Significance vs. and Success
In the last month or so a friend of mine and I were discussing the importance of significance versus success as it relates to us on a personal level. On the surface, and in today’s society, this may appear to have been more about material things and stuff, but it wasn’t. It was more about meaning and impact. What have we done in our lives that could be considered successful and does it make us significant?
Our individual viewpoints on this topic diverged greatly but have since spawned some meaningful dialogue. The basis for my position, and why I struck through the word vs. in the title, rests with Jacob’s Ladder. Significance and success doesn’t mean that we all have to be the Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffetts of the world (although from a charitable perspective, it wouldn’t hurt). Significance and success is not solely measured in numbers or dollars and cents. It can mean so much more than that.
The first Jacob’s Ladder event raised $10,000 and was hosted in a small local Starbucks coffee shop. In our minds, this was a significant success. It launched us as a charity and provided the groundwork for what we were to become. For Jacob’s Ladder, it has never been just about the money. Don’t get me wrong, raising about $3,000,000 in 18 years is a big deal, but I have seen charities raise almost that same amount in one night. No, Jacob’s Ladder has been about more than dollars and cents, it has been about being a lever for community engagement and inspiring medical research.
To this date, Jacob’s Ladder continues to inspire growth in medical research and attention to pressing issues within the special needs community. The Jacob’s Ladder Norman Saunders International Research prize is a sought after award attracting some of the world’s leading scientists to share their findings with the staff at Sick Kids Hospital. As well, Ellen continues to be involved in advancing initiatives around access to resources for complex care children and after 21 programming for special needs young adults. Demonstrable results and goals are one thing, but the intangible reaction was something we didn’t expect. A year doesn’t go by without a high school or university student approaching us for an interview on a project or presentation they are doing. In almost all instances the motivation for their topic came from a Jacob’s Ladder event they attended or volunteered at as a child.
What Jacob’s Ladder is, and what it has become is directly as a result of the overwhelming support and engagement we have received from our community. The achievements to this point are significant well beyond our borders, and the effects of which will be felt for generations to come.
Ellen and I are grateful for the support our donors and our community continue to provide. Their contributions are the basis of the success we have achieved and the significance of Jacob’s Ladder.
Thank you for your continued support.
Jeff Schwartz (and Ellen)