First, I will start off by saying I have never blogged before so bear with me. Maybe I should have chosen an easier topic but I feel strongly that this needs to be the topic I address first. Over the last few months many people have asked what Yes We Can Sir is all about and why I am so passionate about it. So for those of you who don’t already know, here is some background.
In February of 2012, my friend and neighbor was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. It was the day many lives would be forever changed. Although I had lost both my dad and grandfather to cancer this was a whole new experience for me. How could a 34 year old have cancer let alone colon cancer? Needless to say I was very naïve. How could someone so young have cancer, it is supposed to be an elderly person's disease, right?
After the shock of learning of Michelle's condition, her family and friends banded together and started putting plans in motion for a fundraiser to help her. You see, her diagnosis came very shortly after her husband got laid off from his job. I was committed to helping them so I jumped on board. A whirlwind of conversations, and meetings took place in a short period of time followed by commitments with vendors to make this event happen. I was beyond amazed.
During all the craziness of planning the event, Michelle and one of her friends went for a walk. Although I don’t know exactly how their conversation went, I do know Michelle was asked what she heard when she heard the word "cancer". Michelle replied "I will not be afraid of cancer, it simply means Yes I Can Sir!" - The benefit for Michelle now had a name!
Finally, it was benefit day! The weather did not cooperate at all. It was raining and windy! Did that stop people from attending an outdoor event? NO! I was speechless. I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of people that walked into the event. How could a small group of people from a little town like Scotia pull off such a successful event! Everyone was amazed at what was accomplished and Michelle was beyond grateful!
About a week later Michelle came down and watched me work. As we were sitting in my office (and she was cringing over my lack of organization!) she told me she needed to pay it forward and here is the plan she came up with. She wanted to make an organization that would help cancer families with medical bills, groceries, daycare, or anything else they may need. In essence, to be a support system. She would say, "Do you know how many people out there have to face this illness alone?" Before she could even finish I knew I wanted to be a part of this. I looked at her and said, "Count me in, if you want my help!" She smiled that amazing smile of hers and said, "Why do you think I am here?" So, the "accountant" side of me took over.
What’s the process? What paper work needs to be filled out? Little did I know the nonprofit charity application is 36 pages long! On top of that bylaws, mission statement and articles of incorporation all needed to be created to go along with this monster application!
Michelle and I put our heads together and met whenever she was feeling up to it. We accomplished it all- even as she was struggling with surgery and treatments. The paper work was finally mailed in August of 2012. Phew! Half way there we thought! A year later, yes a whole year later, we received our letter that Yes We Can Sir was an official 501(c)(3)!
Now to be incorporated by NYS. More paperwork. This wasn’t so bad only 4 pages! At this point Michelle had more bad days than good and this paperwork was pushed to the side. We lost Michelle on New Year’s Day of 2014. The paperwork was still incomplete. Shortly after Michelle’s funeral, I knew I needed to get off the couch and do something. So, I started focusing all my energy on continuing to make Michelle's dream a reality. On March 28th 2014 we became incorporated!
My dream and desire is to make this organization everything Michelle envisioned it could be. Michelle was an amazing woman. Little did I know when I met her that my time with her would be so short. She did, however leave me a whole new set of friends and family that I cherish. In fact, without their love and support YWCS would not be where it is today and for that I am thankful.
YWCS is not just an organization, for me it’s the laughter, love, sorrow, joy and struggles my friend endured for the last 2 years of her life. There is not a day that goes by that she is not in my thoughts and thoroughly missed.
Due to Michelle’s influence in my life, I want to make as many cancer patients and their families smile even if it is just for one day. I want them to hear what Michelle said. "Don’t be afraid of cancer… It simply means, "Yes I Can Sir".