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Letter to the editor: A donation is a gift - no strings attached

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I am very saddened to hear that Zach Gabbard and his family have not received any money from the funds raised on his behalf since July.

Why? I have made numerous donations to the Zach fund during Zach's long recovery. Granted, all totaled, my donations are a pittance in the grand total of all funds raised. For me though, it is not about the amount, but about the principle as a whole.

When I give a donation to someone, I do not give it with any strings attached. It is for the family to do whatever it is they wish to do with it. If they need to buy a bag of groceries, a tank of gas for their car, or go on an extravagant trip to make memories with their family members, so be it! If they wanted to buy a new car, I wouldn't care. They are responsible for their own decisions, just as we will be held accountable for how we live our own lives.

I know that some of the issue has to do with saving some of the money for Zach's future.

I am told that it is not yet determined by Zach's doctors, what his future will look like as his recovery progresses, or if he has already reached full capacity in his recovery process. Only time will tell with that. None of us has a crystal ball that says one way or the other. We can all speculate until we are blue in the face, but only God knows what is going on in Zach's body and in his brain. His future is in God's hands, not ours!

I do not want to blame anyone for anything. I think that all parties involved probably have Zach's best interest at heart. My problem with this is that it has happened in this community at least twice before, that I know of.

Our community rallied around a family several years ago whose father was diagnosed with cancer, and he was fighting for his life. Over the period of his illness, the family racked up enormous medical bills. A fundraiser was planned for this family, and a substantial amount was raised. Everyone who worked on that fundraiser felt good about the outcome of our hard work.

As the father slowly got some energy back from all of his treatments, they chose to use the money to go on a trip out of the country - a trip that had always been a dream of his. His future was still unsure at the time of the trip, and he did not know for sure that he had much of a future left with his family. So they took a trip! People complained openly that the money should not be used for that, and criticized the family for using the money that way.

When I planned, worked, and gave my donation to this family, I did not say, "Well, you can use the money for 'this' but not for 'that!'" It was given as a gift, without any strings attached.

The second time I was involved with a rather large fundraiser was when a fellow classmate of my older son's, who also happened to be a fourth grader at the time, went blind and had a reoccurrence of cancer. She was diagnosed at age one with cancer to her eye, which resulted in the loss of that eye. Then years later she was struck again with the disease, and went totally blind.

I had worked with the student in the elementary school where I was employed at the time, and became good friends with her mom, who was a single mother. I was quite involved with the planning of the fundraiser, as well as a big support to this family, as they went through a horrible time with treatments, complications, tube feedings, and other worries that go along with someone who is ill and suffering.

We had a very successful fundraiser, and a lot of money was made for the family. Same problems, though - the mom wanted to use some money to improve the living conditions for her family. She wanted to use funds from the fundraiser to upgrade the heating and plumbing system that was in the trailer house they were living in at the time. It was always very cold in there, and they had a hard time keeping their pipes from freezing in the winter, which many times meant that they did not have any running water.

I remember having to make some very unpleasant calls to the people who were in charge of the money, to find out why this money was not given to the family, when they had repeatedly asked for it. I was told that the money shouldn't be used to fix up a trailer, that that was a poor investment.

I was livid to say the least. Not all of us have $100,000 homes to go home to everyday. Eventually, after much persistence, the family got the money.

I guess my point to all of this is that we have not walked one step in these people's shoes. We have no idea the struggles and hardships that they have faced, or some of the tough decisions that they have had to make.

Why do we think it is our right to decide how someone should spend their money? Would any one of us tolerate being told what to do with our own paychecks? I think not! I have not met anyone who would tolerate being told what decisions should be made, and when, and how they should do it, or how it should be paid for, or whether it should be done at all.

I am not perfect. I have judged others. I am as guilty as the rest of this universe. I just do not want to see these things continuing to happen to people that have not asked for or have not deserved these hardships in their lives.

We just had another very successful fundraiser a week and a half ago in our community. Please do not allow this to happen to yet another family.

If you give a donation, please make it clear to those involved that what you gave is a gift to be used as the family sees fit - no strings attached!

Better yet, give the money directly to the people you want to have it - let them be responsible for how they choose to use it.

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