My daughter came up to me with an honest concern, a concern that many of us have and feel everyday.
She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, “I feel bad when I see people with special needs. So many people are mean to them and call them names. I wish I could ask people to help them somehow, or ask people to give money.”
I smiled and gave her a hug. “I understand you feel bad about people with special needs, but they’re just living their day to day lives like you. You have problems, and they have a different set of problems. But, you can’t just go collecting money and then giving it to people with special needs. No doubt they would love to receive money from someone, but what about helping a group of organization that empowers and celebrates people with special needs?”
Her eyes lit up. She was amazed that she could do that. “Yeah, that sounds great. Do you of something like that? A place that helps and raises up people with special needs?”
“The Special Olympics. People with special needs are belittled, made fun of, and constantly reminded that they aren’t like everyone else. But for a few days they are celebrated. For those few days during the Special Olympics, they are around hundreds of people just like them, and they are no longer the minority in the crowd who is different, now they are the stars. For those days, they are no longer the “special need kid”, for that day they are a hero and they are an inspiration to everyone watching; especially the younger kids there that see that they too can compete in an Olympics like that.”
And she was off…..
She decided that going door to door wasn’t going to work. So she decided to ask her Principal if she could ask the teachers to put a jar in their room to collect pennies for the Special Olympics. The principal agreed and she created all of the jars and labels that night. The next day she gave each class a jar and stood up in front of the class and explained what the jar was for, that all she’s asking for is pennies, and what the Special Olympics is.
(A little back history here. She is 11 years old today…June 2. She did this two weeks ago. This isn’t here first fundraiser. She has already collected $75 for the Florida panther through facebook and paypal when she was 9. $35 dollars for All Children’s Hospital by sitting out in the front yard when she was 5. $20 dollars for a local domestic violence outreach center and shelter by selling her toys, and what didn’t sell she donated to the shelter as well when she was 8.)
She called and talked to as many people as she could and 2 people donated $50 in their own name each because, as they said: If an 11 year old gets it and knows we should be doing this, we can donate something. An uncle decided he should do something too, and donated $20. A young woman heard she was doing this and donated $10 on her own accord.
Then Friday before her birthday she collected all of the pennies. There were so many she and her mom had to both carry the jugs of pennies. They poured the pennies into the penny counter machine and waited for the total. Counting the bills, pennies, and checks the grand total that she collected for the Special Olympics because she thought there should be more people caring about kids with special needs than she has seen was:
Now, if you add up all of the other inspired donations, Autumn Skye Herman caused $240 to be donated to the Special Olympics. But this goes so much farther than that.
4 kindergarten classes of about 15 each.
2 1st grade classes of about 18 each.
3 2nd grade classes of about 22 each
2 3rd grade classes of about 26 each.
2 4th grade classes of about 26 each.
2 5th grade classes of about 24 each
for a total of 304 students
304 students who may have never heard of the Special Olympics and all the good they do, heard all about it, and helped collect money for it. Not only did they help collect money, they found that they could do this too. They could collect money and help pout a charity or organization they believed in. All it takes is the desire to help, and anything is possible. These 304 students found a voice in this little 11-year-old, and maybe…just maybe there will be more good coming from these 304 students.
This is the power of believing ion something, figuring out what to do to help, and making it happen.
So what is her next step…volunteer at the Special Olympics.
I tell you this store to inspire you. Inspire you to go out and use your passion, use you abilities and change the way the world sees something. Just by you talking about it, you have brought awareness. When you do something with the organization, you begin helping people. When you create a drive to fund this cause, more people will discover it and will begin to take notice. Remember, the Susan G. Komen foundation (The breast cancer research group, begin as 3 women talking over coffee and now they have 3 day walks that bring in millions, and empower the survivors and family of survivors to do more than they knew they could. Look at all the pink around…3 women drinking coffee.
You can do something; you can change the world. Autumn has been taught she can do this, and she has done some amazing things…and she’s only 11 and with pretty limited resources.
What can you do with your adult abilities and your larger resources?
What are you going to change?
This is what is possible.