So every once in awhile when you're playing rock, paper scissors, you get some wiseguy that decides to shun the rules and throw a stick of dynamite in the mix. We all know what happens then. The game is over because you didn't know you could even use dynamite and that curve ball throws off your whole strategy.
To me, pediatric cancer is like a stick of dynamite in a child's life. And not just the figurative kind.
Cancer blasts away their sunny carefree days and replaces them with painful, scary treatments. The treatments inevitably take away their hair, leaving them feeling different and weird and even more unlike everybody else than they already did when they heard their diagnosis. Suddenly the normal days of school and playing in the backyard are replaced by sterile hospital rooms. In the game of life, an unfair and unexpected stick of dynamite has shaken the foundation that they stand on.
Did you know that each year, 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide? And that cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. and Canada?
I honestly had no idea, until my dear friend, a true hero in my mind, stepped up to bat to help beat pediatric cancer by shaving his head for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
So Kevin decided to set his goal at $2,000, and I'll be honest, I thought that was a little lofty. He only had a few short weeks to raise that money, and most people our age right now aren't rolling in the dough. I knew I'd contribute, but I didn't have as much to give as I truly wanted to.
Well I definitely underestimated Kevin's mad fund raising skills. He got to $2,000 quickly and threw in an extra motivator. If he raised $3,000 before the day of the event, he'd shave off his beard too and just rock a single mustache.
Using office guerrilla marketing techniques, multiple posts a day on the events page on Facebook, and even personalized FB wall posts: "Hey John, did you know true Clemson fans like to help beat pediatric cancer?" - Kevin didn't just raise $3,000. He raised over $3,600.
Here are some pictures of his transformation:
I know his dad, who lost his battle with cancer, is extraordinarily proud of his boy today.
I know Kevin's grandmother, who is fighting cancer right now, is fighting even harder.
I know that Davis T., the little boy that is honored by Kevin's fund raising efforts, is smiling because he knows he's not alone in this fight. Because 110 strangers came together to help him today.
Needless to say, Kevin had a whole cheerleading section come to watch him go bald this afternoon.
Being at this event today, I had no idea how emotional I'd get. The weight of the cause and the reality of the treatments became so real as we watched men and women and children lose every bit of hair on their heads.
I kept thinking about the personal sacrifice that so many of these people were making.
I kept fighting back tears as I thought of the friends that I knew that had had their families torn apart by this vicious disease. I saw this mother and daughter team step forward to have their heads shaved. They were honestly two of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen. They just radiated beauty from the inside out. They raised $15,000 for pediatric cancer.
And I realized, suddenly, that we can ask all day long why bad things happen. We can wonder and worry and fret about pediatric cancer or the complete obliteration of Japan after the earthquake or the mess that's still in Haiti or the revolution in Libya.
But we can also think to wonder why anyone would ever step forward to have his or her head shaved when he or she didn't have to.
We can wonder why there are still people working tirelessly in Haiti.
We can wonder why so many people are taking money and time and sending prayers over the people of Japan.
Because that is almost more inexplicable than cancer.
In our over-mediated, sensationalized society, it's normal to hear about the bad things. So normal that sometimes I think we wonder if we serve a truly GOOD God. But y'all, with all the good that I saw going on today, I saw how God is working. He is working all the time to fight through the hurt and the brokenness. And I guess if we didn't have any hurt or brokenness, how could we ever experience healing, or goodness, or miracles?
I remember a friend of mine telling this story to me once, and I'll leave you with it.
For now, my hat is off to you, Kevin Jenko. You are a powerful ray of light in a dark world, and I for one couldn't be prouder of you and your bald head!!!!
Now I know:
Does evil exist?
The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?
A student bravely replied yes, he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes, sir," the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil."
The student became quiet before such an answer.
The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?" "Of course", replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.
The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.
The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does".
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. "These manifestations are nothing else but evil."
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down.
The young mans name --- Albert Einstein.