Gary McDonald

Gary McDonald

The seeds of inspiration for me were planted when I was invited to join a book club recently begun by a few other retired teachers. When I learned that Tom Hayes was a 30+ year elementary teacher, I knew already that he was a candidate for sainthood. Later, I learned he had spent time in Houston after hurricane Harvey, on his own dime, mucking out flooded houses.  He’s not the type to brag, so we didn’t dwell on it.

When I learned he’d been diagnosed with leukemia, it confirmed for me my longtime belief that the worst things in life seem to happen to the best people. It was a helpless feeling following his treatment, but Tom’s innate optimism and determination, and the love and support of scores whose lives he’s touched in some way, gave me comfort that he would be all right. His relapse was a blow, but it only revealed Tom’s ability to dig deeper. Not only was he determined to recover, but his plan included raising money for the very organization that was fighting beside him.

Through Tom, I met Don Barbacovi, who had lost his 8-year-old granddaughter Lucy to leukemia in 2020 after a five-year struggle. I thought children weren’t supposed to get sick like this; I also mourn a son.  But, when life confronts us with these existential moments, our character and our determination to make a difference are often the only refuge from the pain. Don, too, along with his wife Joanie, his children and extended family, had determined to fight this scourge, to fill the void with the hope they might give others facing this devastating disease. Together with others similarly inspired, we began to brainstorm how we might leverage each others’ efforts to advance the cause of the High-Risk Leukemia Program at Seattle Children’s. I was asked to contribute. My response was obvious to me . . . “How could I not”.   Soon, FOR A CURE NW was off and running!

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For A Cure NW is recognized under IRC Section 509(a)(2) as a Public Charity. Donors can deduct donations they make to us under IRC Section 170. We are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under sections 2055, 2106 or 2522.