Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Throw the bums out!

It’s hard to write anything these days without talking about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. At least one of my clients lived in New Orleans—Terry Lee Rioux—and I haven’t heard from her. She worked at the National D-Day Museum and I haven’t been able to find any information online about its status. Needless to say, I’d love to hear from her or anyone with some news.

In the meantime, Katrina is doing another form of damage. As millions of dollars in charitable donations go that way, other charities are facing a drought. As someone in the middle of fundraising for a charity right now, I’m experiencing it first-hand, as folks email me to say “I’d love to help, but I’m giving my money to the victims in New Orleans.” Please keep in mind that billions in government aid (as in your tax dollars at work) will be going to those folks, as the feds try to make up for their completely inept handling of this disaster. The impulse to give is great, but don’t forget all the others who need your help and who won’t be on the receiving end of billions in government aid, from AIDS and HIV research to MS to my current focus, leukemia and lymphoma.

For those tracking my training with TNT, I rode to Nyack twice over the long weekend. It was stunning here, weather-wise, so how could I resist some long hours in the saddle? Nyack is about fifty-one miles round-trip each time. And the team did four loops in Central Park (about twenty-five miles) last night. And, since the days are getting shorter, most of that was in the dark. Which brings me to another point.... A lot of folks support the efforts of those who are training in such events and comment on the physical challenges. But let’s not forget the financial challenges. I talked a buddy of mine into doing Team in Training. First stop, the bike store. Cost of a new, entry-level road bike: $1250. Cost of a new helmet: $100. Pedals: About $80. Two pairs of cycling shorts and a couple of cycling jerseys: About $200. A pair of gloves: $30. A headlight and taillight because we are training in the dark: About $30. A big can of Accelerade powder for drinking while on rides: Around $30. I’ve joked about needing a “gear fund” because of the expense involved! No, I’m not whining (I hope). I could end this with “Finding a cure for cancer: Priceless” but the truth is for as much as we fundraise, everyone training is investing hundreds if not thousands of their own money. My girlfriend, who is training out in San Diego (hi Nadene!), emailed me today that she is getting a second job waiting tables to pay for all the gear! I think she’s joking.

On a more serious note, my week started out with the news that a friend of a good friend had died of breast cancer at age thirty-eight, leaving a husband and a three-year-old child. Then one of my mentees emailed to say that her cousin, who was in treatment at the start of training, was buried this weekend. He was the same age I am: thirty-nine. As I say on my
TNT web page, “There but for the grace of G-d go I...and I’m not religious.” It just makes you think, you know? So if you can help me out, that would be great. And if you can’t, that’s okay, also. Maybe you know someone who can. Just email them this blog entry with a note. That could help just as much.

Now, I’m swiftly realizing what a downer this entry is. And for that I apologize. I think I’m feeling a bit disappointed that fundraising isn’t going better. So let me share a little secret with you. I told my friends that if I raised $5,000.00, I’d shave my head! And I’ve gotten at least four checks with notes and a couple of folks who said they’d give more if it would put me over the top. But I’m a long way from that $5K, so if you have any desire to see me do a Mr. Clean imitation, start writing those checks now!

You know, it’s been a while since I mentioned a book here, so let me do that now, since it ties into the National D-Day Museum in a way. Chamberlain Bros., a division of Penguin Group (USA) is going to press this week on THE DEAD OF WINTER, by Bill Warnock. This is just an incredible story and one that has particular poignancy, I feel, in light of all of the dead and lost in New Orleans, the war in Iraq, and the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.

More than sixty years ago, as Allied armies pushed across Europe, the Nazis launched what would become the largest battle on the Western Front: the Battle of the Bulge. For practically the first time since D-Day, the Allies found themselves on the defensive, and few things during war create more confusion than retreat during combat. Equipment goes missing. Men are separated from their units. And sometimes the fallen are left behind.... Sixty years after the last shots of World War II were fired, a remarkable team came together to find their fallen brothers-in-arms, and to bring them home to their families. This team, comprising WWII veterans, battlefield investigators, and forensic scientists, and using a combination of old-fashioned detective work and modern-day laboratory analysis, fulfilled the final duty every soldier has to his fallen comrade: Bring me home, buddy. Bring me home.

Written by a team member and founder of the MIA Project, this is a story of loyalty and the bonds of war, a compelling historical mystery, and a harrowing and emotional journey of tragedy and triumph.

Bill Warnock served four years with the United States Air Force and is a Battle of the Bulge scholar and freelance writer. In 1990, Warnock founded the MIA Project in affiliation with the 99th Infantry Division Association, and today he serves as chief data analyst and archival researcher.

As the fourth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, let us not forget the families whose loved ones never came home from the World Trade Center. And as we read daily of our troops fighting and dying overseas, let us not forget the families who every day bury their sons and daughters who have died in service of their country. And as we watch the news from New Orleans, let us not hope and pray that those who are now missing might find their way home, safe and sound. And for those who do not, let us not forget that this did not have to happen the way it did and that our country has a way to respond to our government when it fails us: Throw the bums out!

Thank you.



Andrew Zack said...

I am very pleased to report that Terry Lee Rioux has emailed to say that she is safe and sound in Beaumont, TX, where she hopes to do some teaching at a local university until she can return home.

James Goodman said...

This is a very humbling post. It is often too easy to get caught up in the "cause of the moment", especially when you are being reminded about the tragedy everywhere you turn. I hope this post reaches enough eyes to turn attentions back toward other causes that are just as, if not more, worthy. I will pass the word and hope it helps.

I am glad to hear that your client is safe and sound. Nearly all of the people that work for me are from Louisiana and less than half of them have heard from their loved ones. It has definately made for some frayed nerves in the workplace.

On a lighter note, I have enjoyed reading through your posts and will definately be back.


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