Over my lifetime I’ve seen the full gamut of solicitations for donations. All for a good cause (has anyone ever come to you and asked you to give money for a crappy one?). From “The United Way” to “Goodwill” and almost every disease or disaster in between. Unless it’s something that’s extremely rare, or has never been covered by either the news or coffee pot gossip, I’m well aware of it.
So why do I constantly continue to see all these “we’re trying to bring awareness” events? Take, for example, the “ice bucket challenge” – to bring awareness to ALS. Well, any boy that’s ever played baseball knows what ALS is – it’s what one of the greatest players to ever lace up cleats died of. That’s why they refer to it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. I’m pretty sure that almost everyone is aware of ALS – and those that aren’t probably aren’t going to donate anyway.
The same holds true for MDS (what for years was “The Jerry Lewis Telethon”, until they tossed him aside like a pair of old sneakers), MS, Cancer (in all it’s flavors), Goodwill, The Salvation Army, etc. If you’re not aware of these then you either live under a rock or don’t care – and “awareness” isn’t going to change that.
No, this was all started by some “Marketeer” that tried a new approach to panhandling for charity. And to be honest (which none of these folks are) I’m getting kind of sick of constantly hearing about “awareness”. Maybe, just maybe, people could be straight up for a change. Maybe Pete Frates’ (the founder of the ice bucket challenge) folks could just say “Hey, our boy got a bad break. And your kid could too. Please, give if you can, and to honor all the poor folks with ALS like Pete, dump a bucket of ice water on your friend’s head”.
Or maybe they can just come clean and fess up to the fact that these “awareness” events aren’t as much for those afflicted, but rather to ease the pain or conscience of those affected. How many of those hard core “Walk For Breast Cancer” folks have lost a Mother, Sister or Wife to the disease? Does anyone truly believe that walking will help bring even more awareness, or wipe it out? Hell no. But it makes them feel good that they remember those afflicted now, or those they’ve lost, so why don’t they just go with that?
It’s been my experience that most folks don’t begin supporting specific afflictions until it personally affects them. I know that I used to give generously to the United Way (you know, “share the wealth”) until I found out that more money was lining the pockets of those involved instead of those afflicted. If you’re unsure about your favorite charity, Google it and see just what goes where. If they don’t provide a breakdown of how your donation’s spent, then the odds are good that it’s not being spent the way you intended.
And always remember, human compassion is one of the few positive traits we have left (you know, after we’ve killed off all the other creatures and crippled the Earth). There is no shame in having a walk, run, ice bucket or anything else to show your love or to comfort your soul. Just be honest about it, otherwise you sound like a hypocrite.
Oh, and quit asking me if I want to sponsor you in a “run for (insert charity here)”. Unless I’m going to see you push yourself to the limit, puke and possibly pass out, then it isn’t truly a run. It’s just a name for “give me money for spending some time exercising with my friends”.