March 12, 2007

When Good People Go Bad

My mother got it into my head that we should do something big this year, since we are all relatively well, fit and able-bodied; thus was born the idea to Walk for the Cure. After much talk, planning, and excitement, I went to the website to read the small, monkey-wrench shaped fine print: if you want to do the 3-Day breast cancer walk, you are duty-bound to raise $2,200 for the cure. Yes, before they will let you walk, for twenty miles a day, after which you will sleep in a campsite, you must hand over two grand. Oh, and the $90 entry fee. In short: To raise money for a cure for breast cancer they want every participant to give them $3,100.

At the risk of sounding immature and resentful: doi.

I’m not maligning the 3-Day walk; it’s a noble thing. But to put such an insane minimum on the amount of money necessary before they’ll allow you to take part is… rude. It means only the wealthy (or wealthy-adjacent) are actually allowed to participate, as opposed to volunteer. Maybe it’s just that the amount is so ridiculous—raise $100, sure; it’s enough to show your dedication without being unreasonable. Maybe I could even raise $1,000 if I really sold the hell out of myself (in a legal way. Mostly. Actually, $1,000 puts me firmly in semi-legal with an option to criminal). But twice that? I would have to find 100 people willing to give me $20 (I don’t know a hundred people, period) or ten people who could give me $200. Who can spare $200 for something that has no tangible return (I’m not counting the warm, fuzzy feeling). Who, today, right now, could clear a $2,200 check? And what about the afflicted people who are trying to just afford treatment, let alone money for a cure? It’s elitist, and that’s a bad color on a non-profit.

I’m not bring lazy, I’m being realistic; even if I could raise the cash by tapping out every available resource, there is no way my aunt, mother and sister would be able to raise their donations, since we would all be shaking down the same batch of relatives (my friends would probably pledge me, as they are kind people, but I would turn them down because they are also broke people). I flirted with the idea of an upper-class solicitation campaign in the vein of the Civil War draft, where rich landowners would pay the poor serfs (I’m mixing eras here, but you know what I mean) to go to war in their stead: I start with inviting these upper-crusty philanthropic types to walk with me, see. Then, when it turns out they’re too busy… signing things, or bootlegging, or spinning straw into gold (I don’t claim to know from what rich people do), I’m all Oh, you don’t want to go on the walk? Well, if you pledge me $7,000 I’ll walk for you!

Right? Fence would be covered in whitewash in no time. Alas, the plan was abandoned due to the probability of laws being broken, coupled with the fact that I do not know anyone with those kinds of funds. Actually, I do, but I can’t afford to lose my job. Or cure cancer, as it turns out.

Granted, the real impetus for me was that I could go on a “legitimate” vacation for a few days that involved heavy exercise and roughing it—lug a backpack, sleep on bark, scale a peak, eat a bear—because that’s my idea of a good time. When I got it into my head that I could do it for a worthy cause—well!

But I guess I won’t be testing my physical limits under any particular banner. Unless anyone knows of a charitable, week-long hardcore mountain-climb / visionquest in the greater Detroit area…?


Ian said...

I was in the middle of thinking, "I bet I could find a way to scrounge $20" when I got to the part about turning people down because they're broke. Some days you eat a bear, some days the bear eats you.

Beedoo said...

Ain't it the effing truth. Good to have you back, my man. {and I'd eat a bear to get you a job...)