Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,
Since my last note in February, I hope you have been well and able to live your life to the fullest of your expectations. It’s been a year of personal and professional growth for me, and I wanted to check in with you.
I am dedicating my life to making a difference in the lives of others. More than that, by writing to you, I’m holding myself accountable. I’ve put a lot of my energy into the letter below which should take about 10 minutes to read. It’d mean a lot to me if you completed it.
But if you only have thirty seconds and are on the run, the too long, didn’t read version is:
On October 23rd, I’m launching a new company and inviting the world to #DrinkDifferent in order to eliminate pollution from single use plastic water bottles. Follow along at www.findtap.com or @findtap on Instagram.
I’m fundraising for Gift of Life’s annual campaign and it would mean the world to me to have your support. Gift of Life saves lives by connecting people suffering from blood cancers with their life saving stem cell donor:
My First Mission - Clean Water for All
I grew up on a lake in northern New Jersey, where I learned to swim, fish, and play ice hockey. True story — my dad had to persuade my mom to move into our childhood home over her fears that her kids were going to drown in the lake.
Instead of sinking, we all became great swimmers, like our Dad and unlike mom (who technically didn’t meet the requirements to graduate high school because her friend Sally coaxed her into skipping out on the required swimming class). I fell in love with the outdoors because it was right at my doorstep. Nature gave me the freedom to be creative, independent, the peace and quiet to think, learn, and explore on my own. Catching frogs, skipping stones, ice skating— these were some of my favorite things as a child. We would wade into the lake, play by its edges, or wait each winter for the local Homeowners Association to raise a flag that the lake ice was thick enough to skate.
One day, that all changed. The lake—man made around the turn of the century—was part of a larger watershed system that was looked at increasingly for more industrial uses in the 1980s and early 1990s. What started as the occasional green film on the edges of the lake suddenly developed into full blown algae blooms. Standing on our dock, you could see a green field.
Between the runoff of lawn fertilizer, the occasional leeching of septic systems, and activities in the larger ecosystem including use by a local rock quarry and even attempts at utilizing old mine shafts to generate hydroelectric power, the lake that had been consistent for the better part of a century changed almost overnight. For several seasons it was just a dead body of water – no fish, no swimming. My dad wouldn’t let us go anywhere near it, let alone swim in it. There were some reactionary attempts to make things better – a full dredging, injection of alum — but the way we use water and treat the environment had changed drastically since the late 1800s/early 1900s when the lake was originally formed. We took the lake for granted.
Although I moved away, I heard word from friends still there that the lake didn’t freeze over as often as it used to — and for anyone who has ever skated on an open pond or lake, there’s nothing like it.
I remembered the occasional winter from my childhood where they didn’t raise the flag, or only had a limited “safe skating” area by the shallowest part of the lake. I witnessed climate change unfold in front of my eyes as a kid and a teenager — I just didn’t have the right vocabulary yet. But now that everyone knows the words, there is no excuse.
I’ve been on a spiritual path and want to be open with you about my feelings — I have two little nephews and I’m scared of the world they may grow up to see. The statistics are alarming: current models say runaway climate change is as little as 2 years away — disturbingly in synch with a 1970s era MIT computer model predicting the collapse of most civilizations by 2040 as a result of critical changes in 2020.
Our overuse of plastic is part of the problem. With current plastic usage rates there will be as much plastic in the ocean by weight as fish by 2050… While plastics have great uses, they gained ubiquity when the fossil fuels they are made from seemed limitless, and before we knew the full drawbacks of overusing them. We are addicted to wasting plastic, and we need to stop.
The ominous foreboding is real. Unless we choose to do something different…
The Time is Now
Gandhi said, “The change we wish to see in this world will only come if we choose to take the first step.” Michael Jackson sang, “If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a CHANGE” (with a few emphatic “woos!”).
So if you’ve looked in the mirror and want to help make the change, I have some good news. The war against plastic has begun. We’re enlisting an army, and it’s easy to join us — all you have to do is carry your own drinkware and download our software (see what I did there).
Together we can change the course of mankind if we choose to believe in something bigger than ourselves.
Tune in to @findtap on Instagram on October 23rd to learn more. Here’s a hint — It’s as simple as carrying a cup and your smartphone. There’s finally an app for thirst, and for the first time in human history, we’re going to show the world how to #DrinkDifferent.
My Second Mission — Help Us Get Everyone Cured.
Since I was in college, I’ve been involved with Gift of Life. (If you’re interested in my personal journey, you can read it here.
Gift of Life Started over 25 years ago when Jay Feinberg was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Miraculously, on the very last drive, the very last donor was Jay’s match.
At the time, due to his Ashkenazi heritage, Jay’s chances for finding a match were less than 5%. Due to the mission based work of one organization — Gift of Life — the chances today for a person of Jewish descent finding a match is over 75%
But Jay didn’t stop there. Knowing that other minority communities would face the same issues due to their own genetic profiles, he and his team started out reach to other minority communities, like the Latinx American community, and created divisions within Gift of Life to help those communities, called Regalo de Vida.
The future of our fight against cancer isn’t with toxic chemicals and poisons but with technology and new forms of immunotherapy. Gift of Life is leading the field in technological breakthroughs for stem cell matching —which accounts for over 80% of our donor / patient matches and is a surgery free process for donors. The days of scary tales of bone marrow transplants are numbered.
As more people find out about Gift of Life and share our message, the more lives we are saving.
Cancer affects all of us and one of those people was Kim Kardashian West. One of Kim’s children was in the class of Adam Krief, may his memory serve as a blessing, who was a very active young man in the Los Angeles community with a wife and four beautiful children. Kim shared Adam’s story on twitter, that then got picked up by news organizations, and that one tweet about Gift of Life and the search for Adam’s donor led to the largest recruiting drive in our history, leading to 8,500 donor registrations and 2 life-saving transplants. With one tweet, Kim saved lives.
I was deeply honored almost 2 years ago when I was asked to join the board of directors of Gift of Life. I believe it was my calling to help share Gift of Life’s message and also garner financial support to help continue their life saving work.
Gift of Life has a H.U.G.E. mission: Help Us Get Everyone Registered and Cured. Joining the Gift of Life registry (and globally via World Marrow Donor Association) is easy and can be done with a quick swab of the cheek. Over 80% of transplants are done with a painless stem cell donation which looks and feels painless like donating blood. Please watch this 5 minute video to learn more -- I promise you'll be inspired.
This is the only charity for whom I have personally solicited donations for the past ~10 years years — I'm deeply connected to this mission. Last year, I was humbled by your support of me with over $16,000 in donations, beating by more-than-half my goal of $10,000. A few outliers aside, the average donation amount was around $120. That amount sponsors two swab kits, putting another two donors on the rolls of the registry that saves lives.
I’d like to ask your help again this year in donating for the cause. Each $60 of your donation processes one cheek swab and places another name on the registry that is a last hope for so many. And you get some transparency back into why that hope is justified -- you'll be able to track the results of our work via a Donor Circle that sends you updates when matches are made from the kits that we sponsored.
Your 100% tax deductible financial contribution would mean the world to me and can be made here: https://www.giftoflife.org/cn/SIRGOL2018
Thank you for reading and I’m excited to share again on October 23, 2018.