/ Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Before the 2009 MagicMeets becomes a distant memory, I wanted to share with you the letter that was read during the announcement of the auction totals:

“Dear Pat and Lou,

I just wanted to take a moment to give you a quick history on how this whole thing began.

It was back in January. I had just left the Tomorrowland Noodle Station, after having a great time at Lou’s first “Meet of the Month.” Since my kids were back at the room for a nap with my wife, and she gave me the go-ahead to have a little down time of my own, I decided to head over to Space Mountain for a quick ride.

While waiting outside of the ride for my FastPass time, I met a guy about my age, and his young son; they were both named Steven. They too were waiting to enter. We spoke for a few minutes and he was a bit concerned that his son wasn’t actually tall enough to get on the ride. He seemed very worried that Steven would never get to go on Space Mountain, as it had been the ride he was most looking forward to.

As our conversation continued, I realized that Steven was here on a Disney World vacation as a guest of Make-A-Wish. He had been diagnosed with cancer and according to the prognosis, this would be his one and only trip.

Now, perhaps the cast member would let him “slide” and enter, even though he was not the required height. But instead of taking that chance, I walked the both of them over to the nearby popcorn stand (I know you know the one, Lou) and we stuffed some folded napkins into little Steven sneakers until he was tall enough to make it on the ride.

(I do not promote this as a way to get you children onto rides before they are “legal” height, but never one to play totally by the rules I thought it was more than appropriate given the situation.)

To make an already long story just a bit shorter, we all entered without a hitch, they rode in the same ride car as I did and after they thanked me profusely, we went our separate ways.

I headed back to my room, taking them with me in my mind. A long bus ride back, alone, gave me time to think and be thankful for the good health of my own little ones.

We seem to float through the parks, always talking about the days when our own little ones will be able to join in and enjoy the rides we all know and love…never giving a thought to the fact that, that might not be the case for some. In reality, none of us are promised tomorrow.

Upon returning home from this trip, the two Stevens still in my mind, I decided to see what I could do to help.

I am blessed in the fact that, mostly through my work, I have many friends who are in the position to help out financially and are generous enough to do so without hesitation.

So after making some phone calls and pulling some strings, I was able to help bring together a nice donation for The Dream Team Project.

I am so grateful to you all for inspiring me to move ahead and try to make a difference. I hope that, in turn, I can inspire others to do the same, and best of all…I feel like I ACTUALLY am making some dreams come true in the process….”

The letter was unsigned, but the attached check for $10,000 was.

dream_team_check_2009_jpg

I remember meeting Tony, Charlene, and their two adorable boys at January’s Meet-of-the-Month. Tony had “friended” me a short time earlier on Facebook, and had stood out as the only person who followed up an acceptance with a short chat introducing himself. I didn’t know Tony then, but he was friendly and funny in the chat, and we agreed to say hi at the upcoming Meet.

We didn’t spend a long time talking at that meet. I know I made some joke about being glad he wasn’t some sort of crazy internet stalker, and Tony and Charlene both expressed interest in being a part of the Dream Team Auction staff. They stood in a very long line to meet Lou, and then Charlene took the boys back to the room for a nap. I think a bunch of us headed off to another meet in Adventureland, and we went on with our days.

Tony and Charlene followed through on their interest in being on the auction team. They came down to Long Island for wrapping weekend, bringing enough food for an army and all of it so delicious we ate like kings. Charlene arranged and cellophaned dozens of lots, while Tony manned the camera and photographed everything for the previews and grabbed some great candid shots as well. And the whole time they made us laugh and joke and feel like we had known them forever. They stayed until late at night, even with a long drive before them, and those who remained after they left quickly felt it was time to call it a night, as the energy source that had been keeping us all running had just departed.

It was much the same at MagicMeets. Charlene and Tony arrived early on Thursday, and we quickly caught up and enjoyed a relaxing evening chatting and eating. Friday we worked on setting up the auction and Minnie’s Mart, and I could not have asked for better help. They were there from morning until late at night, helping everywhere and doing anything that was asked, and especially in the case of the displays at Minnie’s Mart, doing it better. And they were back Saturday morning, working the entire day at the auction, always with a smile, a joke, and a “What can I do to help?”

Somehow I knew after the first paragraph of the letter that it had to be Tony’s writing. Which is probably the only reason I could read the whole letter aloud without breaking down in tears: I had to know for sure. And I couldn’t be happier that I was right, nor more amazed that they were able to keep such a big secret!

I have often said that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, not necessarily one we will understand or know about. Sometimes the only reason we meet a particular person is because they are here to give us a good kick in the pants and inspire us to do something we never dreamed we could do. Just as the two Stevens Tony encountered inspired Tony to do something incredible, I think Tony and Charlene, especially coupled with Justin’s keynote speech, gave us all a good pants-kicking.

Time will tell what wonderful things come out of it.

“In reality, none of us are promised tomorrow.” But we can work today to make tomorrow a better day for someone else. And in reality, that makes the world a better place for all of us.

 

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