Here at the Fool, we may be focused on getting the most out of your money, but we believe in the importance of charitable giving as well. And while a great many Fools share this belief, a British Fool recently outdid himself in terms of philanthropy... and Foolanthropy.
John Habkirk, who posts on the Fool UK discussion board using the handle Squiffs, recently completed the London Marathon benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC) and pulled in the U.S. equivalent of approximately $33,000 in donations for the organization, much of it pledged by Fools.
All of this is quite impressive enough, and it's especially inspiring for those of us who rarely, if ever, get off our duffs to do any such fundraising -- much less run an entire marathon. However, the story is even more remarkable. John has an even more personal relationship with this cause. He actually lives with multiple sclerosis, and he completed the marathon -- all 26.2 miles of it! -- using elbow crutches. He even dressed like a clown for the occasion. (For a post that includes pictures from the race, please click here.)
"People had told me I was mad to even attempt 26.2 miles on crutches, but there was no way I was backing out on this one," Squiffs said in this post recounting the experience. "When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 17, 2005, I did wonder, just for a little while, what I had let myself in for."
Fool caps off to Squiffs! It's people like him who believe in a cause and decide to do something about it -- regardless of what may be difficult odds -- who make the world a better place. David Gardner himself spoke of how much he loved this story and suggested that all of Fooldom should be able to read about it.
True, our own Foolanthropy initiative usually receives the most attention around the holidays, which is when most people start thinking about giving, and charities and fundraisers of all kinds start vying for attention. But this story reminds us that there's room to give to -- or be involved in -- such causes all year round.
In response to the donations from Fools and others who are helping to keep the organization going, John offered "a big thanks, because without you all we wouldn't have the MSRC there for us, and I'm sure you'd all agree with me when I say that they who put the time into the MSRC have been lifesavers for us all. I know the MSRC, the New Pathways mag, and this board have been my anchor over the past few months, so from the bottom of my heart I say THANK YOU to you all!"
This is a story that also underlines the importance of teamwork and community. Fools in the UK opened their hearts -- and their pocketbooks -- to support Squiffs' endeavor. Web communities joined forces as the discussion board communities at Fool UK and MSRC worked together for a common aim.
And of course, there's power in the fact that Squiffs had a whole slew of people who simply came out and cheered him on -- one of the things that makes any endeavor a whole lot easier.
"Without the support of the Fool, and the boarders, in general, the MSRC would not be able to provide the ongoing service to MSers that it does," John said. "To put it into perspective, with the money so far raised, £17,500, we will be able to maintain the 24-hour Freephone Telephone Counselling Service for everyone affected by MS, not only MSers but their families and friends, for another 17+ months." He continued: "This is something everyone from the Fool should be proud of, as with every donation you have given, you have helped many more people than you can imagine to seek help, guidance, and a shoulder when they need it most."
Fools love to be self-determined investors who take the future into their own capable hands -- but let's face it, money doesn't make the world go round, and most often, those of us who try to make a difference in some way are the ones who find ourselves the happiest in the long run.
While most of us generally talk about our Fool Community in terms of investing, sharing stock ideas, and sometimes even sparring when we disagree, it's times like this that remind us of something even more important -- it's also a place where people connect, make friends, help each other, and find life just a little bit more enriching.
If you would like to donate to the cause that inspired John Habkirk, please click here. (Remember, donations are in British pounds -- simply divide the amount of your donation in American dollars in half to figure out the amount in pounds.) Because he reached the £17,500 barrier, MSRC CEO Lawrence Wood shaved off his beard -- if donations reach the £20,000 mark, Squiffs vowed to wax his legs (ouch!) and Wood will shave his head, so obviously, the challenge is still on.