Guilt can be an unusual motivator. Everyone feels guilty about things from time to time. Most of us tend to suppress our guilt impulses with the hopes of wearing them down to manageable feelings that can be side-stepped and eventually forgotten. But guilt can also be a call to action. In the words of John Patrick with Harry Norman, Realtors, “Guilt can be a good thing. It will either make you shy away or kick you in the pants and force you to do something.”
John grew up in Thomaston, Georgia, a small town about an hour and a half south of Atlanta. John and his friend, Scott, went to high school and church together and even sang in the same quartet. They each went their own way after graduation; Scott stayed there and John moved to Atlanta to pursue a career in real estate. They stayed in touch, but their paths didn’t cross again until Scott’s son, Bo, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive pediatric brain cancer. His treatment brought Scott and Bo to Atlanta.
John immediately went to the hospital to see if there was anything he could do to help. The offer didn’t pan out and John lost persistence. Over the next few years, they kept up with each other only through social media connections. At the same time, John and his wife Katherine were starting fertility treatments. John found out his wife was expecting about two years later – news that brought him great joy and also bred guilt over how happy he felt while his friend was experiencing such tragedy. That guilt was only compounded by the arrival of his healthy son, Jack, just thirty-three days before Bo lost his battle with cancer. Thinking about how easy it is to let the business of life get in the way, John regretted not being more proactive in helping Scott’s family during such a difficult time. The guilt gnawed at him and threatened the natural joy of new life.
It took some time, but John refused to let the guilt get the best of him. As he watched as his friend mourn and try to keep Bo’s memory alive through fundraising, John decided it wasn’t too late to help. The first thing he did was hold a Movie Morning at a theater for his clients and friends, where they screened a children’s movie and collected new books and DVDs as admission. Those items were donated to the cancer floor of a children’s hospital.
In the meantime, the Story family’s efforts grew and they partnered with CURE to take their Bowen Story Fund to the next level. Since they personally experienced the sobering, financial burdens of traveling 50+ miles each time to the hospital over the course of several years, the goal of the fund was to help families by providing gas cards, lodging, and meals while in treatment.
John sought ways to join his friend in this mission and approached the CEO of Harry Norman, Realtors, who was particularly sympathetic to the cause after losing his nephew to cancer years prior. Together and through committee, Harry Norman, Realtors decided to adopt Bo’s cause as the beneficiary of their next charity event – The 10th Annual Bowl-A-Thon in 2015. By selling sponsorships to vendors, contractors, and business associates, the event raised over $46,000 in Bo’s honor.
The most recent event, 11th Annual Bowl-A-Thon was another huge success raising a little over $60,500. This year, a fellow agent brought her daughter who is fighting childhood cancer to the lanes and everyone there got to see the importance of their labor firsthand.
And what does this mean to Scott?
“I never questioned John as to why he wanted to help,” he said. “As kids, we grew up carefree in a small town. Then, life took the drastic turn with Bo. Just seeing John there meant more than he knows. As Bo battled, even the smallest gestures meant so much. After Bo left for heaven, John stepped up and really did so much for Bo’s fund. The last two years John, and Harry Norman, Realtors, have been a driving force for the fund. John is still constantly brainstorming ideas to help the fund. I want to say that John is a dear friend. A friend with one of the biggest hearts I have ever known and it feels wonderful knowing that the fund has someone like him that we can count on every year.”
“I can’t thank Harry Norman, Realtors for sponsoring Bo’s fund the last two years. Over $100,000 raised in two years is phenomenal. I know that I’ve expressed my thanks to Dan Parmer, John, and all of the employees at various events. But, again, thank you. You each help support families battling childhood cancer and help Bo’s legacy live on by inspiring others to do the same.”