My wife and I have two young children, which means we are abundantly affluent in all things Pixar and Dreamworks. We have seen (or heard in the car) Shrek, Over the Hedge, and The Incredibles so often that I dream about them sometimes.
Some we like more than others. Madagascar 3 is the funniest film I’ve seen since Anchorman, and I misted a little at the end of Wreck-It Ralph. But, by far, my absolute favorite animated film of the last twenty-five years is Finding Nemo. It’s the one kids-movie that I stop to watch every time it’s on…even if our children are asleep.
My friend looked at me like I had two lazy eyes and a meth problem, but I was dead serious. For those who haven’t seen it or may have forgotten it, I’ll give you a brief synopsis:
Marlin, a clown-fish, has just crossed the ocean in a desperate search to save his son, Nemo, who was “caught” by P. Sherman, a dentist from Australia who is going to give the little guy to his psychotic fish-killing niece, Darla, as a birthday gift. The whole ocean learns of the story by word-of-mouth, and they’re really pulling for Marlin to succeed.
In what looks like the scene where the journey may finally reach its climax, Marlin sees his baby motionless. The most important piece of his entire life is dead. Marlin is devastated. He thinks that his entire journey has been in vain, and he starts the long journey back…despondent, feeling like a failure.
When all hope seemed extinguished, Marlin realizes that his baby is actually alive, but the respite is brief as an even greater challenge than a sugar-addled little girl envelopes his world. Their only way to survive: keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
And that is how we live with our organization, the Half Fund. When we first started our journey three years ago, we had a mission to change the world. We would raise funds to make a film that would make millions of dollars that we would share with the American Cancer Society and other mass-media artists who wanted to educate the world about cancer and its effects on people.
How hard could it be?
As it turns out, it’s really hard. Well, let me rephrase that. The idea is not hard. In fact, it’s organic. It’s ingrained in us to make the world a better place by educating about a topic of which we are intimately familiar. The hard part is getting in front of people to make the funding possible.
So what is one to do until that magic moment when people throw money at you freely and openly? You live your mission in any way you can.
One of the primary ways we do this is by blogging…a lot. Our website was designed by the team of Wayne Elsey, a man dedicated to making the world a better place in ways he is intimately familiar with. He encouraged us to get our story and our message to the masses, even if it was just to a few people at a time. Because in time, those few people turn into more people, and before you know it the whole ocean is pulling for you.
Yet goodwill does not necessarily mean good funding, and at times, it does become discouraging. And yes, sometimes I have wondered if we are making this journey in vain.
But then someone reaches out to us, saying “Thank you so much for your message. My step-dad just got diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic,” or “I was feeling down, and your words really helped to pick me up,” or “Thank you for the tip on eating bananas during chemo, and you’re right…they are the only food on earth that tastes the same coming back up as it did going down.”
And this is why we do what we do. We started the Half Fund to help make cancer more bearable for the people that heard our message. Our eventual goal is to share this message with millions by way of the silver screen. But until we get there, our goal is to tell hundreds via our blog. While the degree of success is different, the mission remains the same.
Like Nemo…we just keep swimming.