July 22, 2007

"On the Road to Kathmandu"

When the hot “Dog Days of Summer” would drag on the kids in my neighborhood would band together and hold a backyard carnival for Muscular Dystrophy. Our clientele would be the kids who lived on other blocks and we would send the nickels and dimes that we collected from the bean bag toss or selling cookies and lemonade to the mail man off to Jerry Lewis for “his kids”. This was my first exposure to fund raising.

I have tried over the years to limit myself to contributing and working for two specific charities, Lions International and Autism Research. I choose them because of the manner in which they distribute and use the monies that they raise. Also, in the case of the Lions, as a member, one can take a very hands on approach and see the fruits of this organizations labors in ones own community.

Please get me off your mailing list!!!

A few years back I made a contribution to a major organization in memory of my uncle, as desired by his family. The production costs for the volume of printed mail solicitations I have received in exchange for that $25 contribution has to far exceed the value of my original donation. The experience has served to solidify my resolve to stick with supporting my chosen two and now I rarely make any exceptions.

Like many others I support my charities for personal reasons, because somehow the particular cause has impacted my life in some way: Lions Int’l because I have a teen that is legally blind and Autism Research because that same child has a high functioning form of the syndrome.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will once again be hosting their annual MusicFest in Nomahegan Park, Cranford this coming September, in conjunction with that event there will also be a walkathon raising money for cancer and stem cell research and support.

Though I don’t mention it often, like Freeholder Deborah Scanlon, I too am a survivor of the dreaded disease, stricken when I was in my very early thirties I thought that perhaps I might expand my charitable horizons and help others to be as fortunate as I am, but first I would check the situation out in depth. http://www.ucmusicfest.com/

County Manager George Devanney has had articles in many local newspapers and an insert in the recent Union County Directions newspaper regarding his recent cancer scare and how it has impacted on his life. Recently he managed to team up with his college rock idol, a two time cancer survivor and put together the “Rock On! Walkathon” benefiting the performers Love Hope and Strength Foundation, this same entertainer will be walking and performing that day as well.

The sign up sheet to participate, alongside George is featured on the county’s website and list the premiums walkers are eligible to receive depending on the level of money which the walkers raise. One hundred dollars will garner a t-shirt, $250 the same along with a surprise gift bag and walkers raising $1,000 will receive a shirt, gift bag and invitation to a VIP Reception on Sept. 14 with surprise guests.

Devanney has made it no secret that he would like to accompany the singer and others when they make a fund raising trek to the Base Camp of Mount Everest, in Nepal, for an event called “Everest Rocks” which appears to be a mountain climbathon. The foundations website explains that Mike Peters, the performer will be “leading 40 musicians, mountaineers, cancer survivors, those who lives have be affected by cancer and invited friends on the adventure of a lifetime and is a 14 day trek and acoustic concert at the base camp with a grand finale rock concert in Kathmandu.”

The site goes on to say that the entire journey will be captured by an MTV and BBC documentary team as well as a writer and photo journalist for a feature in Outside Magazine and funds raised from the Everest Rocks Event will provide funding to the Nepal Cancer Society.

The site also has links to the Trekkers bios and reasons for wanting to participate in the trip with a meter showing the money they have raised so far. About a quarter of the way down is George Devnney’s link and it appears that the needle on his meter has barely moved. In the Directions article he thanks “So many who have offered to help raise the money needed for the trek” and “others who have lent their kind words and spiritual support”. http://lovehopestrength.com/everest/archives/category/george-devanney/

Another link states that a requirement to join the trek of a lifetime is a $25,000 donation which appears to be raised thru donations. At the tail end of Devanney’s article he states: “I hope others join with me to help educate and bring about a cure” urging readers to obtain more information at the website http://www.lovehopstrength.com/ followed by “To make a contribution in my name, click on Everest rocks, than trekkers to view participants.” It appears that the premium to entice participants in this fund raising effort is a trip to Mt. Everest which will be viewed on TV around the world.

Admittedly I would have personally raised money to buy air conditioners for Eskimos if the opportunity to spend two weeks with John, Paul, George or Ringo had presented itself. And please don’t think for one minute that I am trivializing Mr. Delaney’s personal trauma or that I don’t believe in finding a cure for cancer and especially early detection however I find it rather distasteful that our county manager appears to be enriching himself personally with the assistance of the Freeholder Board and other legislators by using the county’s resources so he can rub shoulders with the idols of his youth.

Undoubtedly the question that can be raised is will the credit for the efforts of the Union County walkers go toward Devanney’s $25,000 donation to enable him to make the trek?

The walkathon could have been an admirable endeavor if the monies to be raised were to be turned over to charitable causes here in Union County such as the Center for Hope Hospice rather than going to, what some believe to be controversial, embryonic stem cell research or overseas to Nepal.
Click here to see the Everest Rocks link http:http://lovehopestrength.com/everest/