Paying it Forward

I met two families last week. Two families who did not know each other, yet are now connected by the generosity of one and the gratitude of another. One searching for closure after the loss of a husband and father to brain cancer and the other family knee-deep in a chaotic and stressful battle as a mother and wife fights a brain tumor. 

It was a simple, straight forward email that I received through my SBTF email. A family had a motorized wheelchair that had barely been used by the husband/father. It had been almost a year since he had passed and the family wanted to donate it to another patient who could use it. They wanted no payment, just the assurance that the chair would be used and not sold for profit.  

As a board member it was an opportunity to help and use our support and outreach resources . As a patient it was a welcome project helping one family move on from their loss while at the same time easing another patient and family’s stress as they fight their own war against a brain tumor.

Within a few days, and a dozen emails, we were able to place the chair with a patient. Amazingly, the patient would not have to worry about accessibility issues at home or with a vehicle. As it turned out, the patients husband is a disabled military veteran in a wheelchair himself, hence their home and van were already wheelchair accessible. 

As the go-between between the two families and my team of angels at Emory who were able to find the patient for the chair, I was able to hear the stories, the challenges and struggles they have both faced and of course the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the journey. 

This past Saturday the chair became a much-needed “good thing” for one family as they accepted a profoundly generous gift from another family who was equally moved by the simple gesture of kindness and the greater good of easing another patient and family’s experience. 

Driving two hours round trip to meet the family who was donating the chair to extend my thanks in person was something I am so glad I did.  There are many themes, messages and life lessons this story brings to light, so to pick one seems to trivialize the whole experience. Take from it what it gives to you. I walk away reassured  by the profound and permanent impact you can have in someone else’s life by simply doing the right thing.

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