Autoweek; Published: 12/30/1996
On Feb. 1, a personage of the Leukemia Society Michigan Chapter will draw a name out of a hat to award a brand-new Porsche Boxster to someone who has entered its raffle: 1000 tickets at $100 each.
We have a number of raffles advertised in our classified section each year. The Leukemia Society Porsche Boxster Raffle is not one of them. It stands separate and distinct as a personal cause; contributed to by Porsche Cars of North America from the first shipment to the United States, and initiated by me.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with leukemia. It was not one of the happiest moments of my life. In the time that has passed since that grim announcement, I have learned a great deal not only about leukemia but about a variety of attendant matters.
Let me begin with what I have discovered about my friends. Despite the occasional opening into my life through this Jaundiced Eye, I am not the most forthcoming person you know. The current vogue of unburdening oneself about matters small and smaller has always struck me as unseemly. I have never much wanted to know about my neighbor's troubles; I certainly didn't want him knowing about mine.
It wasn't easy to keep things to myself during the early months of my illness; first of all, I couldn't do any work, much less appear in the office, so there were reasons that had to be given, people in whom to confide.
That was my first discovery: If you give them the chance, your friends will be astonishingly protective of your dignity.
In time it became possible for me to rejoin the world. While there is no cure for my leukemia, the Mayo Clinic called my reaction to a drug called Interferon ``spectacular.'' In other words, as I was beginning to understand, I was incredibly lucky. Nobody in the medical world knows quite how or why Interferon works, all they know is that sometimes it stays the disease remarkably. For me, it was magic.
So gradually, first to my professional community, then to the Indycar racing world, I came out of the leukemia closet. As I made personal progress, I began to discover how progress was being made with other leukemias, with other blood diseases, with other cancers. My wife urged me to begin to make an effort, not just to rejoin the world of AutoWeek, but to devote time to trying to make it possible for others with blood cancers to benefit as I had. I agreed to try and raise awareness and money for my local group: the Leukemia Society Michigan Chapter.
My wife was not so lucky as I, and with her death from cancer, I became the more determined to work against the disease.
Which is when I discovered even more about my friends.
As I went about the land asking for help, more people stepped up to my side than I would ever have believed possible. From the magazine world; but way beyond that, from the racing world, from past lives, most particularly from the community of car company colleagues and associates, from Ford to Chevy, from Range Rover to Jaguar, from Toyota to Mercedes-Benz-the outpouring of support was overwhelming.
Which brings me to Porsche, their heartfelt and immediate response of the donation of a new Boxster, and my shamelessness in promoting a raffle to take advantage of it. This is my deal, and no apologies. These are my friends, and bless them. I'd be grateful if you'd step up, and I want to shake the hand of the guy who wins it.
And tell him how much it means that he-with all the others-was there.