On Thursday night, I was recognized as one of Utah’s Finest Under 40, one of 8 people (only 4 women) chosen. As one of the honorees, I raised money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and also wrote an essay on the spirit of helping others. The topic of the essay was as follows:
What does being recognized as Utah’s Finest mean to you and how has volunteering for charities, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, impacted your life?
My response garnered me with the Spirit Award.
“Mark Twain once said, “kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
I define it as something that forces nobility from the not-so-noble. It requires us to ask a lot of others we’ve never met, to help those we hardly know. Fighting Cystic Fibrosis is a noble and daunting task, and those who are affected have a lifelong assignment of a lesson, for which, they never signed up.
Being part of the fight allows me to use my ability to reach out to other Utahns to do good work that means so much to those affected. The young, like Elliot, who fight everyday to make it to another birthday; those slightly older, like Ashley, who look upon each year as borrowed time, who hopes research will stay just one step ahead of her.
Knowing our efforts will go to help them and those like them, has given me great pride. It has humbled me. It has encouraged me. I look forward to raising even more money next year, and have even had a volunteer or two approach me for ways to become involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
I know what it’s like to just want to be like everyone else. For there is rarely a feeling as lonely as being different, especially when you’re a child.
But as we grow older, we understand being different is what makes us special.. and overcoming adversity can give us a strength that can only come from inside. It’s almost like a hall pass that allows us to walk through life with more appreciation for it, more love of it, and more reason to want to give back to it.
What I’ve learned from this experience is that it epitomizes what is great about being Americans.. and about being Utahns. That we can fight together in great numbers on behalf of those who need us most.
I’ll end this essay as I began it – with a quote. This time, from a different kind of fighter, famed coach John Wooden, whom we lost just a few months ago. He said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
And even though we’re all being recognized tonight, I still want to thank the board. For they have helped me, in my own way, achieve that perfect day.”
My only regret about that night is that I had absolutely no idea I won, so I didn’t bring along my speech and basically sat up there and babbled on for a few minutes (big surprise!) as I accepted my award.
But I will repeat it.. this experience has challenged me, humbled me and most of all, inspired me.