I recently sent a note to my friends at the American Heart Association-Tampa Bay because I wanted them to know how much the "real" people affected by heart defects and disease love and appreciate the work they are doing -- both on a local level and nationally.
I did it because, at the end of the day, I'm no one special, really.
Yes, I am a mom. A wife. A professional. And these are all important things to "my people." But in the grand scheme of making an impact, I fall short. And that's OK.
But these people are special. They work tirelessly for real change. Change that has made an actual life or death difference for our family.
They are working for research funding. For mainstream education. For better testing. They are working to save lives.
I'm sure there are many tough days for them -- when people tell them "no" or that they are asking too much. Or maybe people just don't think it's worth their time. I'm sure they get frustrated because they are so passionate about what they are doing that they can't possibly fathom why others don't feel the same way.
People ask me how and when I make the time for a "cause." But in my mind, this isn't just a cause. This is as important as the air I breathe or the food I eat; this is my son and his life. Advocating for them IS advocating for Josh. How could I not help a group that has already provided funding to make sure he has a future? How could I not do everything in my power to make sure his life -- and others -- is as bright as it can possibly be?
Heart disease does not discriminate. Surely someone in your life has been affected. It doesn't have to be your child -- and I hope with all that I am that it is NEVER your child. But it could very easily be a parent, a sibling, a grandparent.
I know we all have our passions and things that move us. Maybe you have a different cause ... and that's OK too. Just remember that the troops on the ground, advocating for whatever it may be, are working hard, challenging the status quo and raising funds for a better future.
Consider donating a dollar the next time you see a child's face in your local Subway or maybe a few bucks at the grocery store checkout line for those kids you'll never know. You are affecting change. And then you are no longer no one.
About Josh's Mom
By day, Stephanie is in marketing; by night and all other times in between, she's a mom and wife, and highly passionate voice for CHD fundraising and research.