I just got an e-mail from “Shelly and Ellen,” and although I don’t know who they are, I opened it up and read it. The e-mail is basically a request to vote for their friend, Cathy Speck, who is “in a contest that is coming to a close” and was in second place. They asked me to follow a link in the e-mail and go vote for Cathy.
The e-mail explained that Cathy Speck has terminal ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and if she wins, “they will send Cathy and her wife to DC to lobby for ALS.”
So I followed the link to the Care2.com site, operated by Tom’s of Maine, which is holding the “Hero Next Door” contest. Basically, people from all over have written in to nominate their personal hero, and then they try to get as many people as possible to vote for their hero. The winner gets $2,500 for themselves, and another $2,500 for the charity of their choice.
I read the story about Cathy Speck of Davis, Calif. She lost her mother to ALS when she was 13. Then her brother. Shortly after her brother died, Cathy herself was diagnosed with terminal ALS. Since her diagnosis, she has worked tirelessly to educate people about the disease and to advocate for those who have it. The story says that Cathy’s main concern now is her wife, Linda. Although they have been together 16 years, federal law does not recognize their marriage and so Linda will not be able to get Cathy’s Social Security benefis after Cathy has died. On top of that, Linda has no family to support her through this all.
It’s a touching story, to say the least.
Then I went to find out more about Tom’s of Maine. Here is the Wikipedia entry: “Tom’s of Maine is a maker of natural personal care products such as toothpaste, soap and deodorant. Their products are made without artificial ingredients and without animal testing. While most of their products are vegan, some contain propolis and/or beeswax, which is sourced from bees. Tom’s of Maine was founded by Tom and Kate Chappell in 1970 with just $5,000. The company is based in Kennebunk, Maine [and now] has approximately 150 employees and 90 oral and body care products sold at more than 40,000 retail outlets worldwide. … In 2006, a controlling 84 percent stake in Tom’s of Maine was purchased by Colgate-Palmolive for $100 million. The Chappells kept a 16 percent share in the company. The terms of the purchase stipulate thatTom’s of Maine policies will be retained.”
Well, I had never heard of the Vote for a Hero contest, or Cathy Speck or even Tom’s of Maine. Now I know about all of them. And I encourage you to go to the site and vote, too. Vote for Cathy, or maybe for one of the other heros in the contest. Or maybe nominate your own hero.
Either way, it’s a site worth visiting.