The idea of “to whom much is given, much will be required” is that we are held responsible for what we have. If we are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we use these well to benefit others. This belief has become somewhat of an idiom in Western culture and is found, paraphrased, in many places from scripture to Uncle Ben’s words of wisdom to Peter Parker in Spider-man: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
When I first got the phone call from Denise Rich about being honored at The 2018 Angel Ball, her annual fundraiser to raise money for blood cancer research, I felt an instant connection. Of course, I’d heard about Denise and her wonderful work, but it was actually the first time that we’d ever spoken. After speaking to her, I quickly found that we connected both as women in business, and we connected as moms.
As Denise described her foundation to me and the inspiration behind it, I became overwhelmed with emotion. She shared the story of her daughter Gabrielle, and how it she asked Denise to help find a cure for her cancer, so that no one else would have to suffer the way that she did. Gabrielle wanted her mom to start a foundation. Denise said to her, “The world doesn’t need another foundation.” But her daughter was insistent. She made her promise. So Denise said to her, “Okay. I promise as long as you’ll help me from the other side.” And Gabrielle said, “I will.”
The fact that Denise lost her beautiful daughter to cancer and then found the strength to carry out her daughter’s last wish by creating a foundation to help others…well, that was truly one of the most loving and inspiring acts I’d ever heard of. And then Denise shared with me that Gabrielle would be alive today because of all of the medical advances that have been made through the foundation that bears her daughter’s name.
I’m a mom with a daughter whom I love dearly, and so this remarkable story struck a chord deep inside of me.
When we hung up, I thought to myself…I can only imagine.
I can only imagine the heartache that Denise experienced, and the strength and courage that it took to honor her daughter’s last wish. Creating such an important foundation in her memory.
I can only imagine the strength and courage it’s taken for the Angel Ambassadors, those whose lives have been impacted by the same disease that took Gabrielle and who are here with us today because of the wonderful work from Gabrielle’s Angels.
I can only imagine the strength and courage it takes for some of you reading this who have survived cancer, or are close to someone who has.
What I realized after that first phone call with Denise was that as moms, we instantly became family. There’s a special bond that mothers share. But as I stood at the podium this past week, accepting the honor Denise and her organization bestowed upon me, I also understand the connection is so much more than that. What started with Denise and her own family--daughters Daniela and Ilona—and son-in-law Philip Aouad--expanded into something much bigger. In order to fully honor Gabrielle’s last wish, Denise needed to expand her family. I felt deeply honored to be there…to be a part of a big, beautiful family who is doing so much to save the lives of so many.
A promise to an angel.
I can only imagine what that’s like.
What I can imagine though, is what we all can do together.
What can you imagine?How can you use your super powers for good?
What are you doing to make an impact and add more value in the world?
Each of us has the power, the ability to do something that positively affects change, whether it’s donating our time, money or other resources to completely impact the lives of others.
What I can imagine is that through the great work that Denise Rich and her family are doing, Gabrielle’s Angels will continue to educate and innovate and fund research for as long as it takes to find a cure. And yes, I can imagine that one day, we will find a cure for cancer.