She dropped to the ground, crying, and all I could do was drop down and hold her in front of a hundred silent people. In that moment, this stranger became the most important person in the world, and that was where I learned the power of a community.
In 2018, the most popular way for CrossFit Gyms to give to breast cancer research was through large non-profits. I wanted to help someone close to home directly. So that September, I reached out to the oncology department of UAMS and asked, “Do you have someone you hate to see this happen to and could really use a hand with finances?”
They had the patient. I had the connections.
“Bring her to this address on October 22nd at this time.”
Then I invited as many crossfitters as I could to come to my gym and do a workout on that day. They just had to donate some money, or buy a shirt, and I would match all of the money raised, and we would donate it to a great program for breast cancer.
Over a hundred people showed up.
The doctor that UAMS sent arrived as we finished the last workout and waited by the front door for her time to speak to the crowd. Behind her stood the patient, her mother, and her young son. As far as I knew, she was under the impression that she was an example of the people who are fighting and can win. After a short talk about how far they had come in breast cancer research, applause rose in the air and filled the room. My gym is a huge warehouse with metal walls that echo any small noise, so it was incredibly loud. Her son quickly learned to cover his ears.
Then the doctor handed me the microphone.
I don’t remember what all I said, but it was something like,
“Organizations receive help every day, but good people don’t, and they should. Everyone here decided to come together and do something about that. So, from them to you, here is a check for two thousand dollars. Use it for whatever you need right now.”…
So there we were, huddled over in tears in front of a huge crowd.
And I’m sure they were all there; the noise, the people, the microphone, the loudly colored pink barbells, and weights. There are pictures to prove it.
But I don’t remember any of them from that moment.
Right then, the only real thing was a person in front of me, overwhelmed, and whose life may be changed for the good, even just by the smallest amount. And that changed me.
I think all I could say to her when we were huddled together was, “Bad stuff happens all the time, but good stuff needs to happen to.”
Good things don’t just happen to people. Good people happen to us. That day lives with me so long as I live.
If you’re reading this and were one of the people there, please don’t take offense to me saying that I forgot you were there, but I did, and it’s your fault. The good nature and kindness you took part in, took me away from you, and overwhelmed me.
I saw the power of a community to take the bitterness away from the world and put good into it.
Even if just for a moment.