My FUNraiser

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July 20th, 2010, quick show of hands. How many of you think coincidences are simply random, unrelated events? 1 … 2 … maybe three of you.

Great, okay, how many of you know in your gut that coincidences signify something more, but you just can’t figure out … whoa, okay 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 … got it. And that’s just the first row of you. I see.

Something amazing happened Sunday afternoon. If you’re thinking it was all the love, outflowing of support, amazing acts of kindness from strangers and a festival of genuine friendship then you’re mostly right. But there was something else buried in the bar. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first a confession.

I was nervous. I was very, very nervous. I didn’t even know how apprehensive I was until I stood there, outside the fundraiser, talking to friends and I realized my knees were actually shaking. If you feel like attributing it to chemotherapy and a general, overall fatigue, be my guest. But the honest emotion coursing through me at that moment was anxiety for what was happening all around me. knows I love the spotlight. I can’t tell you how much I love things being all about me. But Sunday’s silent auction and karaoke event brought out an aspect of me I didn’t realize existed. I didn’t know what to expect. I felt weird showing up with my bald head conspicuously covered with a Tigers cap. I didn’t know who in the world would want to give up their gorgeous, sunny Sunday afternoon to hang out in a dark bar and sing old songs. I was, okay I’ll say it, afraid.

I feared no one would show up. I feared being stared at. I feared people would think I was trying to use cancer as a way to make money. I feared I’d have no stamina. I feared x, y and z.

Then I just accepted it all. I accepted the person I never met who made a cool, retro ice chest which made a handsome decoration and a handsome profit. I accepted all the amazing photos which were fiercely bid upon. I accepted the photo lamp and the fishing trip and the karaoke singers, and the, and the, and the from people who knew me well, knew me a little or didn’t know me at all.

Accepting charity is normally very hard for me. Each one of you made it simple. are so many organizers to thank from Marty Westman, to the owners of The Inn Place, to Sally Tato Snell to Patty Montemurri to everyone who just came to have some fun. You probably don’t know, though, that it was my Mom who felt most like a celebrity, when so many of you came over and had a kind word for me or her. It made her week, or even her month.

So what’s this about coincidences Rodney? Only a few people are aware of this, but on Friday, when Marci and I met with the Karmanos team to determine our next course of attack, they told us our insurance probably won’t cover bone marrow testing for my cousin and brothers — the likeliest of donor matches. Through a crazy loophole, which is being closed by the blessed Obama health care plan, HAP can deny payment for their tests, but will allow unrelated searches through an anonymous registry. As ridiculous as that sounds, there’s a scenario that could’ve led to us owing a large chunk of money.

Yes, a very large chunk of money indeed. That amount was so large that it actually made us begin to question how we’d handle the search and maybe we’d try this or that to cut back. That amount was a mountain.

That amount was slid into a shopping bag, donated throughout the day by all of you, and handed to Marci and I before we drove away.

That exact amount.

There were many other coincidences — major and minor — including Shield’s pizza, movie extras, wisdom teeth, storms and the Human League. But don’t worry if you don’t buy into them. Sometimes coincidences are too mind boggling to sort out.

As we took off down Main St., my bride of 20 years asked, “So how do you feel?” And then her laughter slipped and slid out as I sat in the passenger seat, open mouthed without a sound coming out. For the first time she’s known me, I was left speechless.

Then just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water, (as they said in the old Jaws movie posters), a large group of News/Free Press folks including Elizabeth Conley, Robin Buckson, Steven Cherry, Kathy Kieliszewski, Romain Blanquart, Jessica Trevino and Sally Tato Snell together threw some new chum into the surf. Area photographers have donated even more gorgeous photographs for a sale in my name. There are modern and historical photos from the News and Free Press archives from Babe Ruth to Miguel Cabrera, Marvin Gaye to Kid Rock and MLK to Obama. Look at these amazing photos up for sale!

My mouth remains frozen in the ON position.

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