My Xtreme Hike Story
I'm about to do something really stupid to get you to donate.
Tell you what...I'm going to hike across the Grand Canyon in one day. That's right, rim to rim. Twenty-five miles as the tourist plods. I'm going to descend a vertical mile through various climate zones, cross the mighty Colorado River on a rickety bridge, and trudge back up the switchbacks on other side. Before the sun goes down.
And all you have to do is donate some money to a really good cause...
The fight with Cystic Fibrosis is one we can win
When I first met my stepson James, he was thirteen, and had already long outlived the life expectancy for a kid with untreated CF; children used to starve or suffocate on their own lungs before they started kindergarten. Today, he's an independent, fully-functioning adult, and is practically asymptomatic. Like, healed.
As a child, James spent several hours, every day doing uncomfortable, boring therapy to stay alive. Nowadays, he takes a pill and goes about his life. This is entirely because of mind boggling advances in our understanding and treatment of the disease.
In the two decades since James was born, the median life expectancy for a person with CF has shot up from twenty-something to fifty-something! If we keep our momentum, James–and thousands of other kids–can expect to live a full, human life.
Why Cystic Fibrosis is a special cause
Here's the thing: only about 35,000 Americans have Cystic Fibrosis. When you know one, one is plenty to move you to action. But that's too small a market for Big Pharma to invest in, and for a long time, progress toward treatment had been slow. Until, that is, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation pioneered a "venture philanthropy" model, funding research through private donations. A bunch of folks like you and I have been bankrolling the bulk of the progress. Private donations, large and small, go directly to exploring and developing new therapies, and everything that goes with it.
James isn't the last one
On an optimistic day, it seems safe to hope that James is in the clear. But CF is complex, and there are many more versions of this disease–caused by various mutations–that we have left to crack. There are kids being born all the time with rarer forms of CF who haven't benefitted from the remarkable treatments that gave James a normal life. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is relentlessly committed to finding a cure for each and every one of them.
I love being a part of this community because I get to work with so many people who move heaven and earth to give some real hope to that kid who was dealt a crap hand. What impresses me most is probably the scores of folks I've met who have already lost their people to CF; they do what they do so the next kid can have a real shot.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation needs–and absolutely deserves–our support.
A lot of the CFF fundraisers are galas, where well-heeled folks get together to drink fancy cocktails and bid on luxury vacations. The proceeds, which are usually considerable, go straight to the cause. These are fun and a little bit indulgent. More importantly, they're effective. The fact that status is so neatly tied up with generosity is, in my liberal arts-educated opinion, one of the finest ways in which we humans have reconciled our bizarre foibles with with our higher virtues. Have fun, show off a little, do some real good. I believe that altruism is at once self-motivated and good for humanity.
This fairly crazy hike is a different kind of flex. I can hike across the Grand Canyon, so I'm gonna do it. In so doing, I hope to catalyze some action. It's a hook, y'know? I do something outrageous to get your attention, and then I try a little nudge to get you to do what you were probably going to do anyway at some point. But I want you to do it now, and for a thing I believe is important!
Will you donate?