Strength in numbers
I am constantly amazed by the way people in Southeast Texas pull
together during a crisis...or to support a cause. I don't know why I'm
not used to this by now. I've been here most of my adult life. But this
past weekend Bob and I were emcees at an event that, once again, left
me asking the question: why? Not why do they do it but why are people
here so giving of their time, money and energy?
A little background - I thought it was that way everywhere until I
would mention to friends from Dallas or Houston or (place name of some
big city here) what kind of turnout we had a particular event or how
much money was raised to support some cause - and they would be amazed!
"You had THAT MANY PEOPLE show up???" or "You raised HOW MUCH MONEY???"
are phrases I seem to hear a lot.
So, during the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Walkathon in
Lumberton this past weekend, I was once again surprised by the turnout,
AND the results. While chatting with a local police officer about the
event, she told me it was the biggest of its kind in the state! The
idea is simple enough: people that want to support MADD's cause (don't
we all?) agree to walk a 5K (3.1 miles) course. They have solicited
donations from folks that pay them to walk and then the walkers give
that money to MADD. One walking team raised more than $13,000! And
several raised other huge amounts! And this scenario is repeated just
about every weekend all year long for various causes all over our area.
Many of the people that take part in this event have lost loved ones to
accidents caused by someone driving drunk. You can see it in their
faces when they passionately tell you about their mother, father,
daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, you name it that was killed in
a drunk driving accident. You would probably expect the one most
directly affected by the loved one's death to participate in events
like this, but lots of the people that attended didn't even know any of
the people that have lost their lives - they were just there to support
the cause. And that's what constantly amazes me.
After the event, Bob and I were talking about it while driving to
another event in the Austin area and he, who was born and raised in a
big city, put it like this: "In Dallas (or Houston or place name of
some big city here), people can be almost anonymous if they want to.
And even if they don't want to, most people are. It's not uncommon for
people to live next to each other for years and not even know each
other's names. You go to the grocery store and you probably will not
see someone you know. Imagine that. I've never been to the grocery
store in Beaumont that I didn't see someone I know - usually lots of
And that struck me as kind of sad. Millions of people living together
in some big metropolitan area and not knowing each other. And, I
suppose, many not caring about anyone else either.
Aren't you glad you live here where we DO run into friends and
neighbors at the grocery store or the car wash or anywhere else we
choose to go? And where we really do care about what happens to our
friends and neighbors? I know I am.