|The ACHA "mission table"|
|Walkers in Eden Park|
Moments after our brief conversation and photo shoot ended, another heart mom who was standing nearby approached me with palpable enthusiasm and excitement. She commented on how sweet that gesture was and how I instantly became an inspiration for that young couple—a reminder (now with photographic proof) that their little guy has a real chance of growing up and being able to live a completely normal life.
My "official" role at the walk was to represent ACHA and to be a spokesperson for the organization. What I was not consciously thinking about in advance was the very personal impact that my presence and a few simple words could mean to others who were there. As I told the heart mom who commented on my interaction with that young couple, I don’t generally think of myself as an inspiration for others. Rather, I just do this work because I enjoy it and because it is so important to me personally. She then looked me straight in the eye and reminded me that—with that single photograph of me holding their little baby boy—that family would always have the memory of that moment and hope for their son’s long-term prospects.
After the walk was over, I headed directly to the airport for my return trip to Chicago. I was, after all, scheduled to work the black tie gala for my "day job" that evening. (For those of you who don’t know, I work in the Development office of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.) I was fortunate to catch an earlier flight on standby and upon landing headed directly from O'Hare to my office, where my tuxedo was already waiting for me. As our biggest fundraising event of the year—with over 600 guests in attendance last night—Symphony Ball is an all-Development-hands on deck ordeal.
|The Grand Ballroom|
As I think back on my two-city, two-fundraiser day, I can’t help but be somewhat amused by the polarity of these two events, both of which fall under the broad term philanthropy (or development or fundraising). At the most basic level, yes, these two events had the same end goal: to raise money for an important charitable organization. But the vast differences between the two fundraising events clearly reflect the vast differences in the types of the beneficiary organizations.
|Me with two of my|
I was exhausted by the end of the night, but it was truly a great day. Both events were quite successful and (I think) each exceeded its fundraising expectations. But while I enjoyed seeing and participating in both events, there is still no question in my mind as to where my heart (no pun intended) truly lies.
Postscript: An abbreviated version of this entry was published on the ACHA blog in November 2013.