getting gifts, and having the day be all about himself, Joey chose to hold a fundraiser for CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America). See, Joey was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease two years ago. He approached our CCFA chapter last year about holding a fundraiser in conjunction with his birthday party. Last year’s “Joey’s Crohn’s Fighting Fundraiser and Birthday Bowling Bash” raised a bit over $4000 for CCFA. Boy, were we impressed with the efforts of a 13 year old! This year’s event was an even bigger success! Joey invited the whole middle school, and almost the entire 8th grade showed up. For a $5 donation, the kids got to come, bowl for 2 hours, eat donated pizza and pop, and have their name entered into a raffle for some great prizes Joey and his family had solicited. For additional donations, the kids were entered into another raffle for some really cool “big ticket” items, like a video iPod, an electric guitar and amp, a Nintendo Wii, and Cavs tickets so close to the court “LeBron will sweat on you”, as one eighth grader put it .
All this stuff was donated by the community or CCFA board members! And…are you ready for this? This year Joey raised over $9300, and the total is still climbing! As a fundraiser by “trade”, I’m very impressed by that total…but the money is not what moves me…or motivates me to continue what I do. No, it was watching Joey, all smiles, as all his buddy’s came through the doors of the bowling alley to support him. It was watching Joey’s little sister Sarah and her friends yell ” We love you, Joey”, then burst into a fit of laughter, as Joey’s was trying to raffle off prizes. It’s seeing the tears of joy and pride in the eyes of a mom who wants more than anything for her son just to be “normal”, and the pats on the back by a father to a son. It was watching Joey talk to a reporter about his struggles with Crohn’s, and I thinking that one day, this kid is going to Capitol Hill to tell his story. Joey’s gonna change the world…he already has. He’s not being a victim, he’s putting a face on a pair of diseases that no one wants to talk about. He’s educating his friends and the community. And in the process, he’s taking control of his destiny and empowering himself. He’s learning that there is, in fact, life after Crohn’s disease… and that’s what my job is all about.
Here are some pics from the event:
The whole gang
Joey and his mom
Sister Sarah “has guts”
Go Bay Village!
I got to present Joey with a $1000 check from one of our major donors!