Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pep Talk: "Betterment of Others"

The lively crowd had begun to settle in as I offered this to those celebrating Make-A-Wish Colorado’s 30th anniversary: “I’ve got a big crush on Joan. I love our lunches. She doesn’t pull any punches!”

The crowd gathered at the Colorado History Museum (a beautiful venue for events, by the way) chuckled a bit while the organization’s founder looked at me with one of those “Are you crazy?” looks. This simple dude from Missouri gets them often from a woman who has dedicated life to toiling for the betterment of others.

Admirable indeed.

Most people know the Make-A-Wish brand pretty well. It’s a national organization, founded in 1980 in Arizona. Two law enforcement officers started a chain reaction of events that would lead to a terminally-ill seven-year-old boy receiving a great wish: being a cop and catching the “bad guys.” An organization was born. It’s mission to make life better for kids with life-threatening illnesses. Kids and families being touched by Wish’s magic now number more than 300,000.  Admirable indeed.

The Colorado chapter was started by Joan Mazak back in 1983 to honor her daughter, Jennifer. A liver condition robbed her of life at the age of seven, far too young. 

A distraught mother had a critical decision to make: allow this tragedy to sour her view of life, or inspire her to help others deal with the one thing all parents fear: burying children. It’s not supposed to happen that way.

It was a fun night of wonderful stories from Wish kids, celebration of sustained success and loving tributes. I was honored to host the event and exalt Mazak for somehow finding the strength and conviction to turn a truly lousy moment in life into something positive. That ol’ “lemons into margaritas” kinda deal.

I know from our enjoyable lunches and other chats that the pain of losing a child at such a tender age will, in some ways, never fade. We all have those moments in life, right? Those, “What the heck is going on around here?” kinda moments that have us believing nobody could have it any worse than we do.

Joan poured that energy into helping others. Just a while back, Make-A-Wish Colorado - the state organizations operate in partnership with the national office - granted its 4,000th wish. Through it all (and Joan would be the first to admit there’s been plenty of turbulence along the way), through passion and perseverance, and with a great team of staff and supporters, MAW-Colorado has brought respite and joy to the lives of sick kids and their families.

Many have defied the odds and survived despite the dire prognosis. Who knows, maybe the granting of their “wish” had something to do with the miraculous health reversal? Who knows?

This much we do know. Joan Mazak’s story is a good reminder. Yep. It’s a good reminder to the power of a mindset focused on the betterment of others. Nothing was going to erase the fact a mother had lost a seven-year-old daughter. The big question was, “How would Joan react?” She poured pain and sorrow into helping others, in similar straits, try to do something to find joy despite what ails. Wish it away. At least for a while.

As the talented and funny auctioneer wrapped up his duties toward the end of the evening, I glanced around the venue where many had gathered. Love was present for sure. The throng heard a wonderful story about a wish kid who wanted to write a book about cancer. That was her request. No fancy trips, no exotic shopping sprees or role playing for a day. This young lady, Jenna, wanted to have a team help her write a book about cancer.

An editor, illustrator, publisher and others helped this incredible spirit, who also survived, to write a book. A huge Colorado Rockies fan, Jenna, in her darkest hours, also thought in terms of the betterment of others.

It is not an easy task, thinking of the betterment of others. That darn thing called life sucks sometimes, and we like to throw pity parties. Eventually, however, attendance seems to decline at such affairs.

But based upon the big crowd hugging Joan, Jenna and the other champions celebrating 30 years of success for Make-A-Wish Colorado, living with a spirit centered on utilizing challenges for the betterment of others seems to be admired and effective.

It might serve us well this week too. Good luck!

No comments:

facebook metwitter
linkd in

Hey Comeback Coach Copyright© 2009

About The Comeback Coach | Contact Us | Links | Privacy Statement