My former career spanned some 25-years in the fund raising arena. I gave up this lifetime career in September 2007 - only seven short months ago to travel fulltime in our Prevost RV bus conversion. Did this career time matter? Maybe it did. Two recent occurrences reminded me of those days spent seeking philanthropic support and brought me back to the very beginning of two very significant outcomes.
First, I felt that life went full circle in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. My work as a consultant brought me to the Brownsville/Harlingen/McAllen region in August 2001. Back then, I conducted a feasibility study for the public broadcasting station KMBH-TV, part of RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc. operated by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville. The Diocese hired Ketchum in reaction to the expected switch from analog to digital broadcasting. Though federally mandated, it was unfunded by the government. For three weeks on the ground in the Valley, I interviewed nearly 50 community leaders testing their commitment to raise several million dollars to purchase the capital equipment necessary for the conversion. Time has passed and now, seven years later the circle closed when I attended a lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Edinburg, Texas. The lunch time speaker delivered a program: “The switch to digital television (DTV) is coming.” Listening to Tim Smith, Chief Meteorologist for New Channel 5 KRGV-TV, talk about the switch set to happen by February 17, 2009 reminded me of the time when preparations began. I was in the Rio Grande Valley when this started, and I was again in the Valley when implementation neared it beginning.
A second career marker struck me on our visit to “Historic Downtown Goliad.” Barrier horses blocked access to the streets surrounding the courthouse square so we parked in a bank lot on the perimeter and approached a man sitting in a golf cart. He introduced himself as the Chairman for Goliad’s Relay for Life. Before he could explain the nature of this fund raising event benefiting the work of the American Cancer Society (ACS), I extended my hand to his. As an ACS Executive Director, I became inspired by the event founder Dr. Gordy Klatt of Tacoma, Washington. Following his model, I had launched Westmoreland and Indiana Counties’ first Relay for Life in 1995 with a small volunteer committee and resistance by my staff. Our event raised a celebratory $15,000 with only five teams. When I left ACS in 1997 after 10-years with the organization, the event grew exponentially in numbers of teams and charitable contributions. The event was begin tested back then and has grown to be a nationwide signature event. I felt pride walking among the teams. I also felt a twinge of sadness to see the luminaries encircling the four city blocks, each candle would be lit at dusk and dedicated to someone lost to cancer, fighting the disease, or living with cancer.
My career had touched the foundation of both the digital conversion and the launch of the Relay for Life. At times like these, I do not question our decision to relax and travel. These occurrences tell me that I have been a small part of something big, lasting, a career legacy.