Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How My Father Retarded a Cure for MS

When I attended elementary school, every year, we held the "MS Read-a-thon," which raised money for multiple sclerosis research. For those of you who never sat through a schoolwide assembly touting the MS Read-a-thon (where we were encouraged by the principal to "applaud politely, or if you can't do that, sit on your hands"), one collects names of sponsors who pledge X amount of money for every book one reads during the fundraising drive.

Back in my day, sponsors typically pledged about five cents or 25 cents for every book we read. If one was lucky enough to get two bits (25 cents) from a sponsor, one nearly fell off the porch. ("Hold on there, Vanderbilt! A whole quarter-dollar? This will leapfrog the development of MS research into the next decade!") I'm sure the going rate now is more akin to a dollar or so.

Anyway, my father had a weekly mah-jong game with a couple buddies from work, and one of them whipped out the Read-a-thon pamphlet and asked them to sponsor his daughter.

Instead of politely saying "no," my father had to play Cliff Clavin and go into a lecture about why children should read for the love of reading and not for money, even in the name of a good cause.

Come forward two decades. I was best man at the wedding of one of my childhood friends, and I walked around the ballroom during the reception. At the table where my mother and brother sat was also an older couple who looked familiar. They were my next-door neighbors where I lived in my childhood. She was wheelchair bound and could hardly speak, could hardly hold up her head to speak to me. Diagnosis? Multiple sclerosis.

After hearing that, I walked outside and shook my fist at the sky.

"Do you see her, dad?" I screamed. "We could have come up with a cure for her, except you were too high and mighty to give that little girl 20 cents for reading Beezus and Ramona and The Mouse and the Motorcycle! Damn you! Damn you to hell!"

Then the police showed up at the Olive Garden and took me away.

The moral of the story: Don't scream outside Olive Garden, especially at a wedding reception.

Did I mention I'm in therapy? It's...good.


Blogger tamie said...

lmao... I'm not sure how old you are now Andy...

I totally remember those read-a-thon things... only I always used to get tons of money pledged... and I LIKED to read too... this was in the late 80's... so maybe yuppies gave out of guilt or something...

remember the "jump-rope-a-thons" for heart disease... lmao... those were the coolest... and by coolest... I mean or course... LAME... hehe...

12:16 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

LOL this was a great read, Andy!

When I was in 9th grade, we had something similar, but it was a "type-a-thon"...we got people to donate like 5cents for each word per minute. I sucked. After all the mistakes, I really sorta owed them money.

Then the internet came to po'dunk alabama and I learned to type MUCH more efficiently. But, I still can't spell.

10:45 AM  
Blogger tamie said...

I forgot to mention that Andrew's mom HAS MS... so... yea...

3:33 PM  
Blogger goldennib said...

I never had these read-a-thons, but I would've made lots of money if it was for reading, unless if what books you read mattered. They might have charged me for reading books beyond my age level. Isn't it funny how guilty or angry we can feel over this from our childhoods?

6:55 PM  
Blogger goldennib said...

Is there a new topic today? Who was responsible for picking it?

7:08 PM  
Blogger kari said...

i've been slacking on my blog reading/writing duties lately and HOLY CRAP, that is a great story, andy.

3:47 PM  

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