The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is all over social media sites. In this challenge, people dump ice cold buckets of water on themselves or they must donate money to support amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research. Some say it has reached the point of annoying, but there is one point that can’t be argued… the challenge has accomplished its purpose. The ALS Association reported that they have received more than $15 million in donations (in addition to ALS awareness) because of the challenge, but how did it all begin? With one person: 29 year-old ALS patient, Pete Frates. The challenge kicked off with athletes in the Boston-area and it has exploded from there. In the beginning, the act of dumping cold water on yourself might not seem very powerful but the impact can be clearly seen.
This doesn’t mean that we all need to start daring challenges to raise awareness for one of our passions. As FFA members, we are the future of agriculture and there are countless ways for us to support it. We can share pictures of how we properly care for our animals, keep ourselves up-to-date with current issues in agriculture (and then share that information!), and do our best to carry out a chapter, district, or state service project. Sometimes we feel like we can’t do much as one individual, but our actions can start a ripple effect that can reach farther than we ever dreamed.
Two of my good friends, Nicollette and Savannah, have taken something they are passionate about and made it bigger than themselves. Nicollette started an event at our high school called Trojans Helping Trojans. Southeast of Saline HS clubs and organizations donate gift packages to be put into a silent auction. The event is held in conjunction with the school play so supporters can eat a meal, bid on items, and then enjoy the work of students at the play. T-shirts can also be purchased. The funds raised from the event are given to Trojan families in need of help. Savannah teamed up with one of her friends to host the Smiles for Mija Summer Splash. The day was filled with swimming, volleyball, raffles, live music, and t-shirt sales to raise funds for Mija Stockman who was in a tragic car accident in 2013. Both events were big successes because someone did something they felt passionate about.
I challenge us all to pinpoint one of our passions and then do something it, but we must remember it doesn’t have to be the biggest feat to leave a big impact. I’ll close out this blog with one of my favorite stories:
A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
The young boy asks, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die,” the old man replies.
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all. You can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”
Kansas FFA, how will you make a difference?