Monday, 16 May 2016

What's next?

When the wildfires in Fort McMurray happened a couple weeks ago, I knew what would come next.

It's the same thing Trish and I experienced almost nine months ago.

Love. Support. People saying "we are here for you, anything you need!"

In the moment people want to help. It's amazing. On Saturday alone in Medicine Hat there were two charity barbecues raising money for Fort McMurray relief. Both were huge successes.

The problem is, there's always someone or something else that needs helping. What happens to causes and people once the help moves on to the next one?

Some are so big you can't help but continue to support them. Terry Fox is a good example: Terry died 35 years ago from his cancer, after bringing all of Canada together in his quest to run coast-to-coast raising money and awareness. Now, every year, there's a worldwide charity run in his honour. Thousands of communities participate. Millions of dollars are raised.

Other tragedies fade quicker. Before two weeks ago, few Albertans had recently thought of the fires that destroyed much of Slave Lake in 2011. You might think of 9-11 only once every few months if you didn't have a direct connection to it. And that friend down the street whose child died 20 years ago? Who outside their family can say when it happened, or even why the child died anymore?

So many of us are emboldened by keeping the memory of our loved ones alive long after they're gone. I don't remember who said you live as long as people utter your name, but it's true. And naturally, I want to do everything I can to make sure Dominic is remembered long after I'm gone.

It's a bit of a foolish ambition, really. Because there will always be a new Dominic in people's lives. A new tragedy is always unfolding. People move on, memories fade, that's life. And the truth is, from a fundraising point of view, you need to keep finding new tragedies to inspire people to give, otherwise the stream of money dries up.

It's not easy to see it fade when you're close to it. The last blog I wrote has 290 page views as of my writing this new one. When Dom was alive, new posts would break the 1,000 mark in days.  Last year we raised $46,000 - US! - as a #Dominicstrong team through Extra Life. Right now it's at $2,165 and our goal of $20,000 this year feels impossible.

When I spoke in Lethbridge a few weeks ago I didn't expect to be back anytime soon. But I've committed to helping run a panel about Extra Life at the Nishikaze (anime) convention at the University of Lethbridge next Saturday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. I'm as motivated as ever to give back to the Alberta Children's Hospital.

This past Saturday Trish and I spoke at our local Costco to a group of about 15 employees. They ask at the till whether shoppers would be interested in donating a couple extra dollars to Children's Miracle Network, and it's good to remind them of why it's so important and how valuable those dollars are. There's a nice setup near the cafeteria at the front of the building with an incubator, CMN promotional materials and the familiar balloons customers can sign when they donate.

We then went shopping, and at every till was a poster - reminding folks they can also donate to Fort McMurray relief. And for one, horrible second I was angry it wasn't mentioning the hospital fundraiser we'd been brought in to talk about.

It's OK if things fade. Doesn't make them any less important. There will always be something big at the forefront of people's minds, and it's not reasonable to expect them to choose what you're passionate about at something else's expense.

We then went to one of the Fort McMurray relief barbecues. We almost didn't stay to eat our food after paying. There were kids and families everywhere. Bouncy castles and face painting.

He would have loved it.


  1. As always your comments are gracious and insightful. People will be passionate and caring but our attentiom will shift to the crisis of the day. You recognize this and, instead of giving in to anger, you are accepting and allow people to be people. I expect if I had a loss like yours I would want to try to immortalize my child. Realistic or not please know that, for some of us, Dominic is forever. His picture is on my dressing table and I think if him often. Whether or not you can meet your charitable goals, Dominic will continue to bring a smile and a tear to the faces of everyone who followed his journey. He will continue to inspire us and we are all better for his gifts. Thanks for checking in every once in awhile. Be well.

  2. I don't know you. I don't know Trish. I never met Dominic. I have followed your blog through knowing Erin. Your words were, and still are, powerful; your photos sincerely captivating. Because of you sharing your family's story, because of Dominic, I will not only continue to remember him, I will continue to support your cause.

  3. I don't know you, I don't know Trish, I never met Dominic. I followed your blog through knowing Erin. I followed your posts with anticipation of what may be coming next. I still do. Your words were powerful, your photos sincerely captivating. Because your family shared this story, because of Dominic, I will continue to not only think about Dominic, but will continue to support your cause.