12/6/2013 11:18 AM
By Paul Willgoss
If we can do this with a little yellow man… what can’t we do?
It’s between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it’s that odd time of year where it’s dark, dank, and chilly and generally we all need cheering up. So this is unashamedly a positive blog, about a silly little thing of no consequence.
About a year ago the organisation I am very proud of being the Vice Chair of, the Children’s Heart Federation, started a fun “competition” where all people had to do was take a little yellow man to as many interesting places as possible. That to me sounded like a job for the international GUCH community.
Herbie, the little yellow dude, started by running a half marathon with me – it wouldn’t be much of a visit with me if he didn’t do something active! He then went to Germany for Octoberfest, New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.S.A. in Philadelphia – at the ACHA office, no less – and then in Amy Verstappen’s bag for a trip to South Africa, off to the East Coast for a wedding party and then to South America… I’ve probably missed somewhere, or got the order wrong, and apologies to those who’ve hosted him and I’ve missed.
With nothing more than a smile, a free Facebook group and some willing, we sent a little yellow man around the world. I’m still irked that someone else managed to get him to Antarctica, and mildly miffed that I couldn’t find a GUCH in Asia. But—and this is a huge but—if we can do this when nothing is at stake, when all we are doing if having a bit of fun, what are we capable of if it is important?
There are things a lot easier to share than Herbie. Emails and websites know no boundaries, and the best of care can be defined and shared far quicker than the collective postal system of the world. And that more than anything else is the positive to take from this blog. The world is a lot smaller than it used to be; we GUCHs can share information as quick, if not quicker, than our doctors. We are not alone.
As for Herbie, I hope he’s well adventuring up a river gorge, looking a lot like a jaundiced Indiana Jones, smiling on his adventures with our community wondering what we’ll be doing next.
So as the nights darken, and the chill reaches our bones, remember that if we can do things magical when nothing is at stake, we can produce wonders when things do matter!
See you in 2014 for more misadventures, running and me generally being me.
Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.
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