The application process began with an explosion of emails, phone calls, mass mailings and web searches. Click, print, stuff, stamp, repeat. Time passed at a frenzied pace until we literally ran out of people to ask.
The first week was encouraging. We heard from Green Mountain Coffee, Stampin' Up, Walt Disney World, John Travolta and The Pittsburgh Pirates! We were more excited to see the mail carrier than our beloved Chihuahua.
My husband and I found a new respect for the celebrities and businesses that surprised us with more than one item or autograph. Many sent personal notes thanking us for taking the time to ask and for volunteering our time and effort to a cause they considered worthy. Everyone from Johnny Depp to Bob Newhart to Tony Hawk has been kind and generous.
It's been a stressful blessing. The hours involved have been overwhelming, the 'no' answers hurt worse than we expected, and the feedback has been less than warm in some instances.
Then we would get an autographed Alabama football from Nick Saban and the tears would dry quickly.
We have ski trips, golf packages, tickets to theme parks, sporting events and Broadway plays, restaurant vouchers and movie passes.
Auction items have taken over two rooms in our home. Apart from the fact that we look like hoarders, I couldn't be happier.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the preparation, hard work, confusion and methodology to this madness. The highlighters are all dry and the pens have long since run out of ink. Our charts are numbered, coded and printed in triplicate as we sit down to take a breath.
"We are going to be a part of changing the world," my husband said, "for the better."
The pause is a brief yet calming thought that someone who will never know our names will be better off a year from now because of these charts, stamps and letters surrounding me. Before the ink is dried on the final envelope and before I have time to take the next breath, I ask, "What's our next fundraiser?"