The color Red. It means stop. It means anger. It means power. More importantly, it’s the color of your heart. And today, more than 2,000 hearts poured onto the streets of Baltimore to give their love, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, all for one purpose… the kids.
Anyone who has a child knows this fact to be true: the moment they are born, life is no longer about you. Life is about them, always and forever. You helped create the miracle, they share your soul, so when their soul is hurting, so is yours. When their heart is troubled, yours is too. When they are sick, or hurt, or suffering, you share their pain. When this happens, it’s the Ronald McDonald House which is a beacon of light during the darkest of times, especially when your child, your miracle must be hospitalized, or go through treatment and all you want to do is to be nearby. It’s a proven fact, children heal faster when surrounded by those that love them the most… their family. Love is life’s best medicine.
And today, there was plenty of good medicine to go around, because love was in the air, and a lot of money was raised because of it. Today was the second annual Red Shoe Shuffle to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore. The House provides the home away from home for the families of children who are sick, hurt or suffering. These precious miracles might require surgery, hospital stays, or treatment which means their families need to find a way to stay close. That’s where the House comes in. At little or no cost, it keeps love close at hand, because the families of these children now have a place which provides comfort and care, a place to call home.
The Red Shoe Crew is a group of young professionals associated with the House. Their mission, to engage, empower and inspire Young Professionals in Maryland to participate in philanthropic and leadership endeavors, and to build awareness of the Ronald McDonald House. To put it more simply, they lend heart and soul to the house that love built.
I serve on the Board of Directors for the House in Baltimore and couldn’t be more proud to be part of a such a terrific group. Everyone understands the purpose and the challenge at hand, stay true to the mission of the House and find ways to raise funds to make sure it remains the same beacon of light for the families who need it most. Apparently we are not the only ones who feel this way. Thousands donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore every year, their money and their time. Every bit helps, every bit makes a difference in the lives of those miracles. Today I was part of a much larger team from my office, New York Life Baltimore, 29 strong, but today’s walk was only a few hours in time. For the families, for the children who need it most, it’s more than just hours they face, it’s days, weeks, months, years, or perhaps a lifetime of challenges.
As I neared the final leg of today’s walk, I started thinking about this affirmation… you always get what you give. I disagree, it’s much more. When you give, you don’t just get back, you are transformed. To become more, you must help other to do the same, and in this case provide the opportunity for those children to become more, to heal, to get better, by providing a caring, loving place for their families to be close at hand. Sometimes the journey for these children has a happy ending, sometimes it does not. We can’t change the outcome, but we, through the House, try to make the journey as pleasant as we possibly can.
Today’s walk was the standard 5K, a little more than three miles in length. That’s nothing. Nothing compared to the hearts of the walkers, hearts growing many miles wide as the walkers made their way through the streets of downtown Baltimore. They say G-d gives you two hands in life, one to help yourself and one to help other people. The Red Shoe Shuffle is the perfect synergy of both. Walking gives you exercise that’s good for your heart, and your heart in turn touches those you have helped the most, the families whose children are faced with a tough journey and who need a place to stay, to make sure they get the best medicine the world has ever created, love.
As I made my way through the final steps of today’s walk I saw one of the race helpers holding a sign. I look for those things now – my own heart has been growing since I started this blog three months ago – and I needed to stop and take a picture. Do me a favor, scroll back to the top of and take another look at the sign, it is posted at the top of this blog. The sign says Thanks for giving up your Sunday morning to lift up someone else. I can assure you myself and 2,000 other people didn’t give up, instead we donated, our Sunday morning to participate, and we did much more than lift up someone else. We did the same for ourselves, it was like walking on air, knowing that your gift of time, of money, of body, can mean so much more for the young miracles who need it most.
That’s why we give. That’s why we love. Today, that’s why we shuffled.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.