I really don’t like asking for help. I know it may sound strange for me to admit this as I ask for help each and every day of my life. But I struggle with it. Sure – I know how to make the request and I know when to ask or when not to ask. However, even when calm adult me is politely making her request for assistance, there is always this tiny voice inside of me whining “Please don’t hate me because I’m needy and I’m asking for your help!”
Next week I will begin to ask for help with a big goal – in a manner I’m not familiar with. I have been offered the chance of a lifetime and I have accepted this opportunity because I was told many years ago to, “Say YES! Do it all. You never know when you’ll get another chance.”
In 1990, I was accepted to be a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. I spent my senior year of high school in Kingston, Tasmania, Australia. What makes my experience unique is I was one of the first students with a mobility impairment to participate in this international program. It was a year that continues to shape my life, and I’ve written about my experiences here. I have not returned to Australia since my last visit in 1996 but it is a constant dream of mine to go back to see friends there.
This past July I was invited by Rotary District 9830 in Tasmania to speak at their District Conference next March. YES!!! I accepted before I really asked questions and thought this through because a.) Australia! and b.) Well – there really is no other reason. I was offered the chance to make a dream come true and I knew better than to let the opportunity pass me by. “Say YES! Do it all. You never know when you’ll get another chance.”
I have extensive travel experience, but this will be my first international trip using a power wheelchair. Logistics are time consuming. I have found a travel buddy who will act as my personal assistant (thank you cousin Kelly!). Unsolicited help has been coming to me from many sources. The Rotary District in Tasmania is going to fund part of my travel. The wonderful Rotarians in Kingston, Tasmania (my former host club) are going to assist me with obtaining wheelchair accessible ground transportation. Yesterday, I received a very generous gift from the Bainbridge Rotary Club (my former sponsor club here in New York).
Even with all of this, I will need to suck up my pride and ask others for financial assistance. I have to get not just me there, but my assistant. The Medicaid program which funds my personal care does not allow me to accrue personal assets to pay for a trip like this. So, next week I will launch a crowdfunding campaign – something I have never done and something I have always viewed with skepticism. I am a confident fundraiser when it comes to helping organizations get money, but admitting I need help in order to make a dream come true is difficult. Letting others help me means I have to give up control and have faith things will work out.
But throughout this planning process I have known (hoped?) that indeed, things will come together. This trip will be a reality. It will happen because I am blessed with generous friends and family who understand what this trip means to me and who are happy to help make it possible. This love and support is overwhelming and honestly, I don’t know how to process such acts of generosity. Usually this manifests itself in me weeping with gratitude as I did last night when I opened the gift from Bainbridge Rotary. The world is full of more deserving causes and people. The fact others want to help me fulfill a dream means I have to make saying yes mean something.
I never intended to use my blog for fundraising and I’m only posting this on here now because for the next month I will be sharing my 30 Days of Thanks series of posts. I started my blog now so I would have practice blogging before the trip. I do plan to chronicle the journey here and share my adventure with everyone as it unfolds. I will be happy if my success inspires a potential exchangee or another person with a disability to explore the world. I will be even happier if my readers follow my lead to face a fear of their own and step outside of their comfort zone to follow a dream.
I look forward to the next 30 Days of Thanks. Here’s hoping I have a big announcement to make about learning to say please and overcoming my fear of asking for financial help at the end of the month. I have faith. This will happen.