Friday, December 2, 2011

Filanthropy Friday

Today is a twofer, but get your Kleenex ready. 

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. In honor of the day, I selected amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research as my charity of the week. 

Ironically, earlier this week I was listening to a Radio Lab podcast while running called Patient Zero (the air date was 11/15 so it had nothing to do with World AIDS Day).  The podcast had one segment on finding patient zero for HIV.  Spoiler Alert - it's not the French flight attendant as portrayed in the mini-series And The Band Played On. No one knows the identity of patient zero - but the leading theory is called, "The Cut Hunter".   The story goes something like this - In the early 1900s an African hunter killed a chimpanzee. While he was (how do I say this?) butchering the chimp, he cut himself and the chimp's blood got into the hunter's blood stream.  As really, really bad luck might have it this chimp was infected with a strain of HIV (called SIV) that was able to mutate, survive and thrive in humans. 

According to the podcast, twelve strains of SIV  have passed from chimps, gorillas and monkeys to humans, but only this one (from a chimp) has manage to survive and thrive in humans.  The podcast further went on to try and locate chimp zero and they traced it back to two forms of monkey SIV that combined in the stomach of a chimp (apparently chimpanzees eat monkeys).  

I found all this research extremely fascinating which is why I decided to donate $25 to amfAR.  As a foundation, they are dedicated to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, improving treatment for those with HIV/AIDS and ultimately eradicating the virus. 

OK, so oddly enough all the HIV/AIDS chimp-eating-monkey stuff was NOT the sad part of today's Filanthropy Friday. (Warning to those with fragile hearts, please do not continue)

My well-known (at least to my blog readers) friend, Liz, has some good friends in Chicago (Sam and Suzie Tinaglia) with a son (Sam Jr.) who has been fighting leukemia most of his thirteen years.  It went into remission for a while, but it has returned.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, the Chicago Bears visited Sam Jr. (and other children) at the Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago.  It was featured on the local news:

I cannot say it enough (I've said it so many times on so many previous Fridays), there's nothing I wouldn't do to help a parent with a sick child.  I'm so thankful that I've never had to experience the pain of  a sick child (it actually makes me grateful for Cub's tantrums) - I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.

Being the thoughtful person Liz is, she wrote to Suzie (Sam Jr.'s mom) and asked if there was a specific charity they would like money donated to in Sam's honor and she selected Bear Necessities.  Their mission is to the eliminate pediatric cancer and to help those families (both financially and emotionally) dealing with it.   

Reading about Bear Necessities absolutely breaks my heart.  It was started by a woman who lost her eight year old son (Barrett "Bear") to cancer.  Prior to her son's death, they had discussed starting the organization because her son (at such a young age) had more concern for other patients than himself.  He and his mother realized there were gaps in the emotional treatment provided to families dealing with cancer.  

I donated $25 to Bear Necessities in Sammy Tinaglia's honor.  With all my heart, I hope he beats the crap out cancer. 


  1. Stephanie

    This post illustrates why I adore you. You are so kind and generous to help Sammy. I donated $25 to Bear Necessities in Sammy's honor as well. Sammy's dad and I went to college together and back then I never would have imagined that the very nice, very smart, beer drinking, foosball enthusiast named Sam Tinaglia would one day have a child with cancer. But Sam and his wife Suzie have been fighting with grace, faith, and strength that they probably never knew they had in them until this horrible thing happened to Sammy. He is so lucky to have parents like Sam and Suzie and they are raising a very strong son whom I hope finally beats this disease so he can live a full and happy life.

    In many ways you remind me of Suzie (except for your crazy love of Splenda) and Cash is so lucky that you and Matt are his parents.

    As I mentioned on Facebook earlier today, because of your awesome blog post and generous donation in Sammy's honor I am going to give you a little gift: For the next 24 hours (starting at 10:20 am today) I will not publicly tease you or make fun of anything you do. So go matter how much candy you order from strangers via the internet during this 24 hour period it will not elicit so much as a smirk from me. You're welcome.


  2. Two great organizations! Thank you for the information about patient zero...I read And The Band Played On in college and volunteered at AIDS Foundation Houston for many years, so the cause is near and dear to me. And, thank you for sharing the story of Sammy and Bear Necessities.