• New Runner Turns Health Goal Into Helping Others


    When Jason Bass turned 40 years old, he knew something had to change. He felt unhealthy and wanted to lose weight. He was having a mid-life crisis of sorts and he decided running was the answer.

    “I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. I always talked about losing weight, getting healthy, and running marathons but that was just it. I talked about it, dreamed about it, but never had the courage to start until last December.”

    A principal at an Indiana high school, Bass soon decided he wanted to pair his journey to health with helping others–specifically children.

    “A few years ago, I had a student who was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I’ll always remember the smile on her face and the excitement in her voice as she talked about her wish.  Furthermore, I wanted to work with an organization where the benefits (donations) could be felt immediately.  It is my hope that upon returning from the Goofy Challenge the donations given towards ‘Running 4 Wishes’ will be used to grant an extra magical wish for a child with a life threatening medical condition.”

    Around $6,000 to $7,500 will grant a wish for a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

    “I want to do something that motivates me each and every day; something that will inspire others to do more even when they think they can’t; but most importantly, I wanted to do something that will directly benefit children,” Bass wrote on his blog, Running 4 Wishes, on February 13, 2011.

    In four days from today, Bass will make his way to Disney to run in the “Goofy Challenge” marathon where he will be running both a mini-marathon and a full marathon in the same weekend. He is still around $3,000 short of his goal. He paid for the trip to Disney with his own money so that all donations received can go directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    When asked if he planned to continue running after the “Goofy Challenge” Bass replied, “That’s the plan after a few weeks off to rest and recover. I hope to run the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May 2012 and another full marathon in the fall of 2012. I also plan on trying to qualify for the New York City Marathon.”

    How Can You Help Jason Meet His Goal?

    Visit Jason’s “Running 4 Wishes” donation page and easily and securely donate online. But hurry! You only have until January 9, 2012! You can help change a sick child’s life!

     

    WritRams_JasonBass_MakeAWish

     

     

  • Everyday Warrior Supports Soldiers with Spotlight, Asks for Posts


    I generally reserve the “GiveBackIn” section for nonprofit businesses or organizations that are doing really great things to help others. On occasion, though, an individual comes along with a cool idea that I think is worth sharing. Betsy Moats from the blog “Everyday Warrior” is one of those people.

    Betsy generally does a “Saturday Soundoff” where she invites guests to blog about things that bugged them from the previous week. (Great idea, I know!) However, she has given up her Saturday Soundoff for a very important cause–the Wounded Warrior Project. Betsy has created “Soldier Story Saturday” to help share stories from military men and women, support our troops and raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.

    So, how can you help? It’s simple:

    1. Visit Betsy’s blog each Saturday to read and comment on a new soldier’s story.

    2. Get the word out! Tweet, Facebook, email and Stumble this post!

    3. Help her find military men and women and families to spotlight! If you are, or know of, someone who has a story that needs to be shared, contact Betsy.

    4. Donate to the cause. No matter your beliefs, these men and women have put their lives on the line for us so that we may enjoy U.S. freedoms. They deserve all the help we can get.

  • Help Spread Joy to 300 Kids for Christmas (It’s Easy!)


    Imagine you’re a kid and you celebrate Christmas. Stores are playing non-stop Christmas music, holiday parties are in full swing and you are excited to see Santa and tell him your number one toy request. You wake up Christmas morning, run to the tree and find … nothing.

    Unfortunately this is a real scenario that will play out this holiday season for many kids. However, you have the chance to help some–300 to be exact.

    The Spreading Joy Corporation, a registered U.S. charity, has started their annual Christmas Joy drive to help kids.

    “I know, it’s not time yet, but with so much to do, I have to start now,” stated founder Marie Wikle.

    She is asking individuals, businesses, churches, groups and corporations to pool resources and assist Spreading Joy in providing these kids with Christmas gifts, hopefully four to five gifts each.

    “Around one third of these kids will not receive a gift other than what we give them,” Wikle added.

    So, how can you help Christmas Joy 2011? It’s easy! There are many ways to help, just pick one (or four) and go with it!

    1. Make a monetary donation of any amount to Spreading Joy.

    2. Donate supplies like wrapping paper, tape, scissors, name tags, huge black trash bags (to carry gifts home in) and some gift bags (standard medium size). This will allow Spreading Joy to use more of the funds for gifts.

