There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not incredibly thankful for what I have. I have a terrific life. I have a wonderful wife, a great family, my health...the list goes on and on. But I think it's important to be more than just thankful. I think it's important to give something back. And I do so pretty frequently.
In May of 2008, Parkersburg, Iowa was hit by an EF-5 tornado. I'd never been to Parkersburg before. I'd never performed in their library or had any other connection to the town. Still, I donated a portion of my library after show sales from that summer to their library. If I remember correctly, it was somewhere around $200. In April of 2011 another tornado hit Mapleton, Iowa. Instead of donating money, I offered to do a show for the Mapleton Library Summer Reading Program. That was the same year when we had the flooding along the Missouri River and because of that, many roads were underwater. The 90-minute drive to Mapleton turned into about a 3 hour drive. It was wonderful to be able to put some smiles on the faces of people who had been through so much.
I do a lot of non-library related volunteer work to. Each year I'm involved with the CureSearch Walk for Childhood Cancer. I've also done work for Make-A-Wish, The Sienna Francis House, Madonna School and the Juvenile Diabetes Association just to name a few.
But my latest cause doesn't involve an organization, group or even a library. It involves a young man.
I first met Alex almost exactly a year ago. On February 10th, 2013 I did a fundraising show for Alex and his family at Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, Nebraska. At the time, Alex was 9 years old and had recently been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We didn't know how many people would show up. We were relying on a few e-mails, some handmade posters and word of mouth. We would have been happy with 100 people.
My brother and his wife were the first ones to show up. Then a few more came in. Then a large family...then a few more. By the time the show started, we estimated there were over 400 people filling the bleachers in the gym. The show went well and people gave from their hearts to Alex's family. I was overwhelmed.
After the show, people came up to me and thanked me for what I had done. But I was quick to point out that I hadn't done anything. I showed up and played with my toys. That alone wouldn't have helped Alex or his family. It was the overwhelming generosity of the good people of Wahoo and the surrounding communities that really counted.
Well, Alex went into remission and was getting better. Then the other shoe fell. On January 1st of this year, it was discovered that the cancer had returned. And it had returned with a vengeance. Alex spent three weeks in Children's Hospital in Omaha as the doctors used chemo to reduce the size of the tumors in his chest. Now he's about to undergo round two of his treatment which will eventually lead to a bone marrow transplant.
There is going to be another fundraiser for Alex this Sunday, February 9th at Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo. It's from 11-2 and this time I'll be playing a much smaller role. I'll be doing strolling magic with other magicians. There will be bounce houses for the kids, a silent auction, a live auction, food, drink, a bake sale, raffle...it's going to be a lot of fun. If you can possibly attend to help support my 10-year old friend and his family, I'd appreciate it. All of Wahoo is going to be there, I hope you will be, too.