Words & Banter

A Boy. A Man. A Wish.


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I have a confession. Although you've been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades and told me countless wish stories, I've never been moved to tears. Until this weekend.


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Why? It is not like you were at Tommy Austin's 80th birthday celebration on Saturday. Almost none of the speakers could get through their comments without crying. As you know, there would be no Make-A-Wish without Tommy, as it all started back in 1980 with him wanting to do something special for Chris Greicius, a 7-year-old boy who was battling leukemia and wanted to be a police officer.


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Those are the facts, yes. But when you invited Sawyer to join you, and emailed us the link to the story that inspired Make-A-Wish video, it sat in my inbox until Saturday afternoon. I was clearing emails and found it, and thought it was a good time to watch it, especially since I knew you were at the party. And that's when the facts of Make-A-Wish became something so much more.


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You may have been watching it at the same time we were, as they used it to open the tribute to Tommy. I have known him for decades, so am very familiar with the story, but it is a powerful reminder of how people came together to grant a young boy his wish, and how that single wish touched so many lives.


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Yes, the ripple effect it created was truly amazing, as it led to the creation of The Make-A-Wish Foundation. But what brought me to tears, and made me go through more tissues than I'd care to admit, were the words of Chris's mother, "This was something I was totally helpless to do" but that Tom was able to pull it off with help from others.


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I cannot imagine the helplessness a parent must feel when their child has a serious illness.


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Trust me, hearing those words made my heart hurt. But I smiled when one of the other founders explained that after Chris had passed, with his wish having been fulfilled beyond his wildest dreams, that everyone involved looked at each other and said, "There are more children out there; let's go find them" and how it snowballed from there. It made me want to cheer and shout, "Yes!"


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"Snowballed" is an understatement. Now, 41 years later, Make-A-Wish has made such a huge difference … granting more than 500,000 wishes, with chapters around the world … and bringing hope and joy to the wish kids and their families.


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I can't begin to imagine how proud Tommy Austin must be to know that his simple desire to make one boy a little happier would lead to so much more.


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The word I would use is "humble," as Tommy believes he is merely the messenger and refuses to take any credit, explaining he was only trying to make Chris' life better. But, there was a room full of people who saw it differently, and told heartwarming stories about Tommy.


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It sounds like it was the best 80th birthday party ever, and he certainly deserved it.


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It was so much more. And, we surprised him by announcing that in honor of his 80th birthday, The Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana had created a "Circle of 80" to kick-off the Tommy Austin Wish Fund.


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That's so perfect. Although I've never met him, from watching the video I think that the best gift one could give Tommy would be to help grant the wish of a Make-A-Wish child. For that matter, it may be one of the greatest gifts any one of us could give …

Whether it's becoming involved with a local Make-A-Wish chapter or simply by making a donation … never underestimate the power of a wish!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Who would ever think of “celebrating” credit card debt? Not celebrating paying it off – celebrating a mountain of credit card debt. Well, Black thinks Red’s credit card debt is worth celebrating, or at least this story about it is. And not just because April is Financial Literacy Month.

When Red was in the midst of her crisis (her husband unexpectedly got fired), she was freaking out about everything, especially money. And specifically, her credit card debt. If she could have remained an ostrich with her head in the sand, she would have. But Red knew she needed to face the facts (although she hadn’t run a total of how much they owed on credit cards, she knew it was a lot), so, with much trepidation, Red turned to Black, hoping she’d just tell her what to do.

Instead, Black wanted to give her a history lesson. On credit cards?! Black doesn’t even like history. And even though Red, who loves history, didn’t want to hear it, she decided to take the path of least resistance and humor her sister.

At first, she found it mildly interesting, but then that “unwanted” history lesson changed Red’s life. That might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Because as soon as Red changed how she looked at credit cards, it changed how she used them.

Don’t believe it can make that much of a difference? Read “RED & BLACK … The History Of Credit Cards?” and decide for yourself.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

Red lives in an extremely diverse community (very different from the community we grew up in), and over the past few years, there’s been an increase in hate crimes and general “nastiness” directed toward people who are “different”. So, in honor of Celebrate Diversity Month, we’re rerunning this Conversation Starter in which Red remembers the first time she met a Black person, and Black … well, Black talks about Dr. Spock?!





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Growing up on Long Island in a Jewish home, I didn’t think twice about my best friend (who’s still a close friend) being Italian, although we did have different cultural and religious beliefs. And although we lived close to New York City, it wasn’t until I went to college in North Carolina that I met a Black person (and a Southerner, no less). She and I quickly became good friends and laughed at the fact we had the same last name, but that’s where the similarities ended. Yet, I had never really thought about diversity, or to be honest, even heard of the term, until you had us working on Career & Technology Education (CTE) curriculum, and we did a soft skills worksheet on it. That’s when I discovered that “diversity” was actually a “thing”, although lately, it seems to have become a political topic .

But once I was aware of it, I realized how much I learned from being friends with people who have different perspectives and experiences than I do. Of course, having a sister who at times seems more like a Vulcan, likes to push me outside my comfort zone, and makes me look at things from different viewpoints, has made me a better person – both in terms of newfound knowledge as well as a greater appreciation for how and why others may see things differently .


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Vulcan or otherwise, there were things to learn from Spock, which highlights the importance of diversity. In the broadest context, diversity introduces us to unique experiences and perspectives. In the workplace, it is often referred to as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), but I will stick with diversity (for now), which includes not only race, sex, and age, but also gender and sexual orientation, disabilities, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status, and I am guessing there are other differentiators. I think it is as simple as accepting that not everyone is alike. (How boring would that be? It would be like only having vanilla and chocolate ice cream.) And, recognizing that differences are not right or wrong; they are differences.

From a business perspective, the more you look at things from different angles and perspectives, the more fully (and more creatively) you will see things, which in turn, helps you better understand and provide value to your target market.

I know I said I would not get into equity and inclusion, but I love this quote from Vema Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • Define diversity. What does diversity mean to you? What are its challenges and benefits?
  • The concept of diversity in the workplace encompasses acceptance and respect. But that also applies to your personal life. How can your actions and behavior help or hinder the situation?
  • Are your friends and workplace associates a diverse group of people? If so, what have you learned from them? If not, why not? And would you be willing to proactively get to know people outside your "usual” circle?
  • Do you think “diversity” is seen differently by different generations? Why?

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As you know, I love history, but I appreciate many people don’t.


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I am one of those people, so not sure where you are going with this.


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Exactly. So, when you first wanted to talk to me about the history of credit cards, I should have known something was up.


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Or, at least been curious.


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How was I supposed to know it would make a difference in my life?


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Why else would I want to give you a “history lesson”?
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