When I was initially injured and first came home, I was inundated with visits from the wonderful folks in my community. They brought flowers, food and offers to help out in any way they could. One such visitor was my eighth grade math teacher, Elaine Golden. And her gift was unique.
I will be the first to admit I was not the best company at times. I was thrilled to be home, but it was a much more difficult transition than I expected. As best I can remember, I was happy at times, frustrated at times and numb with grief at times.
I was always happy to receive a visitor because they lifted my spirits so much… But some days were harder than others, and on those days, my smiles were limited.
Elaine had stopped over on one of my difficulties days. Why I remember this detail, I do not know. But as Elaine explained her gift, I remember trying to focus and understand exactly what she was saying.
She had started a foundation in my name. Money could be raised to put into it to benefit me and other individuals with disabilities. The best part of the foundation was it could grow in any direction I wanted, at any pace I wanted.
It took a little time for me to digest this. The first time I realized what an incredible gift she had given me was at our first fund raiser. It was a penny social in our town’s middle school gymnasium.
Elaine had done the majority of organizing for the event. She explained to the crowd what the funds raised were for and her hopes for the foundation. About $1200.00 was raised that evening.
Not long after, we had another fundraiser; A Polo Match we called “The Buckley Cup,” named after the farm where it was held. I was moving to Los Angeles for some unique physical therapy and we were raising funds to help cover the initial costs of moving and having a few months to get settled to find an apartment, a job, etc.
I lived in L.A. for five years. During that time, my family, close friends and countless volunteers held additional fundraisers. They raffled off a truck and started the First Annual Amy Alexander Foundation For Spinal Cord Injuries Golf Outing. In Fall 2014, we will be holding our 17th Annual Golf Outing. In Spring 2013, we held our first Walk-A-Thon.
All funds raised are put into the foundation. Due to others generosity, we have been able to offer home modifications, vehicle modifications, electronic equipment, medical equipment, and pay medical and physical therapy bills.
The foundation has also contributed to larger foundations including Wounded Warriors, The American Cancer Society, The Susan B. Komen Cancer Foundation and The Boy Scouts of America.
We are finding, however, trends for nonprofit foundations are changing. Due to the explosion of the Internet and in particular, social media, foundations are managed and marketed much differently. Flyers and posters have been replaced with websites and Facebook pages.
The trend for popular and financially successful fundraisers are changing, as well. Golf outings are being replaced with “Family Fun Days,” consisting of everything from arts and crafts, bouncy houses, miniature golf, petting zoos and food and wine tasting. No need for babysitters, and Mom and Dad can have fun, too!
The dream of our foundation is to be substantial enough to affect disabled peoples lives on a much larger scale. Instead of small home modifications, build accessible homes from foundation to roof…Send an individual to school if they need a different job post disability.
So many dreams and missions and goals… One lifetime is not enough!:-) I think that’s why I believe in reincarnation… You can’t get it all done in one lifetime. Depending what’s on your “to do” list, you may have to come back a few times to get it all done.
Big changes take time. Our foundation was started by a wonderful woman with the kindest of intentions. In twenty years, it has grown in leaps and bounds, and I’m looking forward to the changes that more time ultimately brings.