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Beacon blog: When giving back is personal

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2013 - The Giving Back section in the St. Louis Beacon contains announcements about fundraising events held by area institutions.

Because we have a small staff and because all the charitable events that go on throughout the year would be impossible to include, we set some limits at the beginning. No trivia nights, no golf tournaments and no “individual” events.

That’s one reason Beacon readers had no advance notice of the spaghetti dinner, silent auction and dance to support the family of Seth Snider as he continues to recover from a serious brain injury.

First, personal disclosure: Seth is the son of my former brother-in-law. That former brother-in-law lives in the Metro East area, and his mother lives near Chester, Ill., where Seth and his twin sister go to school and where I grew up. So Seth isn’t really family, though he sorta is.

In October, Seth and a friend were out riding bicycles and went zooming down a hill, ignoring a stop sign at its base. The friend crossed the County Farm Road just fine. Seth ran into a car.

He was not wearing a helmet.

Of the problems he faced, the most serious was a shear injury to the brain. Ninety percent of people who have this do not awaken, and most of those who do have developmental difficulties.

The good news is that — with help from Cardinal Glennon and Ranken Jordan — Seth has been dubbed a miracle. He has trouble breathing from time to time and has had to have several operations to removed scar tissue from his throat. But he is back in school, in his regular classroom 50 percent of the time. If you saw him walk by, you’d just think, "Now, there’s a nice looking kid."

But in getting from the accident to this point, his mother had to take a lot of time off work and, though the family has decent medical insurance, the price for all Seth’s care is high. It isn't finished, either.

At the American Legion Hall in Chester, Ill., Feb. 2
At the American Legion Hall in Chester, Ill., Feb. 2

What do friends do, whether it’s a big city or a small town? They figure out how to help. And last Saturday night, the American Legion Hall parking lot was overflowing. More than 90 items were on the silent auction (and many of these were created by adding donations together).

I don’t know how much was made, but the bidding was energetic; and the spaghetti was in high demand — tasty, too.

What’s important is to remember that people come together all the time to do good. As Seth’s Grandmother Doris said to me, "We need to hear about more things like this. About people helping each other just because it’s the right thing to do."

So this is for all those fundraisers you hear about from friends and family and see on Facebook. Giving Back will continue to highlight ways to help institutions that are serving the community. It will even let you know when Ranken Jordan, which gave so much help to Seth, is having its Crystal Ball and Kids’ Walk. But those of us who put the items together of Giving Back recognize all the good that is done through shooting matches, polar plunges, spaghetti dinners and chicken feeds to help people who need a hand to get over a bad hand they have to play through.

Donna Korando started work in journalism at SIU’s Daily Egyptian in 1968. In between Carbondale and St. Louis Public Radio, she taught high school in Manitowoc, Wis., and worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the copy editor and letters editor for the editorial page from 1973-77. As an editorial writer from 1977-87, she covered Illinois and city politics, education, agriculture, family issues and sub-Saharan Africa. When she was editor of the Commentary Page from 1987-2003, the page won several awards from the Association of Opinion Page Editors. From 2003-07, she headed the features copy desk.