By Grant Logsdon
When I was nine years old, I wanted to volunteer to give back to my community. I discussed with family where I could give back and we decided on The Crusade for Children. For those who don’t know, The Crusade for Children is a local charity developed in 1954 by WHAS TV. They join with various local fire departments and raise money on the weekends to donate to local agencies, schools and hospitals to benefit children with special needs. Firemen and other volunteers set up on road blocks in different parts of Kentuckiana and collect money in big buckets and boots.
At first, my mother had a very difficult time trying to find a fire department that would let me help. Most departments said they would allow me to come check out the fire trucks and talk to the guys. It became very evident that people didn’t understand my disability and were fearful about my safety. However, I wanted to be more involved. We had a very difficult time trying to find a department that would actually put me to work on the road blocks.
After many tearful calls from my mom to various fire departments, she finally got in touch with Captain Larry Dewald with the Okolona Fire Department. He openly said he didn’t know much about physical disabilities like I had, but was willing to give me a try. My mom explained that I wanted to work, and I would always have a support person to assist whenever needed. He gave me the opportunity to build many long-term relationships with a lot of new people. The firemen took me under their wings, they allowed me to grow as a person and they guided me until I was where I wanted to be, just one of them raising money for kids. I’ve worked with Okolona every year, except one, since I was nine years old.
From this experience, I learned that even when everyone says no, keep going if it’s in your heart to do something. If you are persistent you are bound to run into someone who is willing to say yes, or at least willing to try like Captain Dewald. Without this opportunity, I would have missed out on many different conversations with individuals I probably would have never met. I also learned from the motorists coming by the roadblocks how nice and generous people are. Some would drive by with no money, but offer us water and cokes instead. Even my elders would drive by and offer me their umbrella if it was hot outside. I can’t tell you how many times people have given me things for the department, it was amazing to see such generosity.
The experience guided me to be a more positive individual willing to try anything. The most rewarding thing to me was taking the money that we collected down to the TV station and turning it in, because to me it’s bigger than The Crusade. Yes, we were out there collecting money, but when you give back to your community you learn a lot about yourself and how you’re supposed to treat others. You can learn a lot of valuable lessons in life if you’re out there giving it your best shot.
Until next time, this is how I roll.