    3. Donate toys, particularly those between $15 to $20.

    4. Donate gift cards, $10 in value to Walmart or McDonald’s.

    5.Volunteer. Spreading Joy needs individuals in North Carolina to donate time to help with the project.

     All of your donations are tax deductible as allowed by the law.

    SpreadingJoy Corporation
    P.O. Box 1771
    Denver, NC 28037

  • Dad Raises Autism Awareness Amidst Hardships, Needs Help


     

     

    Author’s Note: Generally the GiveBackIn section is reserved for stories about nonprofit groups and organizations. On occasion there comes a long a person’s individual story that deeply touches and equally amazes me. This is one of those times.

     

     

    The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.
    ~Author and Journalist Laurence Leamer, “King of the Night”

     

    Rob Gorski has three sons with autism, a chronically ill wife and little income, but he doesn’t want your pity. He wants awareness.

    In January 2010, Gorski started a blog, Lost and Tired: My Reality in Autism x3, to chronicle his life with three autistic sons and to raise awareness about autism.

    “I want to dispel the misconceptions surrounding autism and show how our lives are affected by it each and every day. Only when people understand can they show compassion for those touched by autism and their families.”

    Autism Speaks, the largest advocacy and autism science organization in the U.S., defines autism as “a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).” Often referred to as “Autism Spectrum Disorders,” the spectrum includes neurodevelopmental disorders such as Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. 

    The CDC estimates that around 1 in 110 kids in the Unites States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Autism Speaks website reports that it is more common than “childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.”Prime Parents Club Gorski family

    Gorski’s three sons–Gavin (11), Elliott (4), and Emmett John (2)–all suffer from varying scales of the autism spectrum.

    When Rob’s wife, Lizze, was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of fibromyalgia a few years ago, he was forced to quit his job as a paramedic to become the primary caretaker of the entire family.

    With no income and loss of primary insurance, Rob began repairing VCRs and DVD players as a means to make extra money. He has a one-man general contracting company with his brother where Rob takes care of the business side from home.

    Rob also builds custom ROMs (read only memory) for the Android smartphone in order to spread autism awareness. He is in the process of starting a 501c3 charity in order to launch his Android4Autism campaign. However, time and cost-associated stumbling blocks for setting up the corporation is slowing down the process.

    “It started out that was just going to take donated devices and install custom ROMs, built from the ground up for Autistic kids. The only apps on the devices would be educational apps and nothing else. These devices are small and much easier to handle so the kids do very well with them. I got a ton of support from the Android community and the idea and potential were getting bigger and bigger. I realized that I needed to do this the right way and that was to form a non-profit and then launch my Android4Autism campaign. Our purpose is to get a device into the hands of as many Autistic kids in need as possible. Along the way I picked up support from Intellijoy, the number one developer of educational apps on the Android Market. They are providing  their entire software lineup free of charge for each device.” 

    In dedicating his life to autism awareness, Robb wants others to know that autism isn’t who the kids are, it’s what they struggle with daily.

    “I want people to understand what autism is. I want them to know that it’s not all sunshine and roses. My goal is not to paint autism in a negative light but instead be realistic and honest about our experience. I feel too many people sugar coat things to the point that the public has the wrong impression and a poor understanding of the struggle facing families like mine. My hope is that by sharing our story in as honest a way as possible the world will be a better place for my kids in the future.”

    Financial struggles aren’t the only concerns for the Gorski family. Exhausting days and lack of support without breaks make for stressful lives.

    The two oldest boys are in two different schools and the family travels a 100 mile round trip each day when therapy appointments are factored in–all taken care of by Gorski and his wife. On occasion, grandparents on either side of the family will take the boys–one at time. Otherwise, the couple receives no assistance and finding qualified respite care has been difficult, so they rely on their parents to fill that role.

    “We never have a night to ourselves and all the day-to-day stuff is my wife and I. Our parents do what they can to help…As far as friends go, aside from our online friends, we don’t have many. People generally either don’t believe things are this complicated for us or they can’t handle it and they leave. We aren’t a TV show and there are no actors. This is our struggle, our journey…and it’s all true.”

    So, how can you help?

