“Life is enriched by difficulty; love is made more acute when it requires exertion.” ― Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
When I think of heroism, it is not a single act, nor is it necessarily an act bathed in praise and recognition. When I think of bravery and character, there are no flapping capes or glistening swords, nor are there epic fights or power struggles. There are simply circumstances of intense adversity, and often deep emotional pain, wherein a person acts out of love instead of fear, overcomes the toughest moments, and comes out stronger on the other side. There are people in the world who do this in major ways, people like the Dalai Lama or even some close personal friends who have been attacked by dishonorable media campaigns, but not all heroic acts have a spotlight. They happen every day, all around us, often unnoticed, but once in a while, a spotlight is just what's necessary to raise us all up a little bit.
I recently met Amber Greenwalt at a convention in Houston, Texas. Actually, I met her at the airport where she recognized me immediately and greeted me with the warmth and enthusiasm of a not-so-distant relative. Her sweetness and positivity were palpable over the weekend too, whether it was visits at my table or the smiling face in the crowd at a panel, I always noticed and enjoyed her joyful presence. At some point over the weekend I learned that on top of being a smart and sweet Basttlestar enthusiast, she was also a mother of three who was facing some incredibly difficult struggles, including a 5-year old with Mitochondrial disease, a rare and (so far) incurable disease with a whole list of heartbreaking side effects. You can read more about her daughter's condition and her progress on the Saving Savannah Facebook page.
Speaking of heroes, Leah Cairns (Racetrack from BSG) is another woman I know with an iron will and infinite resilience when it comes to whatever life might throw at her. So it was no surprise when she emailed me about a joint initiative to help her five-year-old niece, Seattle (who has a similarly debilitating disease) and Savannah get the resources they need to express their true superhero selves. It turns out Seattle and Savannah, though they’ve never met, have a lot in common, and naturally, so do the families who love and support them. Both their stories are truly heartbreaking and inspirational. You can learn about Seattle and her journey on her Facebook page here. I know because after agreeing with ease to help promote their fundraising efforts through social media, I began to feel uneasy that I didn’t know exactly what I was promoting.
It’s painful to watch people struggle, and it’s even more painful to imagine what it would be like if you were in their shoes. It’s easy to think, ‘oh yes, that’s sad,’ and go back to our lives. So I tried to do the not so easy thing, I watched video after video, read articles, and thought about what it might be like to have a child with a life-threatening illness. I laughed, I cried, I thought about how grateful I am for my life, and how grateful I am for theirs, and how grateful I am for our paths intersecting so I could deepen my compassion and sense of what’s important in life. I don’t even claim to have a fraction of an understanding of what it must be like for these little girls and their families, but I do feel like my life is enriched in the attempt. I feel inspired by the will, the strength, the vulnerability and the love I see in Amber, Leah and Lindsay, and I feel hopeful for their efforts to not only improve the quality of their daughters' lives, but of all the lives they touch in the process.
I would encourage you, if you can, to hear their story. If you feel so inclined and are in a position to do so, there are many ways you can help Seattle and Savannah get the funds they need to live the carefree lives any five-year-old should. I don’t typically promote charities, but this is a cause with very real and beautiful results that can only blossom with your help, ones you’ll see in each one of these girls’ smiles. Thank you for your time. And thank you Amber, Leah and Lindsay for your bravery. You are all heroes in my books.
Here's what you can do:
- donate directly to the girls on their gofundme page
- share the above link on your twitter or facebook
- tweet @theellenshow to inspire the Ellen Show to bring Savannah and Seattle together to meet for the first time! what a beautiful christmas gift it would be!
- check out this huffington post article for more info and links
- read about their stories, be inspired + life joyfully!
C'mon, all the cool kids are doing it! Even President Roslyn.
Ps. Stay tuned for a separate campaign so that I, too, can meet these miniature superheroes on The Ellen Show.