This I Believe

Erin - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the goodness of people.

In today’s world, it is difficult to escape hearing news of some unspeakable tragedy perpetrated on innocent people by their fellow man. The people of this world are under siege; they face terrorism, war, disease, hunger, and hatred every day. When faced with the countless news stories each day of murders, shootings, rape, and robbery, it is easy for us to despair, to lose hope that there is any goodness left in the world at all.

But I have seen the goodness of the world. I have seen it in the helping hand of a small boy as he helps his grandmother across the street. I have seen it in the eyes of the student who stops to help a younger boy pick up his dropped books. I have seen it in the warm embrace shared by two old friends. But nothing compares to the goodness I saw in my friends and in my community on the night we met Brady.

Quarters for Cancer, a fundraising effort sponsored by a few of the many service clubs at my school, raises money for childhood cancer research. My friends and I met at a football game on one windy October night to raise money for the effort. We stood, our buckets in hand, at the gate to the football stadium that night, the temperature freezing, at most. Soon, the gates opened, and the people, resplendent in coats and scarves of maroon and gold, rushed in. The freezing weather did nothing to chill the warmth in the hearts of the community that night; it astonished me how willing my friends and my neighbors were to help the cause.

By the time the sun set that night, we had raised thousands of dollars for so many children suffering with cancer. As I was getting ready to leave the game, a woman, leading a small boy by the hand, stopped me. The boy had a balloon in one hand and a toy football in the other.

“I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done tonight,” she said to me, a tear falling down her cheek. “This is my son, Brady. He wanted to thank you, too.”

I looked down at the boy, and his whole face lit up with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, to this day. He smiled with all the joy in the world.

“Thank you,” he said.

I soon realized that Brady had cancer, and the fundraiser was in his benefit. It was at the same time that I realized how wonderful we are, as human beings. We have the good fortune every day to hear of tragedies in our world that we can fix. Even if, as the countless news stories we hear lead us to believe, we cannot change the world by ourselves, we can do something—just a little something—to change the world for someone. I am so thankful for the opportunity God gave me to be at that football game on that night in October. I changed the world for Brady, and Brady changed the world for me, all because of the goodness of people. This I believe.