the generosity of colleagues

This is the fifth year that I’m fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walks. Each year I do this again and again, I start it feeling cynical. Does anyone really care what I’m doing, or what my story is and how it’s evolved? Is it just a one stop donation, and then people forget about it in their everyday lives? What is actionable from this other than giving money to someone’s fundraising drive whose story you found touching?

I struggled with writing a story this year. I would start, stop, edit, delete, start again, stop, get annoyed, then delete everything. I wondered who would donate again. I wondered of the colleagues I’ve met in the last year, or gotten closer to, if they would donate. I wondered what they were thinking when they read my message.

I actually received quite a number of very touching, heartfelt messages from colleagues this year in the last couple days about my story and my fundraising drive. I’ve also received a lot of extremely generous contributions. I’ve been responding to each of them one by one, but the one I was definitely not expecting was from our CEO. He shared with me that he has compartmentalized his own family experience with suicide from over 45 years ago, and still doesn’t talk about it, but that he admired my ability to be so open about it to help others. He said he’s only shared this with four other people in his entire life. He also donated $1,000 to my fundraising drive today to support me. I was speechless. No one has ever donated that much to my fundraising drive, ever. And he barely even knows me.

Statistics show that people are more likely to donate to a fundraiser if they know the person who is leading the fundraiser. They’re more likely to donate more if they are closer to the person. This level of generosity was not part of these statistics.

I ended today feeling hopeful. People really do care more than I give them credit for. My cynicism is slowly shaking.

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