Maybe it’s a by-product of being a working mom, but I’m the queen of compartmentalization. I can tune out one crisis for the sake of solving another, keeping calm and carrying on in just about any circumstance. That’s why it really threw me for a loop to be ambushed by emotion at a recent event.
Some of you already know I joined the Advisory Board last year for The H Foundation, the cancer research charity started by Hortons Home Lighting in LaGrange, IL, that has raised $4.5 million for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Almost all of this money has been raised through the organization’s Goombay Bash, which is on Aug. 3 this year and draws dozens of lighting industry supporters to Chicago's Navy Pier.
At a kickoff meeting for 2013 Goombay Bash planning, we were being introduced to new Board and Host Committee members with a standard go-around-the-room-and-introduce-yourself exercise. It’s standard “elevator speech” stuff, even with the added layer of loved ones lost to cancer to inspire our participation in this case. But I barely got out my name, rank and serial number before I became a blubbery mess. Nice to meet you, everyone. Does anyone have a tissue?
Part of the reason that The H Foundation and the Goombay Bash have been so successful is right in their tagline: Cancer is personal to them. They were founded after Hortons employee Pam Herts, a 31-year-old mother, died of cancer. You’ll find her name and several others adorning the palm fronds on the brochure for their Caribbean-themed party.
One of those names is Christine Walthour, a childhood friend of mine who can take full credit for any sense of humor I may have, who left behind a beautiful son the same age as my child when she passed away after a long battle with cancer in January. I went to the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Then I went to her funeral in Minneapolis. Then I went to the Dallas Market. I compartmentalized to the max. Until I realized why the Goombay Bash mattered so much to me.
If it matters to you, too, there are many ways to get involved. Tickets to the event are available for $150. You can also donate cash, services or merchandise that can be auctioned off. There are loads of sponsorship opportunities. And there’s even a Grand Raffle for a chance to win $10,000. It all adds up and it all makes a difference. For that, I’d like to thank you — personally.