Thursday, April 2, 2009

Auto Show Day 2

After a tasty cookout and visit with friends last night, I arrived back at the garage around 8am to light the car up and prepare for the crowds. It was drizzling and being a weekday, most of the folks were retirees. This is the south, and much of the attendees were dressed in stereotypical denim farmer overalls, or camouflage pants. And of course, ball caps.
The day was long and a little disheartening. I played the video on Parkinson’s and the mission, along with some brief clips from Back to the Future, which helped with the education part of our goal, but donations were going to be a struggle it seemed. Many would read the sign “Take a photo, but give hope”, quickly snap a picture, grab a brochure and move away as if an emergency had just come up. More than a handful of people replied that they were out of work, as I started welcoming them to make a donation. There was no shortage of cameras and video recorders, and people seemed quite enthused about seeing the car and taking what they could from the experience. I quickly realized that once they purchased their ticket into the auto fair, they did not expect to spend anything more beyond a corn dog and a ‘Sham-Wow.’ And I can’t blame them. I questioned my wisdom of exhibiting at this show, and quickly tried to think of ways to turn things around and make it more of a success. My growing frustration was soon diffused. One particular man seemed to really study the video and the car and the donation signs. He wasn’t repelled by the invitation to help cure a disease. After some careful and genuine consideration, he approached the donation jar and without stopping, placed a prepared bill in the top. With a tight throat, seeming to force back emotions, he whispered ‘My wife has Parkinsons.’ He kept moving, not wanting to engage in conversation.
In a way, I am grateful. It would have been very difficult for the both of us.
But he had given more than he realized. He gave me a gift of renewed resolve, and encouragement, right at the moment I needed it. This weekend was going to be a struggle, but if I had given up, it wouldn’t have progressed as wonderfully as it did.

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