As My Love buckled herself into the passenger seat at about 4 o’clock last Tuesday afternoon, I told her to relax.
Only eight hours left, I said. The die has been cast; the Rubicon crossed; James Brown has excused himself to do the boogaloo.
We had bought tickets to the U.S. Open tennis matches months before our lives had turned upside down. She should enjoy the night out.
“The electrician showed up this morning,” I said. “He put a new cover on the thermostat to replace the one he lost while relocating it four months ago.”
“You mean …”
“Yes. Our master bathroom renovation is finally complete.”
“Oh, good,” My Love said. Then she disappeared, lost in her iPhone on yet another call to rally the troops.
That’s how August went for us.
Me, interrupting strangers – online, at a conference in Manhattan, on a ferry dock in North Carolina, at an amusement park in Westchester County, N.Y. – begging for votes to win the nonprofit organization funding research into a cure for our daughter’s juvenile myositis a $250,000 grant.
My Love, ear attached to her phone while simultaneously working her laptop, trying to build, hold together or simply calm down voting coalitions of other worthy children’s causes all vying for free money.
Yet I hate sales. And she hates Survivor.
The reception on My Love’s iPhone was very spotty in and around Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens on August 31, the last day of voting. When it was working, though, she managed a couple of calls or e-mails to convince people to head to bars to solicit votes or to leave requests for votes at online prayer message boards.
Just before 10 p.m., someone squeaked an e-mail through to us. Cure JM had just dropped out of the money. Again.
“Give me your phone,” I said. “I need to send out a message.”
I punched this into Twitter:
“RED ALERT ... Back down at 3. Please help!”
Then I left, in the middle of Rafael Nadal’s first-round match, to hit up people at the concession stands one last time for text votes. In short, the Ben & Jerry’s line was very, very good to Cure JM.
The next update we managed to get came through about 11:35 p.m. We were about halfway back to our house, slicing through the parkway darkness, the Things asleep in the middle row.
“Do you want to know?” My Love asked.
“Only if it’s good,” I said. “I’m too tired for bad news.”
This is where she should have paused for dramatic effect.
Instead, she calmly said: “Cure JM is No. 1.”
About 10 miles later, we realized we had driven well past our exit.
* * *
It’s been a week since then. Yesterday was the first day that neither My Love nor I felt the need for a midday nap or a triple espresso. We lived on adrenaline and pipe dreams those final 72 hours until the clock struck midnight, ushering in September. The next 72 hours we were walking zombies.
Happy, grateful zombies but zombies nonetheless.
We have a few more weeks to wait for Pepsi to verify that Cure JM is a real organization with a real plan before it gets the $250,000.
That’s the quick and easy part.
Thanking all the people who helped it happen … that may take a while. But I’ll give it a shot:
To every one of you who like blogged about our effort even though it cost you comments and traffic;
To every one of you who linked to the Cure JM Pepsi Refresh page or one of my posts on Facebook;
To every one of you who Tweeted and re-Tweeted, especially in those last frantic hours, in particular those of you who never before knew of me or juvenile myositis but simply carried our flag into battle because you believe every kid deserves a chance to be healthy;
To every one of you who on our behalf spammed their address books or their school PTA’s e-mail list or may have “borrowed” a stranger’s cell phone (or tried all the demos at the Apple Store) to send a text vote;
To every one of you who didn’t tell me to bugger off and put up with me and my voting cards, handbills, e-mails, postings and in-person pleadings;
To every one of you who took matters into your own hands, such as Jett who figured the blogosphere was well covered those last few days so she petitioned the members of her church for votes or my brother-in-law who spent the final hours of the contest getting every Mafia Wars player on Facebook he could to stop performing virtual crimes and start helping sick kids;
To all the security officers and the vendors at Arthur Ashe Stadium, especially the two who sold me that last Heineken then tried to get me to take back my tip (I didn’t) after they text voted for us;
To the woman I meet outside the log flume ride at Playland Amusement Park who took a voting card and said she’d get her entire office to vote for us;
To the guy waiting for the ferry at Hatteras dock in North Carolina who convinced his friend, who kept trying to give me $5 to leave him alone, that all he needed to do was send “a f****ing text, dude! You know how to text!”;
To the ferry workers who jumped our car battery after it died from running the A/C, the Things’ Nintendos and the radio while My Love and I handed out cards and fliers on the docks; and finally,
To every single one of you who put up with the quirks and frustration of the online voting system or learned to text, even if it was just to give us a single vote:
Cure JM, my family and every family touched by juvenile myositis thanks you.
Now, somebody -- cue the horn section.
Video: “I Thank You,” Sam & Dave