We’ve all experienced it, that puzzling quest to figure out how we could have possibly gone through twenty-five bucks so quickly. As you backtrack in your mind, you begin to realize that it was spent mostly on non-essentials that aren’t even significant enough to register in your memory. Those quick stops at the neighborhood convenience are enough of a menacing pickpocket to my wallet. I’m sure you know the drill…you run in for just one item, but you get sucked in by those little things that catch your eye before you’re able to escape with just the snack you originally stopped to get. The lottery scratch tickets are the worst. I often wonder if they possess some ethereal, controlling powers that not only force me to get one, but to get at least three—along with two Lotto and one Powerball quick-picks because it somehow doesn’t make sense to buy just one scratch ticket. Of course, my hopes for instant wealth are always dashed upon the discovery that each ticket is a loser.
Before I know it, twenty-five bucks is gone and I repeatedly have to wrack my brain to figure out where it went. I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve often commiserated with friends over this and while the specifics and the amount for each of us may vary, the outcome is the same. Even after sharing tips on how to be more frugal, we’ve come to the conclusion that the weekly conundrum of the disappearing twenty-five dollars is simply one of life’s many enigmas, much like the one sock that is apparently sucked into the black hole of the laundry universe shortly after it enters the dryer.
I realize I am not the penny-pincher my mother was. That woman was the champ of frugality and could have easily settled the national debt in the course of an afternoon. But I’m also not at all cavalier with my finances. On the contrary, I try to keep a relatively balanced budget and I set aside a fixed, disposable amount each week—but it’s usually gone in record time. So it occurred to me that most of us would feel much more satisfied with the disappearance of that money if we knew it went to something more meaningful.
I don’t hide the fact that my passion for Colorado Cancer Research Program (CCRP) is derived in large part from losing my mom to cancer and the ensuing determination that I would somehow avenge her death, almost as if I were relentlessly hunting down an at-large assassin. And in a way, I am. The advancements and breakthroughs that stem from the work done at CCRP are unprecedented. The result is that people are living longer, more lives are being saved and we are closer to a cure than ever before. So, of course, I’m sold on the mission of CCRP. If you haven’t already—and harsh as it may be to hear— odds are that you will experience a loved one battling cancer at some point in your life and the war against cancer will become a cause in which you, personally, have a vested interest. So it begs the question: isn’t that something worth supporting now—with— oh, say, twenty-five bucks?
Of all the success stories I’ve heard here at CCRP, there’s one touches me more than any other. It involves Nicholas, a six year-old boy whose father passed away four months after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that attacked and spread quickly. After that, there was no gray area for Nicholas. Cancer of any kind meant death. Three years later, his mother got the devastating news that she had stage 2 ovarian cancer. When the time came to tell her son, it didn’t matter that her oncology team was optimistic about treatment options; it didn’t matter that she had been enrolled in a promising clinical trial through CCRP and they had every reason to hope for a successful outcome. Throughout her treatment protocols, Nicholas remained doubtful and hopeless, certain he would be an orphan before too long. A year after her CCRP treatments began, she heard two of the most incredible words she could imagine: full remission. The unforgettable moment when she shared the miraculous news with her son is difficult to adequately put into words, as his deepest fears were shattered and his entire outlook on life suddenly changed. It’s a moment I recall whenever I’m having a bad day. It puts things into perspective and makes me remember what’s important. And it’s a moment I often think of when I’m feeling frustrated about the missing twenty-five bucks.
Next Tuesday is Colorado Gives Day, the annual event presented by Community First Foundation to celebrate charitable giving and to raise funds for approximately 1,200 non-profit organizations. It’s a day that can make or break some organizations, and for others, it’s a day that can be the deciding factor on whether or not a necessary program is added or whether or not additional clients can be served. It’s just one day. And for that one day, I’d like to issue a challenge—to take that $25 you would otherwise spend on meaningless friffle (one of my mom’s invented words) and use it to make a difference. Give it to any one of the nearly 1,200 Colorado Gives Day charities. Of course, I’m going to suggest you give it to Colorado Cancer Research Program. But regardless, the challenge is to take that twenty-five bucks—or more—and help make your corner of the world a better place. It will make you feel good—and you’ll have no trouble remembering what you did with this particular twenty-five bucks.
So there it is—my holiday challenge to you. I’m hoping that, next Tuesday, you’ll include CCRP on your charitable giving list. In my last blog post, I mentioned something my mom used to say that has been one of my guiding principles for life: “Nothing feels quite as good as knowing you’ve made a difference.” Today, let’s make a difference.