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Ken’s Blog: Goose-bump warning

Once again, the spirit of life itself makes an appearance in the hardware industry.

BY Ken Clark

There were goose bumps. There were lumps in throats. There were tears and there were efforts to hold tears back. And there was some laughter. And a lot of hope.

In other words, it was the annual gathering of the hardware and homebuilding industry to celebrate the work of the Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope cancer research hospital. It all took place in Las Vegas on the eve of the International Builders’ Show. This year’s Spirit of Life honoree and fundraising leader was Giles Bowman, The Home Depot’s senior VP — merchandising, building materials.

And he rose to the occasion.

There was a silence in the room when Bowman reported the grim statistics — 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.  And lumps formed in throats when he put a human face on the cold numbers.

“My mother passed away eight years ago today from ovarian cancer,” he told the audience of industry leaders. “And I know everyone in this room has family members who are either battling cancer today or have battled cancer.

“City of Hope’s mission statement has four sentences and the most powerful is the shortest: ‘We turn hope into reality.’” he added. “I want us to look back at 2019 and say we made a difference.”

Bowman, second from left, with a big check.

Message received. There were some goose bumps when Bowman, on behalf of the hardware and homebuilding industry, handed over an oversized novelty check written out to the City of Hope to the tune of three million one hundred thousand dollars.

Some of the inspiration served that night was priceless. Jaylon Fong, an 18-year-old-year-old high school baseball player from West Covina, Calif.,­ shared his story and his courage.

“In the beginning I didn’t really understand what leukemia was,” said Fong. “My mom and dad cried for me. But we believed the doctors and nurses at City of Hope would make me better.”

And so they did. And the two-time cancer survivor is back on the mound.

“Playing baseball is a lot like battling cancer,” Fong said. “You have to take it one pitch at a time. One dose at a time.”

Thanks for the goose bumps, Jaylon. And thanks for the hope.

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