Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's All I've Got

Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I'm typically not at a loss for words.  The gift of gab is a prominent character trait, and I can usually string thoughts together into fairly cohesive, grammatically correct sentences.  Well, that simply isn't the case at the moment.  I'm struggling to find the words to say thank you so that it means more than just thank you (as in - achoo, "God bless you", "thank you" or "Your skirt is cute", "thank you").  The English language is aggravatingly limited.  If there really are fifty Eskimo words for the word snow, then there's a need to ramp up our vocabulary when it comes to expressions of thanks! 

The long-winded rant above is due to my lack of ability to adequately express my deep gratitude to each and every one of you who played a part in the success of the 5th Annual Erin Potts Volleyball Invitational and the resulting achievement of the launch of our new Scatter Kindness Memorial Fund.

An estimated amount upwards of $7500 was raised!
This does not include donations made directly through
the hospital foundation's website.

UPDATE - $9600 with the donations made through the Foundation. 

Just imagine the number of patients who'll reap the benefits of your generosity.

I'm still coming down from the rush of emotions from last weekend.  Each year, the event takes on a slightly different feel, and every time I think to myself, it just doesn't get better than this... and then it does. 

When the first tournament was held in 2010, it was less than two short months after Erin had died.  The whole thing had been planned by the St. Cletus community, and I'd shown up at the appropriate times and pretty much just sat there and tried not to cry (unsuccessfully).  My insides were so conflicted at the time. I was numb over Erin's death, and working hard to breathe a few sighs of relief (sort of) for her much-deserved peace after three years of watching this awful disease take her from us piece by piece.  I was beginning to practice the fine art of engagement with the normal world again (and this was a very crowded, public venue for a debut) and, finally, I was completely overwhelmed by the extraordinary generosity of a community that was raising a whole lot of money right before my eyes in that little gym on 55th street where I'd once spent hours in my "before" life... my former home away from home. 

Gosh, how I loved it there.  Admittedly, I become very nostalgic every year as I take part in the excitement that used to be a huge part of my life.  The pull of those days is very strong, and I long to gather my teams in a huddle, give words of advice and encouragement, sit on a bench in my St Cletus red and, yes, drop a clip-board in exasperation over my players doing something really stupid on the court when they know better!  

Recognize anyone? 
Some of you played a little alumni VB this past weekend.
 It was so good to see you.

Each year since 2010, I've become increasingly involved in the planning for and running of the tournament, and the experience has been personally rewarding on many levels.  Monies raised in previous years have been forwarded to organizations that perform research studies on Ewing's sarcoma, and to Bear Necessities which supports pediatric cancer patients and their families. 

Now, with the opportunity to create a fund in Erin's name that will provide programs for individuals right here in our community, together (you and I) we'll be able to watch your generosity unfold in the hands of those in need.  This is something we've not been able to see in past years with the other organizations, and that is part of what makes Scatter Kindness so special.  Stories about patients will be shared through Adventist publications and right here on this blog, so stay tuned, and I'll be sure to notify you as well with a knock on your inbox.   

Kindness was scattered down upon me in abundance through the individuals and organizations who: donated concessions (both purchased and home-baked) and worked the stand, sold T-shirts and raffle tickets at the door, sat at the score table for hours, ordered pizzas, took countless pictures, drove in from South Bend and Milwaukee, stopped by to say a quick "hi", bought T-shirts and raffle tickets, placed a check in my palm and closed my fingers around it, competed in alumni games, made a fabulous new tournament banner, sold some "Got Hope" bracelets, hugged me and reminded me they'd never forget Erin. 

YES! Thank you Sammi.
And then there's our tournament director, Sue, who does a million and a half things each year to ensure the event is a success and always says, "I've got that. No worries!", and she does (she never even knew Erin) and Tina who coordinates so many of the random details, and the Sadowski family who schleps things large and small, does crowd control in the lobby and takes photos (and they never knew Erin or even me) and finally Joanie who donates her time to referee the games for three straight days, and has done so each year of the tournament. 

Within the walls of the gym that contained a palpable reverberation, I saw Erin in the athleticism, energy and joy of the players as they competed and celebrated a victory.  I felt her frustration and disappointment in the tears of girls whose teams were eliminated from the competition after hard-fought matches.  She was in the ponytails tied with lime ribbons that swung from side to side and in the T-shirts bearing her name and in the tweet of Joanie's whistle and the stink of the knee pads, and in every person who told me "something great is happening in here" and "we feel so welcomed and at-home in your gym" and "there's a certain magic that goes on at this tournament every year that's hard to explain".  

Yes, the spirit of Erin was there with such force I could almost reach out and touch her.  But, I couldn't... so my voice sometimes cracked when I spoke through the microphone to each team as I presented medals, and my tears flowed as I hugged friends, both old and new.

And now, after all that, I've returned to the afore-mentioned exasperated
feeling due to the inadequacy of the words
I have to express gratitude for all the above.

So I guess I simply have to say
When all is said and done, it's all I've got.

in memory of Erin Elizabeth

P.S. - Our favorite photographer is busy uploading 800+ pictures to a Shutterfly site that I'll share as soon as I can.  I'll put a link in the sidebar when it's ready so you can all look at photos and copy what you'd like, so please check in occasionally over the next few days.  Thanks.  I didn't take one picture this year.  I was so busy blabbing!  I know.  Shocking!!

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