We live in a strange world.
I think we’re all aware of it, somewhere deep down in our gut, but we generally try not to think about it. We do our best to distract ourselves with Netflix binges (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was amazing) and video games (who doesn’t love Mario Kart) and March Madness (see: How Villanova ruined my life/bracket). We see this strangeness, this obsession with material oddities, and at one point or another all of us feel this soft pang of guilt.
“Why should I care?” it says.
Consider my work friend Colin (not his real name). A wonderful guy, has three kids and a wife, but recently he lost his job to a series of unfortunate events outside of his control. Colin is a great friend of mine, but when we discuss these events, I can’t help but want to change the subject. For some reason, something inside me just wants to pretend Colin has a job. That he’s going to be just fine. And that I shouldn’t worry too much about it. Maybe I’m heartless. Maybe that’s the problem.
Or maybe I’m not. A week prior to the unfortunate incidents coming to a head, Colin told me that he was considering dropping cable. Things were getting tight, financially, and I had about a half a heart-attack.
“Dropping cable? How are you going to see how bad I beat you in our March Madness bracket?” (P.S. I didn’t. See: How Villanova ruined my life/bracket)
After hearing he was switching to Netflix, I gladly offered Colin a place on my couch for any subsequent basketball or soccer game (not football because that guy is a cold-blooded Packer Fan and I am 100% Minnesotan).
My point remains. I saw a material problem Colin was having and I had an easy solution — so I offered it. A week later, I saw an emotional problem that another human being was having tacked on a physical issue of finance — and feeling I was not capable of solving both I had trouble even helping on one front.
I came around, eventually. But it stunned me that this action required “coming around” at all.
But again. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just a huge jerk.
Or maybe it’s all of us.
Consider the following:
We live in a world where a guy can raise over $55,000 to make potato salad. It was a prank. A giant prank. And yet it netted $55,000. That’s more than a lot of people make in a year.
Yet when I search GoFundMe for people who need help with medical expenses in my OWN zip code ALONE, I find 21,000 results. And aside from a VERY select few, all of these results combined still doesn’t net what one guy made in cold hard cash for a joke involving potato salad. Heck, many of these medical expense issues have had little or no money donated to them.
And that’s local to me. Just me.
The message I get from this is that people care more about potato salad than people.
“But Brian, it’s a risk thing. You see, I don’t know these people or their situation. And maybe they’re just preying on my feeble heartstrings to take my hard-earned money.”
Do you know what Potato Salad guy used his money for? Neither do I. But I certainly know what he didn’t use it for — charity. He said so. He didn’t donate a dime because that was his “hard earned cash.”
So its okay to donate money when we know it’s a joke, but when we’re not certain if it’s real, we’re afraid? Afraid of what exactly? Afraid of being wrong? Afraid our two dollar donation will fund a Porsche?
**Takes a deep breath**
This isn’t about criticizing humanity. I’m a part of it (and as previously stated, I am possibly a horrible human being).
This is about a girl named Nikki.
I first met Nikki online. In fact, I’ve never actually met Nikki in person, but I know a heck of a lot about her.
I played in a band and she supported me. She bought my albums. She commented on my Facebook page, my Twitter page, my Myspace page, my Bandspace page — basically if I had a page she was commenting on it.
She joined video chats with the band on a weekly basis. She laughed with us as we performed shows and aired band practices and she told everyone she knew about us. And I mean everyone. If you knew Nikki and somehow managed to not hear about us, well you should just go out right now and buy a lottery ticket because trust me — it’s a winner.
Nikki was one of our first fans. She was more than a fan to us. She became our friend. Nikki is always compassionate. She is always loving. She is always thinking about everyone else in the world but herself.
And my friend Nikki needs a kidney.
She’s had chronic kidney disease since she was an infant. It started with a stomach virus when she was 18 months old, and that’s when the doctors first realized she had serious kidney problems. They’d overflow and she’d get infection after infection.
Three major surgeries later, things seemed to be looking up, until her senior year of high school (2008). She was in and out of the hospital every two weeks with another infection and the complications that came with it.
In 2010 her kidney function dropped to 10-15% of a normal kidney, so she had to have surgery on her arm to prepare for dialysis. It was coming time to get on the list for a new kidney. Once dialysis started, Nikki got a part time job to try to help out and made it about 5 months before the extra wear and tear on her body risked another infection and she had to quit.
Medical expenses are mostly covered by insurance, but there are some things they don’t cover.
For one, Nikki’s transplant surgery would happen in Atlanta (3 hours round trip from her). She’d stay there for an extended period after the operation, and then need to go into that hospital three times a week post-op for dialysis and to ensure no complications occurred. When possible, her mom and her stay in a hotel room to skip the drive.
Travel is not covered by medical insurance and she may have to do this for quite some time post-op.
And then there’s the anti-rejection medication. You’d think medication would be covered by insurance, and you’d be partly right. Her insurance covers it for 36 months after the operation, but that’s it. Unfortunately, she’ll need to take it the rest of her life, and it’s a few thousand dollars per month.
There are grants she can (hopefully) get to help with this cost but there are no guarantees.
For now, her and her family need a phone call, a new kidney, and a little financial support to cover the trips that will begin in a flurry the moment they get the call. So far they’ve been waiting over 4 years for that call.
My friend Nikki — she needs a helping hand.
I think the real test of humanity is what we do when we have an opportunity to help. After all, 20,000 plus people were willing to donate a dollar for a guy to make potato salad. And how much does a retweet cost? How about an email? How much does a post on facebook cost? Or a personal message to a friend?
How difficult is it to skip a McDonalds happy meal and donate $5 to a girl who just wants to make it to dialysis three times a week?
Just so she can keep her kidneys working.
Just so she can feel like garbage.
Just so she can fight back against something that’s been trying to crush her from the day she was born.
Or am I right? Is Potato Salad more important than people?
Do me a favor. Click the link above. Donate. If not, at least share it. Help Nikki.
Prove me wrong.