    “To be honest, we don’t hear that very often,” says Gorski. “But if you want to help a special needs family you can start by educating yourself.” 

    Other Ways to Help the Gorski Family

     

    Donate to the Gorski family directly (donation button in sidebar).

     

    Read and Subscribe to his Examiner Autism column. It’s free to you and Robb gets paid for pageviews and subscriptions.

     

    Read Robb’s blog and follow him on Twitter.

     

    Purchase “The Vault” medical binder from the Gorski “store.”

     

    Share this post by using the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and many other buttons you find on this post. 

  • Japan Tsunami, Earthquake Relief: Help for cost of lunch


    Japan’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake was the largest in the country’s history. Aftershocks, tsunamis, fires and other destruction after Friday’s earthquake have caused widespread devastation in Japan with effects also felt in other areas.

    Tuning into television, radio and social networks to catch up on the reports, many were left with one question: How can we help now?

    Here are organizations offering quick, easy and and inexpensive ways to  assist with relief efforts right now–many cheaper than what we spend on a fast food lunch during a business day. Will you help?

    1. American Red Cross: Donate online or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    2. OperationSAFE, International: Donate online.

    3. Convoy of Hope: Donate online.

    4. Save the Children Federation, Inc.:  Donate online, or text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.

    5. WorldVision, Inc.:  Donate online, or text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.

    6. Mercy Corps: Donate online, or text “MERCY” to 25283 to donate $10.

    What did we miss? If you know of a group or organization helping with the relief efforts and we’ve missed them here, please leave the links in the comment section. 

    If you or someone you know is trying to find a U.S. citizen after the earthquake, the U.S. Department of State has set up the following to assist:

     

    For calls from within the U.S. 1-888-407-4747
    For calls from outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444


    For concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan please email:
    JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov
    For concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in the Tsunami zone outside of Japan please email:  
    PacificTsunamiUSC@state.gov

    Image: cbenjasuwan

  • Thousands of Detroit area families may go without Christmas gifts, food


    WritRams hopelessnessThere are only nine days left until Christmas Eve. For many of us, this means that most of the gifts on our list are purchased or made. They are probably on their way to the recipients or sitting under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in anticipation of that special morning. Sadly, many in the Detroit and surrounding Southeastern Michigan areas are not as fortunate.

    According to the Volunteers of American, Michigan Chapter, there are still approximately 2,000 families in their database that need assistance to provide a Christmas of some kind–any kind–to their families.

    This means 2,000 families who may not have a holiday meal to enjoy.

    Almost 2,000 families who are feeling hopeless.

    That’s 2,000 families with kids who will whisper wishes to Santa that will never be fulfilled.

    The Michigan VOA Adopt-a-Family program, now in its 17th year, makes assisting these families easy and convenient. Just complete an online form, call 248-353-4862, or email erohrbach@voami.org to get involved.

    You have until Christmas Eve to adopt and provide gifts for a family.

    The VOA will then connect you with a family and their wish list, or you have the option of browsing families in order to match your specific needs–like city, county and number of family members.

    The requirements are that you provide at least one new toy and clothing item to each child in the family and a means for the family to have a holiday meal–like a grocery store gift card or a food basket.

    That’s it.WritRams VOA Michigan chapter

    Providing gifts for parents and additional items are optional.

    Once your gifts are wrapped and ready, you deliver them to the family or work with VOA to have them delivered.

    If you cannot sponsor an entire family, you can donate online in order to help provide gifts and food. 

    • $20 provides a toy for a child 
    • $30 provides warm winter clothing for a child
    • $50 provides Christmas dinner for a family
    • $150 provides an entire Christmas experience for a family of four

    There is also an Adopt-a-Senior program where $85 provides a fruit basket and a special holiday treat for a senior.

    Times are tough for everyone right now, but if you have even a little resource–0r the ability to pool resources from friends and family members–please consider adopting a family this Christmas. This is a life-changing opportunity for your family and a way to make a difference in a family’s life through a personal connection this holiday season. 

    Thinking of children going without food and gifts on Christmas is almost…unbearable.

    If you are outside of the Southeastern Michigan area or in another state and would still like to assist families, please check the Volunteers of America national website for additional opportunities.

    Photo: Getty Images


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