In the last several months, but especially recently, I’ve seen and heard the pain of others as they struggle; be it with physical pain heard in hospital rooms across the hall from my own, or emotional pain as friends face anxiety of not knowing what the future holds when our world changed seemingly overnight in the face of the coronavirus crisis. As someone whose life has been saved several times over the course of 26 years, I count my blessings for every day that I have and commit myself to making the world a better place. In these historic, unprecedented, and terrifying times, it’s easy to feel hopeless, but rather than give in to that hopelessness, I want to do everything I can to channel it for good – and kindness.
And if anyone knows me well enough, you know that, along with kindness, laughing – most often, at my own expense, but sometimes at dumb sitcoms or random Netflix stand-up comedy specials – is one of my favorite things. When I was about thirteen, my sense of humor started to form, even if unintentionally, in large part due to the ridiculous things people would say or do to me as a result of physical disability and using a wheelchair. Fast forward to 26, and that sense of humor is very much intact, as well as my need to give. So when our Executive Director, Maya Enista Smith, approached our team and explained that each of us was being given $250 to be donated on our behalf to an organization of our choice, I was thrilled at the opportunity and immediately knew where I wanted the funds to go.
For my $250, I asked that the funds be donated to a non-profit called Laughing at My Nightmare otherwise known as LAMN. Founded by Shane Burcaw, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, the mission of LAMN is one that is close to my heart, personally and professionally: “Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to spread a message of positivity while providing equipment grants to those living with muscular dystrophy.” Although that isn’t my specific diagnosis, I’ve long admired the work of LAMN from a distance, knowing that disability is incredibly expensive and that kindness, humor and positivity are but a few things that are essential to my own existence (but it’s also perfectly okay if you don’t always feel positive–and a part of being human!). But now, in light of the current crisis that the world is facing, the organization is expanding the scope of its work further in the form of COVID-19 Resource Relief.
The program provides grants in the form of $100 gift cards to be used for necessities for individuals with any disability/chronic illness during this time of quarantine/isolation. For many in the community, quarantine is not a choice, but a means of survival for an already marginalized group. Furthermore, people with disabilities are far more likely to be unemployed and be in poverty than their able-bodied peers; during a massive health crisis and economic turmoil, this $100 can be the difference between life and death. Donating to any organization–but especially one whose cause is personal to me and that will help others who deal with similar struggles in this time of uncertainty–not only helps others heal, but it helps me heal as well. And despite this scary and uncertain time, I’m going to roll with the punches – pun intended – and continue to laugh, and give, into the unknown.
We all have the power to be kind and help others during this time.
- To learn more about the work of Laughing at my Nightmare, Inc. or donate to help others living with disabilities and chronic illnesses, click here.
- If you are someone with a disability or chronic illness in need of financial relief during this time, there is no shame in asking for help. Learn more about Laughing at My Nightmare’s COVID-19 Resource Relief here.
- If you are someone with muscular dystrophy interested in applying for an equipment grant via the No More Nightmares program, LAMN is here to help. Click here for more information.
- It’s important to stay safe and #TogetherAtHome. If you would like to support the work of LAMN, you can participate virtually via the 8th Annual Walk, Roll and Run fundraiser!