Saturday, January 27, 2007

If you could have one wish...

what would you wish for?

Last night, Steve and I powdered and perfumed ourselves, brushed, combed, and made ourselves gorgeous, and then donned our very best attire in order to attend a dinner that celebrates, asks, and then answers that very simple question. We were invited to attend the Make a Wish Foundation black tie gala dinner. Steve actually went out and bought a tuxedo! He looked fantastic. I wore something little old thing I found in the back of my closet - and turned a few heads myself... but that's beside the point.

Four years ago, a 12-year-old girl named Hope Stout was asked that question here in Charlotte, North Carolina. She answered that question with a question of her own: "How many other children in Charlotte and western North Carolina are waiting to have a wish granted?"

The reply: 155.

She said: "My wish is to raise enough money so that all their wishes can be granted."

Thus began a ripple of compassion, generosity, and joy across the lives and cities and towns in this part of NC. In that first year, $1.16 million were raised and all the wishes of those 155 children were granted. Although Hope lost her battle to cancer less than a year later, the dream goes on. In her honor, there is a Celebration of Hope dinner every January.

Last night the hosts of the dinner auctioned off various lovely gifts: trips, vacations, sports paraphrenalia related to football and NASCAR, jewelry, a basket containing a book, a quilt, and other momentos of Hope's life, and a very special basketball signed by over a dozen of the 50 greatest basketball players in history.

The basketball used to be owned by a little boy whose Make a Dream wish had been to attend an NBA all-star game and meet Michael Jordan. So he went to All-Star weekend, bought a basketball, asked for several of the players to sign the ball, and cherished both the ball and the gift of meeting Jordan. Cherished it, that is, until the little boy's death soon thereafter. In an act of bravery and generosity, the parents of that deceased child made the decision to auction the ball last night along with all the paraphrenia their son had collected that all-star weekend.

When the bidding hit $17,000, the gentleman who made the offer raised the stakes quite high when he said he would pay the price - and then return the ball to the auctioneer so it could be auctioned again. Standing ovation. The auction began again. This time the price went up to $25,000 - and the next bidder offered to pay the money and return the ball to the family of the little boy who had passed away. We didn't stand on our chairs to applaud, but we probably should have.

When we first received the invitation to go to the dinner, I did everything within my power to not go. I think benefits are over-rated. Why should we have to be wined and dined to donate to a good cause? Why waste so much money on steak and fish and wine and a band when all that money could go to the kids in need? Why do we need to buy or rent tuxedos, new dresses, and get our nails done in order to write a check? I still don't have an answer to any of those questions - and that's beside the point.

After a few moments of self-righteous indignation (gotta work on overcoming that!), I remembered my new year's motto: "Live it. Breathe it." I got dressed up, went to the dinner at the elegant Westin Hotel, where we ate well, conversed and laughed with Steve's boss and his wife, danced with my charming and handsome husband, sat one table over from Steve Smith, one of the best football players in Carolina Panther history, and had a very good time. Steve wrote a generous check. We came home. And a great time was had by all.

At one point during the evening, someone on the podium said that the best wish of all would be to put Make a Wish out of business due to the lack of children with life-threatening diseases. Would that it could be so!

But until then, Hope's wish is our command. Let's make a few children's dreams come true.

1 comment:

Goddess of Leonie said...

i have tears in my eyes reading this, gail.

thank you.