So one week from today is the big day. As we get closer and I talk to more people a lot have asked why I am doing this. The simple answer is that there is a small child that needs help and I am in a position to give it to him. But of course the simple answer is never the complete answer. A lot of things have brought me to this point. There are a few big ones.
First of all I have had a lucky life. I was raised in a loving middle class family. There was never a question as to whether or not I would go to college only a question of where. I've always had my health, not everyone does. I spent an entire year in Iraq and came home without a scratch. So many others didn't. That's a lot to be thankful for. All of these things have always led me to know that I should give something back.
So, why this specific something?
A little more than three years ago I got a call from my dad telling me that my brother had appendicitis. A bit of a bummer especially considering my sister-in-law was 8 months pregnant. But, what's an appendectomy?
A couple of days later I got a call from my mom. When she said Chris needed a liver transplant my brain had a hard time understanding the words. As far as we knew he was a healthy guy. Liver cancer, a transplant? Incomprehensible.
Over the next few months we welcomed Lauren into the world and waited. More than once he got a call and headed to the hospital only to be told that it wasn't a go.
Then, in September, the real call came. An 18-year-old boy had died and, at what had to be the worst moment of their lives, his parents made the choice to save others.
Out of their family's tragedy came our family's salvation. A son, a brother, a husband and a father got a second chance at life all because strangers made a courageous and selfless decision.
Shortly after all of this I started working at the Kidney Foundation. As I met others waiting for organ donations I discovered just how lucky my brother, and our family, had been. I met people who have waited year after year for a call that still hasn't come. I learned of the draining and painful process that is dialysis.
Then I met Noah. Just a few months younger than my own niece, his whole life had been spent in and out of hospitals, and back and forth to the doctor. I looked at Lauren and could only think that every child should be as lucky.
I may never know who it was that saved my brother's life. And even if I do, no amount of thank yous could ever be enough. I have my brother. My parents have their son. Courtney has a husband and Lauren a father. And on top of all that, our entire family has Emily, whose birth wouldn't have been possible without the donor and his family.
This is my way to pay it forward. It is them that I honor next Thursday.
And, I feel incredibly lucky to know that by my small sacrifice, Noah may be able to have a childhood less encumbered by medical problems. That he will be free to swim, learn to ride a bike and go to school. That he could have all the chances that my own nieces have.
So, yeah... that's why.