Friday, April 27, 2012

Making a difference - Four extraordinary women and the power of purpose

What's the acronym for 'make a difference'?


That's exactly what scores of people said to Michelle, Nicky, Maureen and Jan when they told people they were going to do the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker event in Melbourne, Australia to raise much needed funds for the important work that Oxfam does around the globe.

At the time of posting this article Team Make a Difference (M.A.D.)  had raised over $11,000 - a remarkable effort in a time when raising money has become very difficult due to challenging economic circumstances for many people.

It is important to recognise differencemakers because they set the example for how 'ordinary' can become 'extraordinary'. In this case I think it is fair to say that our four differencemakers above were already extraordinary before the event, but having finished the walk they are even more extraordinary than ever.

When I talk about extraordinary let's look at some highlights from each of our differencemakers.

Michelle, my wife is the mother of five children ranging from 12 years old to 20 months old. Need I say more!

Nicky is equally as extraordinary being a mother of three young boys ranging from seven through to 23 months old.

Jan is a mother of a five year old and someone who has saved countless wildlife from death in her role as a wildlife volunteer, personally caring for injured and sick wildlife until they recover and are able to be returned to their habitats.

Maureen is the veteran of the group being 60 years old and this year completed her third Oxfam Trailwalker - completing one is an extraordinary effort let alone having now completed three!

What is also wonderful about this story is that Michelle, Jan, Maureen and Nicky are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extra-ordinary people. The sea of support led by Harry Lowe was something to behold.  Each person volunteered one of the greatest gifts that anyone can give another person, cause or both: their time!

In this context I believe that it is important to recognise each person because, quite simply, Team Make a Difference could not have raised their funds nor finished the walk without the support of their team.

I understand that you see lists of names all the time. However I urge you to look at each name and recognise that there is a human being behind that name - a human being that subscribed to a purpose bigger than themselves and in the small and large ways contributed to making a positive difference.

From left: Jan, Nicky, Maureen and Michelle

Team Make a Difference support crew
Harry Lowe, Christine Sellar, Loreto Ryan, Heather Cecil, Mark Cecil, Merrell Harris, Julie Davenport, Liam Ryan, Sienna Ryan, Callum Ryan, Aiden Ryan, Darcy Ryan, Jonathan McKeown, Anthony McKeown, Hugh Mckeown, James McKeown, Karen Lowe, Lehela Manoel, Mark Mattrow, Gemma Mattrow, Evelyn Devitt, Rosey Cullinan, Geri Burns and Mark Burns.

Support crew celebrate finishing the event with the girls!

In addition to these special people recognition must also go to everyone who donated to Oxfam, attended the fundraising event and/or simply spread the word about what was happening.

I have been involved in the Oxfam Trailwalker event before, but this time was extra special. Without a doubt the bigger picture that Team Make a Difference was striving to support was truly engaged by all team members and their support crew. While simple in words the purpose of making a positive difference for the less fortunate in the world through participating in the Oxfam Trailwalker event proved itself to be extaordinarily powerful.

And shared purpose is extremely powerful.

Originally the team had aimed to raise $5,000 but this total was surpassed by a single fundraising event that itself raised $6,300.

Jan, Maureen, Nicky and Michelle thank you for being extraordinary and in being so enabled so many more of us to be extraordinary too.

Donations are still open so please feel free to donate to Oxfam here.

Gary Ryan helps Senior and Developing Leaders achieve high performance through enabling their people to shine.

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