This week, I introduced my third-grade students to a famous artist, Paul Klee. I discovered that his later works were darker as he fought with scleroderma, which eventually took his life. This brought back a flood of memories about a disease that I met face to face in Mill Valley, California.
My first encounter with scleroderma came when I met a small giant, Sharon Monsky. I was a young computer programmer living in Mill Valley, California, looking for a job. Sharon promised that if I would set up a database for her donors, she would do her best to find me a full-time job.
In the few weeks it took to get things up and running, it was obvious that Sharon was a champion. Not only did she keep her promise to find me a job, but she used her influence to change the lives of many who today suffer from scleroderma.
During Sharon’s life, she surrounded herself with a support base of famous comedians and actors such as Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, Bob Saget, Dana Carvey, and Dana Delany who helped champion her cause.
In a USA today article featuring Robin Williams (posted 11/8/2002 after Sharon’s death on May 11, 2002), he states that “…Scleroderma is a horrible disease with nothing to recommend it, other than the incredible courage which its victims muster in the face of overwhelming odds and terrible suffering.”
Looking back at Sharon’s life reminded me how important it is that we do what we can to lift others daily. Though only for a moment in time, I got to shake hands with a small giant.
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” Helen Keller
Who are some of the small giants you know?