A generalized truth: most of us have either imagined what we would do or have heard others name a few things they would do if they were the winner of tonight’s lottery, now up to over 640 million dollars. