I was introduced to PBLA by Randy Holliday about 6 years ago. He invited me to the golf tournament, and I knew it was also a fundraiser, so I was ready to contribute something for the opportunity to play golf at Cherry Creek (from an ethical standpoint, I believe that anyone who accepts an invitation to something that is clearly a fundraiser should be ready to pony up something)... Sounds simple, but more than anything else I was curious about the organization itself. I did some of the obligatory online research prior. Seemed interesting. I had done volunteer work and donations in the past (including "face time" when I could), but I hadn't yet found a charity that seemed like it would become a mission or cause for me.
Well, what I saw at that first golf event looked intriguing, and it piqued my interest. Randy followed that first invitation with one to the annual dinner the following year. That cemented my interest. Sure, the celebrities and singing and the event itself were wonderful, but for me the selling point was watching the kids on stage. Both performing and seeing and hearing about what and how they achieve... often through support that they never would have gotten without PBLA.
I thought that it's amazing what kids can achieve with some support and opportunities to make good on that support.
Before I had even gone to the summer program, by then I had been invited to be on the Board. It was obvious to Randy (and others) that PBLA had hit the proverbial chord for me, and that this was the mission I was looking for.
I've traveled the world on business (when I was an international freight pilot) and also for pleasure (scuba diving), so I've seen both affluence and abject poverty first-hand all around the world. What an amazing learning experience that travel has been. It not only gives me a better understanding of the struggles of the world, but it also makes me appreciate that the worst day in the USA is better than the best day in so many other less fortunate areas. How fortunate we are to have been born here.
Then, when I actually visited the summer program a few years ago, I was fascinated. Just like at the annual dinner, there were tears in my eyes more than once. A real face-slapper for me was sitting with some young kids at lunch and asking what their favorite part of the PBLA summer camp was. Expecting some kind of mature response about fellowship or goals, when I also heard things like "the food" was a huge wake-up call for me. In addition to what I thought PBLA was about, it was kind of a shocker that cafeteria food at Regis was possibly the best food these kids have seen in a while. Back to reality for me! Sure, they also chatted about friendship and what they were learning and how that will help them later in life, but to hear that something as seemingly simple as the food was important to them was part of my eye-opening experience.
Even though I've traveled extensively abroad, I've always been one of those "think globally, act locally" folks. I've not been as interested in going on mission trips to Africa, for example, when there are struggles right here on the Front Range. For me, finding a charity that I could see and touch just means so much more for me. I cheer those who love to participate internationally in charity causes, but for me I'll stay local.
PBLA is important for what I mentioned above... to see how the kids can achieve and excel with some support, guidance, and opportunity. It's also nice that they can eat pretty good too!!!
I am hoping to have more time to support the program if I can figure out how to cut back just a bit at work. The hazard of building a very unique niche is that it's difficult to find people to delegate things too, and who can take over for me. I am a former airline pilot, but I have also simultaneously been a physician (originally trained in old-school family practice, including delivering babies, adults, kids, whatever). These days I almost exclusively help airline pilots recover from medical issues so that we can get our most experienced (hence safest) pilots back into the cockpit. This is how we reduce accidents... keeping our most experienced pilots flying. I'm also very busy in our program to assist pilots in recovery from drug/alcohol issues. We have a great program with a nearly 90% long-term sobriety rate. This program is my other "calling" in my professional life.
Now, finding a bit more time for PBLA is my next project. I also hope to possibly integrate some drug/alcohol discussions at the summer camp.
As far as the PBLA "shrine" in my office, when I'm seeing clients I wear a PBLA shirt every day so it's in their faces on that level too!