Those of you who have heard of Dan Pallotta know why I really admire him. I know I had never heard of the man. But back in the late 1990s or early 2000s I heard of two events that changed my life. One was the 3 day Breast Cancer walks - you walked 20 miles a day for 3 days in a row. This event did so many things for me. I had never asked anyone for anything but I had to raise about $2400 in order to participate in the event. How on earth was I going to do that? At that time I actually thought that would be harder than doing the walk. But I wanted to do this endurance event with so many other women (and fortunately some men too). So I buckled down and asked and guess what? I raised over $4000! I was flabbergasted and ever so happy. At the same time I was training to do this walk. The walk was so emotionally charged because of the cause and because of everything we had all gone through to get to that start line...and then even moreso the courage and hope it took to make it 60 miles more to get to the end - that end was the start of another phase of life - a phase of life knowing that I could do something else that I never thought I could do. We were all in it together and we felt it. Our camps were glorious and we did have really nice amenities - something we all appreciated after 10 hours of walking in the DC heat. Mr. Pallotta changed my life because he had the courage and determination to create this event - it was a first!
Then he developed the AIDS Rides and I was fortunate enough to participate in that as well. It was a three day long distance bicycle ride raising money for AIDS. I knew I had to be a part of that because only because of the grace of God had I been spared from exposure. I was an ER doctor long before AIDS became an entity. We didn't use universal blood and body fluid precautions. We didn't use gloves except for sterile procedures. I was exposed to other people's blood and saliva day after day several times each day. But I was so blessed that I was not exposed - the closest I came was giving mouth to mouth to a woman with Hepatitis B (but again I was blessed by the advent of the vaccine and its availability to me in the hospital). So AIDS was something I was very passionate about and wanted to help people in whatever way I could. Plus, I loved bicycle riding. My great friend, Ryan, and I took off on this ride (we had chronicled our training as we went along) and had the most wonderful 3 days we'd ever had! Another first for me and by this time raising money had become so much easier.
I owe Mr. Pallotta so much for coming up with and monetizing these tremendous ideas for such important causes. His creativity and ability to take action and put his passions into massive action changed my life. I was finally able to do things I never thought I could - I was on my way (and still am) to realizing that there really is nothing we can't accomplish. At the same time I was helping so many other people by pursuing something I loved (either walking or bicycling). I was given these multiple opportunities because one man had a dream.
But you know what. He got screwed. Sorry to be blunt but he did. Some folks complained about the amenities he offered and how that money should have gone to the charities etc. Enough of a ruckus was made that he was completely pushed out and forced out of the arena and treated like a black sheep almost as quickly as an avalanche makes it down the mountain. I felt so badly for this gentleman who had really started to change the world. He had brought significant attention (in an organized manner) to such important topics as breast cancer and AIDS. And then people dumped him.
I'm sure he was devastated. I know I was. I was angry too that other organizations came in and took over his concept, thinking they could do a better job of it (not true at all). That was stealing his ideas and even though they were still helping the causes, it just didn't seem fair. But Mr. Pallotta was forced to withdraw from sight.
I didn't hear any more for several years. Then I saw that his resiliency had come through and he had studied and written about how non-profit organizations really go about things the wrong way and how important it is for them to spend money on advertising and taking care of participants! He then published a book, Uncharitable, which addressed this! Then I noticed that he continued to write routinely for Harvard Business Review. He never backed down and I respect him so much for this. Considering that creating a non-profit organization is still an important point in my life, you can imagine why I'm very interested in continuing to follow him.
But what matters to me is that he's so determined and dedicated. He did NOT let adversity get him down at all. He continued to persevere and stand up for what he believes in. That's what we all should do. We should NOT roll with the political tide or "give in".
Mr. Pallotta was just recently a TED speaker and that's a very high honor. He's much more intellectual than I am and this talk demonstrates that. I just know in my heart that he did the right thing for myself and so many others and people booted him for it. I, myself, would follow pretty much anything he does because of his stick-to-it-ness.