From Jerry Lewis to My Own Front Yard

As a child, Labor Day weekend marked summer’s end. It was well-defined by sun streaked hair, copper toned skin, a new pair of jeans and an overstocked backpack bursting with the scent of Crayola. But one other pivotal event always marked the season’s end; The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Year after year, I’d settle in and watch as American’s rallied together to help those inflicted with Muscular Dystrophy. The story-based fundraiser captured real time adversity from the mouth’s of children and families living with MD. One year, while sitting on the living room couch, a story squeezed my heart so tight I remember crying elephant sized tears. I determined right then and there to do something. I was 11 years old. So, I went to my parents and told them my idea. Together, we organized a festival in my own front yard to raise money for the Jerry Lewis telethon and MDA.

Mom drove me to the local Coca-Cola plant, bank President’s and company CEO’s to pitch the idea. Donation after donation rolled in and the following summer we held a festival complete with games like ring toss, mini golf, and a cupcake walk. There were food concessions and face painting and pony rides too.

We raised more than $217!

And I was convinced Jerry Lewis himself might show up to invite us onto the show. Ha! Well, that never happened, but we made headlines in the Hutch Leader and my heart was so very happy.

Fast forward 20 some years and I find myself serving on a team, helping to organize a community festival raising money for livestock animals to be distributed via the humanitarian organization World Vision. I’d long forgotten about my front yard festival at 11 years old, until my mom dug out this newspaper clipping. I marveled at the similarity. I marveled at the thread of compassion stretching through the years, connecting me once again to a good work.

God prepares good works for us in advance. 

Many times we miss seeing the orchestration. Adulting has a certain way of blurring the vision. Work becomes small and mundane and merely meaningless. We stop to catch a breath and whisper curious words about our purpose and who can really know?

But I’m feeling inspired today to encourage you to look no further than your own front yard. The place where you played as a child and frolicked in the grass and kicked the can into the night. All those memories, light years away. Perhaps, the thread of passion in our earliest years holds a secret passage. An awesome revelation to be found. Purpose: can it be found in the 11 year old you? What do you see? Who have you become? And where will it take you?

Though my Livestock Music Festival season has come to a close God is still working this compassionate desire for good. Today I’m advocating for a small village in Sierra Leone, West Africa through the Lulu Tree.

So, thank you Jerry Lewis for inspiring a young girl with a big heart. I promise to take what you’ve given me and pass it on. May we all take heart and do a similar small, good thing.

Comments

  1. Rachel, I love this comparison … I never would have thought of it. But you are right … we have been preparing for our work here on earth. With God’s grace it will lead us ultimately to His heavenly kingdom … where we want to be. But (as the song says) “while we are waiting, we’ll serve”.
    Love you! You are a great organizer!

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