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There is a lot to consider when selecting a college or university. Some more important than others. A great dining hall and fitness center rank pretty high these days, and I totally get that. Others wonder and ask about safety statistics, internship options, and graduation rates.

All valid considerations. Have you wondered how they will support your daughter or son if something life-altering occurs?

When we sent our youngest daughter Liza off to Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, a sleepy but cool town on the eastern shore of Maryland, we knew she’d have a pretty great experience. After all, our oldest daughter, Sydney, loved WC a couple of years before. What we didn’t know was how a community of people would rise-up, step out and care for their students and alumni.

Colleges work hard to build school spirit and nurture their alumni networks to stay in touch and give back. The events and programs are all designed for this, but it’s what happens on the front lines among students, faculty, and coaches that change lives and touch hearts.

You may wonder where I’m going with this post. Yes, it’s a bit off my beaten path but every once in a while I ask for your indulgence. Nine months ago, Liza, had brain surgery at CHOP. And, Liza’s community at Washington College including her field hockey team walked alongside her. They encouraged, laughed, and shed a tear or two with her and mostly, they kept her focused on her future regardless of the outcome.

A community does this. You see it goes well beyond the people you say you know. It demands you go deeper, know them, talk with them.

And, it’s not about one person, it’s about everyone because everyone takes something away, everyone makes a difference. When Rachel Boyle, head coach of the women’s field hockey team at Washington College, suggested a Make A Difference Campaign to raise funds for CHOP’s Cancer Research for the month of October, we see how one person can initiate action and goodness.

Her call was simple: Join the campaign and make a difference for those fighting, and specifically as we honor

Join the campaign and make a difference for those fighting, and specifically as we honor Liza Slavin and Jaimie Martell (current and former WC FH players). Please take a moment to know their stories and support CHOP.

Rachel’s community is large so off her message went through Facebook and the WC website. If you read Liza and Jaimie’s story, you will read about two young women whose lives were changed by a diagnosis and how their community and family carries them gently into their future. These are just two stories, and yes, I also know there are heartbreaking stories where students didn’t feel this support and connection.

Each of us chooses to be a part of a community and what we contribute to that community becomes an exchange. We reap what we sow. And, so I end this post with a nudge to tap into your community, be known and know what your community needs and see how you can contribute. I’m sure you can.

Our continued thanks to everyone at Washington College and CHOP. Our prayers to Jaimie and her family.