Do you ever hear about tragedies and cancer patients and natural disasters and think to yourself: “For heaven’s sake! I’m just one person. What am I supposed to do about all this?”
It’s true that in a world of 7.5 billion souls, one person’s efforts in the face of all that affliction might seem inconsequential. But that would be overlooking that fact that every time someone acts with compassion, someone else’s burden grows a bit easier to bear.
As a lifelong wordsmith, allow me to point out that my use of the word “compassion” is truly intentional. The Latin roots for the term literally mean “to suffer with.” When we open our hearts to share in the suffering of those around us, we bring a little more light into the world and we’re often able to move to the next step of not just feeling someone else’s pain, but actually doing something about it.
Ty Tabat, Western sales manager for Signature Offset, the printing company where the pages of Wrangler News roll off the presses every two weeks, is one such person. He was moved with compassion for Kayley Maro, a teenager battling a rare, life-threatening disease. He discovered Kayley’s plight when he saw her Gofundme page listed on Facebook and reached out to the family.
“I asked them, ‘Do you want to raise more money?’” Ty told me on a recent visit to the Wrangler News office. I dug a little deeper into his motivation because, well, we’ve all seen these Gofundme pages chronicling tragedy and heard about people in dire straits, but mostly, we just keep rolling. Not Ty. He stopped.
“I had a brother who was sick,” he told me as he sat back in the chair pushed up against my crowded desk that day. “He was born with birth defects. He had cancer when he was 2 and we had a fundraiser for him when he was 3. That’s where this comes from.”
In Kayley’s case, she started getting sick when she was 7. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on at first. Then came the heart-shattering news: She was facing IGG4, a seldom-seen disease that attacks the body’s organs and leads to organ failure. Kayley’s insurance plan doesn’t cover the treatments she is receiving every two weeks at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, a teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School. Then there are the mounting travel expenses. What would you do if she were your daughter?
Ty decided he’d like to do something to help, so he organized a fundraiser dinner set for April 24 at Foothills Golf Club. (Purchase tickets at kmaro-fundraiser.eventbrite.com.) And while I’d like nothing more than to hear that Wrangler’s nearly 50,000 readers donated to Kayley’s cause (imagine what would happen if each of you gave $1!), I realize that’s unlikely. Instead, my hope is that everyone who reads these words will be moved with compassion and decide, like Ty, to do something to help alleviate the suffering of another human person they cross paths with today.
That co-worker of yours whose husband just left her? A kind word from you could bring hope. The stressed-out young mom at the grocery store? What if you paid her tab? The elderly gentleman down the street whose children never visit? Why not spend a little time listening to him, really listening? Be part of the healing process that brings people together, that builds stronger families and neighborhoods and communities. That’s the power of one person’s decision to reach beyond himself and make a difference in the life of another.
And when you hear about someone like Kayley, a senior in high school who dreams of college and battles a mysterious illness, maybe—just maybe—you’ll be moved with compassion and decide to help.
As Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the diminutive nun with the extra-large-sized heart once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”