It seems that at some point in your life you’ll be affected by something that drives you to make a difference. Once we begin to make our own mature choices, this often leads to finding some purpose helping out with charities either through actual community service or with with financial contributions.

For me, my charities of choice became S.A.F.E. in Hunterdon, the ASPCA and the Make a Wish Foundation among plenty of others whenever possible. I usually try to keep my giving on a local level but not always. I’ve also added the Muscular Dystrophy Association to my list of causes since meeting Jill Pantozzi, you probably know her as The Nerdy Bird.

If you don’t know Jill already and you like comic books and other pop culture elements such as Doctor Who or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then you’ll want to quickly seek out Jill’s columns at MTV Splash Page, Newsarama and her own blog, Jill has been a serious advocate for the MDA since she was just a little girl of 7 years old and appeared on the Jerry Lewis telethon. If you can’t tell because of the use of photo cropping, Jill gets around in a motorized scooter due to her type of MDA called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA); she can stand and walk but it’s with difficulty.

Perhaps it was those early appearances on the telethon that guided Jill into being such a successful media personality. If you see Jill at a convention or event, I guarantee you’ll see her smiling. You might think Mother Nature handed Jill a raw deal but I’ve never met anyone with the kind of positive outlook that she has.

Since this is one of my blogs after all, I’ll get into a personal story. I used to have the privilege of taking Hatha Yoga classes several times a week. In one session we did something very different. We did a walking meditation rather than the usual sitting kind. The students were startled. They’d have to leave the comfort of the personal space they set up with their mats and actually wander around the room. The goal for people to walk anywhere in the room but instead we ended up finding comfort in sticking to a circle, one person behind the other; no one seemed to have the courage to create his or her own path.

During our meditations, the instructor would speak softly giving verbal queues with suggestions of what to visualize or reminders to soften particular muscles. While we were doing this walking meditation, the instructor said, “Take this step for all the people in the world that can’t step for themselves.” I was in that class probably 10 years ago and I still remember that meditation. It was before I knew Jill but I have another friend named Donna with crippling arthritis who also walks with incredible difficulty, has deformed fingers which bend backwards at the joints, and she’s shrunken from over 5 feet to barely above 4 feet. I don’t know if it was my love for Donna that made the walking meditation resonate so strongly with me. Whatever the reason, whenever I feel compelled to be too lazy to walk I remember that day’s lesson. If I don’t feel like bringing a dirty dish to the sink or delivering a piece of mail to the post office, I remember that as long as I am not dealing with my own pain issues that moment, I need to get up and take those steps for all the people that can’t.

Jill & Amber at Wonder Woman Day 2009

Since I don’t have all the money to give that I fantasize about having some day, I do what I can through giving up some time. I blog, promote, make appearances and yes, take my loose change to the CoinStar machine because it’s what I can manage to do. I urge you to do the same and remember the MDA telethon at Labor Day and Superhero Weekend (WWD) in October.

The telethon is always Labor Day weekend. While you can donate any time of course, the telethon may inspire you to actually do it if you’re one of those folks, like me, that says, “I’ll do it when I can.” Seeing the people affected is a powerful motivator to dig into the couch cushions for whatever you can.

I know it’s probably annoying to read me plead for donations for Wonder Woman Day/Superhero Weekend, our S.A.F.E. in Hunterdon comic book themed fundraiser and again have me begging for something else the same month; the bottom line is all of these organizations can really use your help. Since I just moved, I’m unemployed yet again so I know how difficult it can be consider charitable giving when you have bills to pay. So if you’re in a position where it’s just not financially possible to help this year, please help in another way – help us by spreading the word about all our events like the MDA telethon and Wonder Woman Day. You might be surprised how some people have never heard of these things (certainly WWD).

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