It’s been ten years since Simon died. Today, he would have been in fourth grade.
They say that time heals everything. This cliche is completely false. Time gives us the opportunity to make choices. It gives us the room to live in darkness or seek out light. It gives us the freedom to open up to friends or close out the world. It gives us the space to serve others or simply serve ourselves.
After Simon died, we had so many choices and so many questions. We didn’t have any answers. We did have friends. Smart friends. Compassionate friends. Dedicated friends.
If you were in our basement at one of those first few Simon’s Fund meetings, will you please stand up?
Can we ever thank you enough?
First of all, you’re still our friends. That’s a ten-year friendship. It’s also a friendship that has been challenged and tested. With us, you’ve endured an unimaginable tragedy. Thank you for coming to our rescue and standing at our side.
Secondly, look around this room. Ten years ago, when our kids were in diapers, what did you think was possible?
Ghana said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This statement is completely true.
When all of us decided that parents shouldn’t have to bury their children from detectable and treatable heart conditions, and that people needed to know that sudden cardiac arrest isn’t just an adult thing . . . where did you think it would lead?
Did you think that we’d be celebrating in a room with 470 people?
Did you think that we’d provide free heart screenings to almost 11,000 children?
Did you think that we’d author a law to protect student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest and that the law would be passed in six states and introduced in several others?
Did you think that we’d have NBA players, and actors, and Olympic gold medalists helping us spread our message?
Did you think that we’d have a network of over fifty physicians around the country who believe in youth heart screenings?
Did you think that international brands and national corporations would be recognizing us?
Did you think that we would be the first group to build a database to gather and store cardiac informant on seemingly healthy students so that researchers could do their job?
We did not. We had no idea where all of this would go. However, because of the people sitting in this room, both old friends and new, we are here, and we’ve accomplished so much together.
You’ve connected us with school districts. You’ve liked us on Facebook and followed us on Twitter. If you haven’t, feel free to do so now. You’re share our message with your friends, colleagues, constituents and customers. You’ve voted for me again, and again and again. You’ve asked restaurants for gift certificates and foundations for money. You’ve unloaded and loaded massage tables, machines and file boxes. You’ve taken vitals, listened to hearts and read ECGs. You’ve donated products and services. You’ve talked to television networks and radio stations. You’ve run, walked, danced or swung a golf club. You’ve come to us with ideas. You’ve shared advice, perspective and expertise. You’ve fund absolutely everything.
Most of all, you have helped us heal and be the change that we wish to see in the world.
Everyone who made tonight possible is listed on Page 12 of the Soiree Book. We owe all of you so much. However, there are a few people that we must mention.
Melissa Caruso was a stranger two years ago. Now, she is co-chairing our auction committee.
Danielle Nurick came into our lives right after Simon died. She’s been a tremendous friend ever since and this year, she took charge of our sponsorships. If you didn’t hear from her, I am shocked. She will find you.
Dorothy Wilson was there when I was born and when Simon was born. She’s known my parents longer that I have. She and Arrangements Unlimited have been donating their time to organize and decorate our events from the beginning.
My colleagues at eBay Enterprise have given me the support and flexibility at the office so that I still have something left to give to Simon’s Fund. You also came out tonight in force – you filled five tables!
Jill Deeves came into our life three years ago. We needed help and were ready to make an offer when our neighbor said, “Wait, you must meet Jill.” Boy are we glad that we waited. Jill has become a part of our family. She is also an integral part of Simon’s Fund. And, that woman who introduced us, it’s her birthday. Happy Birthday, Tara.
Sally and Jaden, you may not even be in the room right now, but we want to thank you for being so patient and so understanding. We know that so much attention is given to Simon’s Fund. However, we want you to know that nothing is more important to us than seeing your smile (and yes, even your glares), everyday. We are so proud of you both.
As co-founders, the spotlight is always on us. Tonight, we are shining it on you. Because of you, Simon’s Fund has accomplished so much. We have saved lives.
We look forward to continuing this journey with you. We know that in a few years, every student will get a heart screening. We don’t know how, but we’re pretty confident, because with you by our side, we have a pretty good track record of success.
Thank you for sharing your night and heart with us tonight. Thank you for believing in our vision. Thank you for helping us check hearts and save lives.