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It Took More Than a Village

By Michael and Andrew Grimes

It was somewhat ironic on Sunday at Fenway Park that every seat in the stadium was empty, while below the bleacher section in the cavernous concourse area, it was standing room only, packed with supporters of our brother Dan who is battling stage four lung cancer, despite never having smoked, at the #SaveDan fundraiser hosted by CareOne and HealthBridge.

The irony was that you could have filled every seat at Fenway Park with someone who contributed their time and money towards raising $1.3 million for the CareOne Cancer Fund in Honor of Dan Grimes, Inc.  A Walkathon and numerous raffles and sold bracelets netted more than $5,000 by HealthBridge employees at the Concord, MA long-term care facility. At the company’s facility in Greater Pittsburgh, sales of cookbooks brought in another $1,000. The list goes on and on with car washes, 50/50 raffles, road races, bake sales, cookouts and golf tournaments organized by CareOne and HealthBridge centers across Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Jersey.

Many of those who gave so generously of their time and money have never met Dan, or either of us, even though we all work for the same company. This is what it took to build a fund that will help people like Dan and his family, who have found out the hard way what happens to a family when it is suddenly battling a life-threatening illness. All of their resources, physical and emotional, are spent. All of their financial resources, once sufficient to make the household run, are no longer enough. Medical bills, adequately covered by health insurance in normal times, become staggering.

We have the good fortune to work at a company that understands the true cost of healthcare and which has built a company culture where people pull together when it matters. Dan is part of that culture. He responded after Hurricane Sandy by travelling to New Jersey to step in for administrators who were directly affected by the coastal hurricane. Last December he said goodbye to his wife and four young children during Christmas week and drove to New Jersey, where he brought toys and holiday cheer to children with cancer – this before he learned of his own diagnosis not four months later.

What struck us on Sunday as celebrity artists like Ne-Yo and Natasha Bedingfield rocked the fundraiser on the Fenway Concourse, is that every empty seat in the vast stadium could be filled over and over with people who are also fighting for their lives, battling a diagnosis that threatens not only their lives, but the very foundation of their family’s lives as well. It was a sobering thought, but one that continues to make us appreciate the fellowship of friends and family, colleagues and complete strangers, and a company that is in the business of healthcare but, more importantly, understands that it isn’t just about patients. It’s about people.

The CareOne Cancer Fund in Honor of Dan Grimes, Inc. carries our brother’s name, but it also carries the hopes of those who will come next and we are humbled by the generosity of spirit that guides our cause. We are grateful to the Straus Family, especially Daniel E. Straus and Elizabeth Straus, who lead CareOne Management and who are the driving force behind the fund. Dan is a big man, both physically and emotionally, and will continue to fight his personal battle knowing he has literally thousands of people pulling for him. He remains hopeful that he will be that guy who beat some tough odds so he can resume a normal family life and eventually meet everyone who contributed to a cause that will also help those whose battle still lies ahead of them.

We can only say thank you.

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