YAKIMA, Wash. – You never know when a meaningful moment is going to happen in your life. Sure, we’d like to think that every moment is extraordinary, but the truth is our lives can be mundane at times. That’s why I have to tell you about an experience that touched me over the weekend.
As a lot of you know, I’m very active in the Yakima chapter of the Relay for Life. You can click here to see why it’s so important to me. I’ve set a personal fundraising goal of $10,000 and if I meet it I will dye my hair purple and anchor the news with it. You can donate here to help make that happen.
Now, there’s a reason for that shameless plug. That’s because it has something to do with my special moment. It took place Saturday at the Relay for Life yard sale event. I showed up with a table for the KIMA team to sell a few things hoping to raise money for the cause. The team was getting rid of two poker tables, a DVD player, a CD player, a coffee maker, some clothes and more. We actually had four working [analog], “old-school” televisions. I tried my hardest to get some cash for them. I wound up getting $3 each. That includes a 32” set in great shape. Wow, have times changed!
While I’m a full-time news guy, I was a hard-core salesman on Saturday. I told everyone who came up to my table about my purple hair campaign. I had a flyer stuck to a piece of cardboard to use as a prop and tell my story. I was wearing a baseball cap, a sweater and eyeglasses. I had to take off my glasses and cap to get people to believe it was really me. Didn’t I say I was shameless?
We had a good crowd coming through almost all day. I got a lot of laughs when I gave my speech. And, I got donations! I was taking anything that anyone was willing and able to give. It was incredibly moving. One-dollar bill after one-dollar bill was being handed to me. So many that I might make some other “professionals” jealous. A few gave more. I saw $5s, $10s, a couple $20s and an incredible kindness of two $50s from two people very close to the cause. I didn’t expect it and my eyes welled up by the surprise.
As if that wasn’t incredible enough, little did I know I was about to be blown away. There she was. The cutest little girl with an angelic smile that was one of the most contagious I’ve ever seen. She had long, brown hair, couldn’t have been more than 5 years old and 3 feet tall.
She and her mom made the rounds through the yard sale and came by my table on their way out of the lot.
“Do you want to see my hair turn purple?” I had to ask. Shameless, I told you.
The little girl nodded and I gave my pitch on cue, thinking her mom might be willing to part with a dollar.
“I don’t have any money,” her mom said.
What happened next stunned me. The little girl dropped to one knee, pulled out an Altoids container and put it on the ground. She took off the lid. It was full of pennies and she grabbed a fistful then reached over to give them to me.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” I asked, now feeling guilty I might be taking away what could be the start of her college fund.
She nodded again and gave me what was in her hand. It was one of the sweetest things I ever saw. She got up, walked over to grab her mom’s hand and waved back as they left.
I was so taken aback by the moment that all of my news instincts failed me. I didn’t ask her name and didn’t take a picture. I’m confident she will go on to do more great things in her life. She’s already off to a wonderful start changing the world. If only I got her name so I could say I knew her when.
At the end of the day, almost everything on the KIMA-TV table was gone. No one bought our old 5-disc CD changer or an old pair of skis. After all those sales and my shameless huckstering for purple hair, we collected $458.92 for the American Cancer Society.
Two weeks into the Turn My Hair Purple campaign, I’ve reached 6 percent of my goal. It’s a good start that I will kick into high gear. I’m determined to get there.
I owe it to the little girl with the Altoids case with 41 pennies in her fist who I’ll never forget.
Some quick Purple Hair Math: Take the 41-Cent ChallengeIf each of the roughly 250,000 people in Yakima County gave 41 cents to my campaign, we'd raise $102,500.
If each of the roughly 90,000 people in Yakima gave 41 cents, we would raise $36,900 for my purple hair.
If each of the roughly 46,000 KIMA Facebook fans gave 41 cents, we would raise $18,400.