She recently took a job in Pueblo. And for the first time since I’ve met her, she is no longer raising money for incurable/hard to cure diseases. She was recently offered a position as the Executive Director at Pueblo Community College Foundation and leapt at the chance to get away from so much death, so much pain, so much loss.
I first met Martha in 1999. I wanted to find a Prince video for 1999….but wow…major copyright protection. Anyhow, at that time she was running the local chapter of the ALS Association; and, I’d recently launched my independent research lab focused on ALS. Kismet. I still remember coercing my lab staff and colleagues to join me in her walk to D’Feet ALS (yes, I was bleaching blond).
I started out as her token local ALS researcher who would meet with families, let them tour a research lab and meet a scientist who was willing to take the time to share advances in the field, even if it would never be soon enough for them.
Through the years, I followed Martha from one health care related non-profit to another: ALS, Limb Preservation, Dani’s Foundation. I even put her on the “I support” page I maintain on my website. Some people have causes. I simply follow Martha, everywhere. Generally I’ve served on her scientific advisory board, and almost always on her strategic planning groups. And yes, I been known to host a table, buy a trip at silent auction, and sign up for those 3 year commitments, because it’s Martha.
At every organization I’ve heard her described by sponsors, donors, board members as “tireless”, as a “force of nature.” I’ve seen her family (biological, married in) and friends follow her as I have, donating time, items for auction, their networks, their support, their homes and garages and warehouse for all of her swag and displays and shared equipment for loan – basically anything, everything to support her latest endeavor.
At every organization, (she was at March of Dimes before I met her), she warns, that at some point the death and loss of “this group” will get to her and she will need to make a change. Honestly I’ve never known how she could hold up under all of the grief, from not being able to help every patient, every family. I suspect she’s attended more funerals in a year, than I’ve been to in my entire life. And whether it was money for research or simply a gas card so family could afford to get to an otherwise covered medical treatment, she was always striving to do more.
As I followed her from organization to organization, I learned her process of adding events, adding social media, connecting with key supporters, researchers, thought leaders and growing organizations from local, to regional to national and beyond.
I don’t know that I can follow Martha to Pueblo – it’s a hike from Denver, but if you are proximate and looking for a cause or a force of nature to get behind, she’s a good one. I miss you Magnificent M!