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Churchill is right – we make a life by what we give

August 1, 2012
 

Thank you Michael and Amy and northeastern Colorado for a magical night!

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” I have been blown away by the charity shown by northeastern Colorado for my brother-in-law and his family.

In the past couple of months, Matt had surgery to remove testicular cancer, underwent chemotherapy treatments, and his wife Jaime gave birth to a 3-pound, 11-ounce baby, who was in the NICU for 10 days because he was so small. During all of this, he and his wife had to take a lot of unpaid time off leave, along with enormous medical bills.

My wife Kerri really wanted to do something for him to help with their financial situation. Luckily, she had connections to a duo of amazing dueling piano entertainers, Michael and Amy. Even though the connection wasn’t that close, Michael and Amy, a husband-and-wife act, were more than happy to help out when Kerri told them about the situation.

Once we had the entertainment lined up, we thought it would be great if 100 or so people showed up and we could raise $1,000 to $1,500. Kerri went to work setting a date and a venue.

Through constant promotion on Facebook, along with help from local media sponsors “South Platte Sentinel” and 105.7 KPMX, the word of the benefit event travelled throughout the northeastern part of the state. To defray the expense of the cost to bring Michael and Amy out, Kerri reached out to local businesses with a sponsorship package.

I don’t think either of knew quite what to expect, but neither of us thought it would be as an amazing success as it was. We had 26 businesses agree to help sponsor the event, even though many of them couldn’t even take advantage of using the tickets to attend. We also had some family sponsorships, including one family who wished to remain anonymous.

In addition, we have raised $1,200 as of July 30 with online donations at www.indiegogo.com/renquistbenefit and lots of businesses and individuals gave more the night of the event.

Altogether, we sold around 350 tickets and lots of donations from folks who couldn’t attend. Michael and Amy gave an amazing performance at the Sterling Ramada  Inn courtyard and most everyone who attended were thrilled to see great entertainment in Sterling and have the money go to a young family in need.

Lots of people paid more than the $15 ticket price, and numerous individuals stepped up to help sell tickets, promote the show, set up and tear down the lighting, sound equipment and pianos before and after the event, and take tickets and seat people at the event.

The Santas of Sterling Miracle Letter Program gave a gift the night of the show that brought tears to my eyes, and Thrivant Financial for Lutherans also has pledged to give.

The one thing Kerri and I feel bad about is we’re afraid we cannot express our gratitude enough to everyone who contributed with their time, talents or treasures.

When I hear national news, it is easy to get depressed about the state of the world. We’re a couple of weeks out of a horrific theater shooting in Aurora, but we’re just a couple of days out from an incredible event that shows just how great humanity can be. We are so thankful to live where we do and to be blessed with amazing family, friends and citizens in this community.

The experience to see Kerri help her brother and to see the community help our family was priceless. And I have seen how much joy people can receive by giving. The love I felt from all those who were there in person and spirit was awesome.

It is not hard to look around and see the evil that results from the love of money, and to find stories about how greed has destroyed amazing people.

But, money itself isn’t a bad thing. A gift of money can be extremely helpful when people fall on hard times. It is hard for broke people to help others out. It is great there are so many in this area who have been successful and are willing to pay it forward.

Thank you, Sterling and northeastern Colorado! You have provided a lifeline to my Matt, Jaime and Rece Renquist, and you have given Kerri and I a high from the experience that it will take a while to come down from.

Because of your generosity, our dream of $1,000 and a few family and friends expanded to a major night of entertainment and about $10,000 raised. You have shown Kerri and I how you make a life, and I hope I can pay the favor back to many of you in the future.

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