62 children enter treatment at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital every minute. If we expand that to the past month, 4.5x the population of the Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, Combined Statistical Area enter treatment.
Over the past 7 years, I have raised a little more than $6,000 for Children's Hospital of Alabama. As a result, I received a call from the organizers of Extra Life thanking me for my dedicated work and informing me that I was the top supporters for Children's Hospital of Alabama ... with my measly five grand.
We can do much better than that.
It may sound like I'm trying to have fun by playing games for 24 hours. It is more than that. I am using my time and body as a catalyst. I am putting my passion to work for a cause. I am turning my love into something tangible.
I have been campaigning and fighting to give these children a chance for years. I have been asking you to help me support these children and families. I've been putting in countless hours of talking to people, impassioned emails, and carefully constructed tweets. I have been fighting with cutting edge, and sometimes expensive, technology to try to provide live streams of my marathons. I yearly put my body through 24 (and, two years ago, 25) hours of no sleep.
I do this to represent the countless hours these families sit awake at their children's side.
I've been to Children's Hospital of Alabama. I had to take my youngest daughter there to verify she did not have Cystic Fibrosis. I was "lucky." She is just a carrier.
While I was there, I saw things. I saw child after child after child waiting for their appointment. I saw the most sublime displays of children's art juxtaposed with hospital sterilization that I could ever possibly imagine. I saw and heard things that only occur in the nightmares of parents, and I was only in the waiting rooms.
But I will never forget the 10-ish year old girl that came in for her regularly scheduled dialysis appointment ... as if it was just another Friday afternoon. She had her school books, a little snack, a book to read for pleasure, and a DVD, in case she finished her homework a little early. You know, everything you'd need for an afternoon hooked up to a huge medical machine that going to clean out all the toxins in your blood. As she entered the secured area, she warmly greeted all the doctors and nurses with the same familiarity that I would greet the staff of my favorite coffee shop as I stopped in for my morning cup of coffee.
I don't know the status of that little girl. I don't know if she's healthy or, quite frankly, alive. I don't even know her name, as I only heard it in passing for the 37 seconds our paths crossed. However, I do remember being incredibly moved and touched by her upbeat attitude about the situations, and I hope that my efforts last three Octobers got her, in some way, a little comfort.
And, if she is still with us, I hope we can get her a little more.
All I ask is a few minutes on a website and a few dollars. These few minutes and few dollars go a long way help people that are experiencing circumstances that only occur in our nightmares.
I also ask that you take one extra step. Forward this plea to those that you know. I can only reach a small fraction of a percentage of the people that may be able to help. Together, we can reach the world. I raise money for Children's Hospital of Alabama. As this message branches out, people may wish to support a hospital closer to their area. Find someone supporting your local hospital that has received no donations and give them their first. Let them know that their time and effort are appreciated.
Together, we can do something great.
Together, we can make a difference.
Together, we all stand tall.