As the photo above suggests, this photo was taken 3 years ago today. I’m sure most reading this know immediately what this photo represents. It was the day that I completed the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to support awareness for ALS disease. It was an incredible challenge that spread like wildfire across the nation and globe through social media and traditional media outlets. As I did the ice bucket challenge 3 years ago, I did it specifically for my Uncle who was battling ALS at that time. I felt that it was a simple gesture that I could send in support of him and his battle. Little did I know at the time that less than 16 months later, I would learn that I too had a disease, and that I too would need simple and unexpected gestures of support.
In the 3 years since this photo was taken, I have lost family, neighbors and friends to a variety of health diseases/illnesses. I have also witnessed a large number of other family and friends go through difficult times. Maybe not death or disease, but challenges like sudden work loss, financial strife, family issues, tough times raising children, depression, anxiety, or something as simple as having a really crappy day/week/month.
My purpose for writing this blog today is to gently remind us all that Everyone is Going Through Something. For me and my recovery, some of the moments that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life are the most simple and unexpected gestures from friends, neighbors and family. It may have been a get well card from a cousin that I haven’t talked to in a while, a text message from old friends, a meal from a neighbor to help my wife and my kids, a call from a college roommate, or a simple hug from those that are closest to me. When you’re going through something challenging, it doesn’t take much to make a positive difference.
With all of the hate and divisive rhetoric going on throughout our country these days, I think it would be wise for us all to be reminded of how so many people banded together 3 years ago to make a positive message go viral for those battling ALS. Our gestures don’t have to go viral and reach millions of people at every corner of the earth to make a difference. A simple gesture can make someone’s day, and that is enough. And because you never know what someone is going through, your simple gesture may just change or even save their life.
It’s impossible to put into words what the simple gestures meant to me as I went through my most challenging moments, but I am beyond grateful. I’m not suggesting any crazy viral challenge, but I simply challenge anyone reading this message to extend a simple and unexpected positive gesture to one (or many) friends, family, neighbors or strangers.