This Time It's Personal
Laura Van Zeyl

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.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for sharing this Laura. I had no idea!! Such a personal loss drives us all to action in many ways. And I am grateful that Leslie Carothers pointed this out on Facebook. To think you went to January mkt then onto your friends funeral then to Dallas mkt breaks my heart. Someone I know in the Atlanta mkt this wknd had to leave her job yesterday for a family death then plug right back in. We all have to compartmentalizs our lives so much these days because theres little time to stay in one moment for long. It humbles me to know that in life we all share in these every day struggles and I think it helps us all when wonderful people like you and Leslie Carothers and more share what means most to you. And organizations like this work so hard to raise cancer research funds. Thank you for writing this!! This matters to me too as my mother died of cancer. So if theres still time I'd be happy to donate a pillow if theres a silent auction. Having just seen the photo of your son and remembering my own at that tender age, a child never fully heals from the loss of their mother...Im happy to contribute in honor of your friend and her precious son. Deborah Main,

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