It was a spring day in Florida – already hot, sun shining, air hanging with more than a hint of humidity. If I were older than 10 at the time I’m pretty sure I would have complaining about the humidity’s effect on my hair. My brother and I were standing under the palm tree that graced our front yard (in addition to the palm tree there were two or three small cactus bushes and a bit of spotty grass – the ground, with more sand than dirt, didn’t do much to sustain a full, green lawn). Then Frits, my fifteen year old brother, asked me how it felt to run.
Even at ten years old, this question pierced my heart. I’m not sure what answer I stammered out. I tried to convey the joy of it, the freedom of it. But I didn’t want to make it sound too good – like he was missing out on too much. You see, Frits had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. It’s the most severe of the many strains of muscular dystrophy. At 15, he was still able to walk – well – perhaps it was more shuffling than walking.
His lifelong fight with muscular dystrophy – and our family’s response to it – has shaped me in more ways than I probably recognize. But that particular question continues to haunt me – even now after Frits has been gone for seven years. The question, ‘How does it feel to run?’ challenges me on a daily basis – am I living in a way that honors the abilities I’ve been given?
Most of us have a story – something that drives us to be better and to do more. What’s yours?
What about the story of your organization? MADD was started by a mother who was mad about drunk driving. March of Dimes was started to fight polio – by collecting dimes. Most organizations have amazing stories to share, but few actually do it. By framing your mission in the form of a story, it makes it easier to remember – and helps it to be more personal.
I’ve been challenged lately to be a little more personal and to share a little more about me. I challenge you and your organization to do the same.