It's the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. That's right, my birthday
It's the holiday season - the perfect time to be joyous and share even more kindness than usual.
This year has been very productive - I think that's a good way to describe it - regarding giving back and helping others. Because of last year's Annual B-Day & Holiday Fundraiser, we were able to give the most amount ever to the local Community Action Program in my old hometown (well, home county). I was able to give 3 scholarships at my old high school for 2022.
As well we were able to help raise some money through Pro Wrestling events for a couple of worthy causes in my eyes - Christmas for the Kids (for a small Maine county) and Maine's Veterans Homes.
I try to keep everything very regional (small town). I started this non-profit with a few friends with very kind hearts, so we could assist in our communities needs...and it's done well thus far.
I think overall, between this non-profit, my business and my personal life, we've done over $15,000 in donations to various causes and people in need.
It is almost painful for me to do this fundraiser every year. I prefer giving something rather than receiving, but I know there are people out there who want to help, so I thank you for your support and time, whether you can donate or simply share this link.
It all started with my High School English teacher and was accelerated by my friends wanting to give back, too.
With that lead-up, I am daring to ask for more this year (not an insane amount more). I'll be putting up $3000 of my own money for this (if not more)
*The photo above is from an early morning local news appearance that my friend set up for us during our Christmas for the Kids Fundraiser that raised nearly $1000 for the cause (All the wrestlers and crew donated their time for FREE - nobody made money)
HERE IS THE BACKSTORY FROM YEARS PAST:
As I've shared in the past, I had an English teacher high school that started a charity called "Keep Waldo Warm," which provided assistance to needy families and elderly folks in need of warmth during the coldest and most brutal time of year. She was an inspirational member of the community who battled cancer several times before finally losing her fight in 2016. With her death went the funds that she would raise yearly for the charity she helped create for our neighbors.
As a child and young adult, I was helped by the community and its' programs countless times. A little bit can do a lot in the area I grew up in. It is my belief that with your kindness and support we can donate more money this year than the previous year. Maybe even double it. I've already committed $2500 of my own money to the cause, so worst case, I'll be able to help a few of people stay warm this winter. However, if you can help, please do so. I was able to do $3500 in donations last year to the Community Action Program because of supporters like you.
Thank you for your consideration and kindness.
I shared a story over the last few years that, even with my awful memory, I will never forget.
I made my teacher cry.
I felt bad for it, but as I got older I've come to appreciate it differently.
My high school wrestling team was having a scrimmage match at my high school against a "club" program. Most the wrestlers on the other team weren't very good, to put it politely.
While waiting my turn to compete on the mat, I noticed one of the wrestlers on the other team was having a blast on the sidelines. A huge smile lit up his face. It was obvious that he had "special needs." Forgive me for not knowing the current politically-correct term. I am in no way AT ALL trying to paint this person in a negative light.
SIDE NOTE: My first and only "real" job as an adult was working with folks with similar needs and conditions. I even thought about attending college to become a psychologist or therapist.
I asked my coach if I could wrestle him, but my request was dismissed as we were SEVERAL weight classes away from each other. Me being 140 pounds and him being a heavyweight wrestler around 220 pounds. On top of that, we were only a week or so away from all the big tournaments and I was expected to only have one real challenge in the way of me winning a State Championship (of which I fell short of achieving).
My match that day was against a rookie wrestler from the other team. Not to be too cocky, but he was out-classed and easily defeated.
I had to watch as freshman wrestler from my team went out to wrestle the above mentioned dude and beat him.
A few moments later, I asked my coach AGAIN to have a match against the heavyweight wrestler and once again was denied. Risk of injury was too high this close to championship time. However, a senior on our team was going to wrestle him. As a captain of my team, I hoped my "authority" would entice my teammate to do the right thing and I told him to lose the match. He gave a goofy smile and walked to the mat.
To put it blatantly, my teammate was a prick. He said "my grandma is here and I can't lose in front of her" or some shit like that after pinning the kid.
I went back to my coach and put in my request once more. I'm a passionate person and sometimes that comes across as angry, so it can be a bit intense. I strongly stated my case. After my coach and the rival coach chatted, I was FINALLY granted the match I had been eager for.
I'm a slight performer, as you know, and I didn't want this guy to think I was letting him win.
The referee for the bout was my gym teacher and he had glee on his face as he officiated. After the match he came up to me and said "I've never seen someone work so hard to lose a match." Man, I hope that guy is living well these days. He did good by me for many years.
So, I finally was pinned and my opponent leaped to his feet with a giant smile across his face. Jumping up and down. It was amazing and an ABSOLUTE JOY for me!
This still makes me emotional sharing this story. As I stood behind the wrestling team putting my warm-ups back on, my English teacher came down from the stands and with tear-filled eyes asked if she could hug me then immediately left the gymnasium. What a great woman!
The next morning my first period class was English. Early into the class, she mentioned that I had done something very kind the previous night and asked me if she could share it with the class. I can be painfully shy and, more importantly, I don't think I should be recognized for something that everyone else before me should have done, so I shook my head and stated that I'd prefer if she didn't tell the class.
Definitely one of my favorite memories.
So with that story shared, I remind you that Maine is a rough (but beautiful) place to live, especially in the winter. Lots of folks live on fixed income or limited income. Our area isn't known for big houses or fancy cars.
For my birthday and whichever holiday you are celebrating this season, I'd like to ask you for your support and contributions in honor of my high school English teacher. She wanted to help the community and I'd like to continue her spirit by helping as well. The money will be donated to people in need of heating oil and other additional expenses they accrue during these harsh bitter cold months.