Sunday, November 06, 2005

Amazing Grace

**Retrieved from Friendster blog**

Most of you know about Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure from last year, or because it's in the signature of all of my emails, but I don't think I've been talking it up as much this year as I was last year, so here I go again.

 My oldest friend in the whole world, Grace Lin, is a children's book author and illustrator. Some of her books include THE UGLY VEGETABLES, DIM SUM FOR EVERYONE, OLVINA FLIES (named after me), and the upcoming YEAR OF THE DOG, her first novel, which I had the pleasure of editing and is being published at Little, Brown.

This is how the fundraiser started in Grace's own words from the website: 

How it all started 
When Robert and I were married, the skies poured out a river of rain. Our wedding day was wet but it couldn't dampen our happiness. So, when Robert's aunts told me that rain on a wedding day meant good luck, I believed them. However, it seemed that the superstition was horribly false. 
That winter, Robert was diagnosed with bone cancer (Ewings Sarcoma). The treatment was grueling and Robert was left listless and weak.  
One night, I began to tell Robert a story. It was a children's story about a mouse that wasn't allowed in the snow, just like him.  
Robert became interested and it became our pet project. I titled the story Robert's Snow; and as the story grew, so did our hopes for the future.  
Nine months later, Robert was declared cancer free. Robert's Snow was accepted for publication. We felt that our good luck had finally arrived.  
But, in March 2004, Robert's cancer returned. We were devastated. Our doctor told us that Robert's best chance for long-term survival was a breakthrough in cancer research.  
So we decided to help the doctors the best we could. Because Robert's Snow had meant so much to us the first time, we decided to use it as an inspiration for a fund-raiser. We recruited children's book artists to paint wooden snowflakes and auctioned them off–the proceeds going to cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 
The response was tremendous. Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure "snowballed" greater than we ever dreamed. In the end, we raised over $100,000. And this sparked a blizzard. Because of the great interest, we produced a book Robert's Snowflakes which highlights the 2004 snowflakes. And we began work on Robert's Snow 2005, which we hope will be even more successful.  
Robert and I are still immensely touched by the outcome of our project. And I've realized that rain that fell on our wedding day was a sign of good luck after all. Every one of Robert's Snowflakes is a gift of love, community and kindness. Few couples have ever received better presents. Now we share them with you. 

I was on the Robert's Snow committee last year, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to be involved in such a unique project and help raise so much money. This year I took an expanded role of Artist Liason, helping to choose the artists and keeping the communication lines open with them. I can't speak for anyone else on the committee, but I feel that I haven't done as much as I could or as I hoped to. I have the usual good excuses--I'm busier than ever at work, I've had some distracting things happen in my personal life, I've been traveling more than ever this year. But really, Grace is so much more busy, and has so much more going on in her personal life, too. She is the heart, soul and manpower of this project, and what she's done with this fundraiser is absolutely amazing.

The kick-off event was this past Thursday at the Locco Ritoro gallery in the "artsy fartsy" SOWA district in Boston. It was an amazing space, and the snowflakes looked wonderful on the wall. Volunteers really stepped up, donating the space, got tons of food and drink donated, helped set up, and during the event volunteers poured wine, sold raffle tickets and books, took pictures, served food. Jarrett was the emcee and was his usual gregarious, charismatic self. I still have his mantra for promoting the raffle echoing in my head: "One-hundred sixty-five dollars worth of books! That's CRAZY" he screamed over and over. I'm surprised he still had a voice the next day. Three raffle girls circulated, selling tickets. Ki-Ki stuck by the snowflake wall, dedicated in her role as "snowflake handler"--wearing white gloves, she showed people the backs of snowflakes. Linda, Anna, and I were snowflake handlers, too. In total, we think between 200 and 500 people came throughout the night, some coming from as far away as Chicago, Vermont, New York, and Virginia.

For me, the best story of the night was this 12-year-old boy, Chad. He came with his mother all the way from Virginia specifically for this event. Chad lost his father to cancer when he was 8-years-old. He found out about the auction last year, and bid on and won one of the snowflakes. This year, the artist whose snowflake he won, Marion Eldridge, dedicated her snowflake to him and even featured him on the flake. Chad also won the silent auction for illustrator Katie Davis's snowflake. And when a raffle winner won for the second time that night and graciously gave up her second prize, the raffle ticket she drew was Chad's. So fitting.

The auction is about to begin. There will be 5 consecutive 8-day E-bay auctions with the first one starting today, November 6 at 5 pm PST, 8 pm EST. The last auction ends on December 11. So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go to and look at these wonderful pieces of art. Even if you're not a children's book fan, I think you'll appreciate the works of art that each snowflake is. And please bid on your favorite snowflake.

Because at the root of this all is Robert. He's doing well, in good spirits, but the cancer is still there, and the money we raise may very well help cure him. I was Grace's roommate when she met Robert. I was there during their somewhat tumultuous courtship while Grace waited patiently for him to make up his mind (sorry, Robert, but you know it's true!), I was there on their beautiful wedding day that flooded rain. They deserve a lifetime together, a long future together, a cancer-free life. You never know what it is that will tip the scales, find the cure. So please help me spread the word about this auction.

November 06, 2005

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