The Power of One
When someone leaves behind a legacy of love, you learn the power of one person.
By Tom Karlya
July 2009 — Lisa Carlinsky passed away recently. She was just 36, had a young son, and was married to Mark. Mark is my little brother, because about 30 years ago, I made him my little brother and he made me an older brother and from there, a friendship grew. Lisa was as beautiful as she was smart, strong as she was gentle, and had a heart the size of an ocean.
When she left, there were tears enough to fill one.
Lisa battled cancer longer than any doctor thought she would and through her life I learned a hugely powerful phrase that will live inside me forever, and thusly so will Lisa. That phrase is simple - the power of one person.
Lisa believed in all of her heart that if she lived her time, as long or short as it may be, as both a realist and an optimist, she would provide real hope for people who face challenges. Mark and Lisa both kept in contact with everyone through an online support mechanism, and the original plan was to keep in touch with family and friends on Lisa's progress via periodic updates. Should someone read the postings that were not part of the family and be inspired, that would be okay, too.
Lisa showed how the power of one person could make a difference in so many ways: her strength and courage to face incredible odds; her decision to enroll in scientific study after scientific study where even if she was not helped she would say, " … the doctors would learn to help someone else …"; her ability to share the good and the bad with a twist of humor and compassion; her love for her family and her friends; and an incredible zeal for living even when her body said no more. Lisa and Mark's writings were shared for the hundred or so friends and family who were inspired with each word. But then something happened.
People who were not part of the inner circle started reading the posts, and they became inspired. And the hundred became five hundred. More people read and they became inspired, and in no time the number rose to 1000, then 1500, and finally 3500 people followed Lisa's life. Both Lisa and Mark were so inspiring in the face of incredible tragedy that people were taught how to face adversity with the same attitude. And then something else happened.
A TV station found out about Lisa's story and they ran the story on the evening news. Now millions heard her story and were inspired by the magic she possessed - the determination to live life and taste every last drop.
Shortly thereafter, this icon of strength lay still, her lessons all taught.
Millions heard. Millions inspired. The power of one person.
So I have decided in honor of my friend Lisa, that each June, the month of her birth, I will bestow my Lisa Awards. These awards will just be kudos to people who understand the power of one person who, in their own way and means, can indeed change the world, just as Lisa did.
These people do not do ‘it' (whatever ‘it' is) for themselves; they do it because they think something will make a difference in the lives of those with diabetes. So here are my first Lisa Award Winners. Lisa would have loved each of you.
JEFF HITCHCOCK - Probably for as long as I live this, man will be placed atop any list there is pertaining to helping others with diabetes. In 1995 he flipped a switch called ChildrenWithDiabetes so his beloved daughter could converse with other kids who had diabetes online. Now millions of people have learned so much about diabetes along with the most important lesson of all – that kids with diabetes are just kids.
LAURA BILLETDEAUX – She was one of the moms chatting on CWD when she had an idea to have a group of parents met in Florida. But little did they know that they would be creating one of the greatest kid-friendly conferences on the face of the earth. Just one decade later, 3,500 people will gather this summer at Disney World in Florida to learn how to cope with diabetes and enjoy being a family.
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