Tonight I was working a little late on the upcoming issue of KnitchMagazine. I'm always slammed when we get to deadline. Rather than cook when I got home, Alex thought we ought to have something from Steak 'n Shake -- the place I crave most when I need a good, strong dose of grease and sugar.
As I waited in the car for my hideously fattening meal, I saw a couple of billboards with quotes by Roger Ebert. He, too, is a fan of Steak 'n Shake. His quotes indicated that it was the first restaurant he ever visited -- when he was just 3 -- and he still loves it to this day.
So my mind turned to thoughts of Roger Ebert.
If you've ever met Roger, you know what a sincerely wonderful human being he is. If you've seen him recently, you know how bravely he's fighting cancer.
I met Roger many years ago when I worked for CompuServe, the company that introduced online communications to the world. Roger hosted a forum there, and whenever I could, I'd mention his area in our ads and other materials. He was always so happy to participate by giving me a quote or a photo or whatever I needed.
When Alex joined CompuServe, he ended up managing all those wonderful entertainment forums, and he got to work quite a bit with Roger. He'd meet with him at trade shows, and work with him on promotions for his forum. He really liked Roger, too.
Fast forward a few years. I was working at an insurance company in Columbus, Ohio. One of our staff was suffering from breast cancer and wanted to have treatment the insurance company refused to cover. We were trying to raise money so Linda could have the surgery she hoped would save her life. I'd just finished producing the corporate video and was about to present it to the company when it hit me: we could ask for donations! Anyone who wanted to attend our new video presentation could be given free popcorn and admission in exchange for a donation toward Linda's cancer treatment.
Alex told Roger what we were doing and -- you aren't going to believe this -- Roger agreed to leave a voice mail message for EVERY member of our staff asking them to see our video. Imagine their shock when they arrived in the office one morning, and there on their voice mail was a message from Roger Ebert encouraging them to make a donation to see the video, and giving it his thumbs up.
He didn't know Linda. He barely knew me! But he was kind enough to take some time to help raise money for a lady he'd never met.
Today Roger is battling cancer himself. He's doing it bravely. And he's doing it with tremendous optimism and an appreciation for life. Oh, that we could all be so grateful for every day we have!
I'll bet that every one of us has at some point appreciated one of Roger's movie reviews. But we never did anything to say, "Thank you!"
I'm going to send a letter to the only address I can find for Roger Ebert: firstname.lastname@example.org
And all it's going to say is, "Thank you!"
I hope you'll do the same.
Photo borrowed with many thanks from Jim Emerson's Scanners Blog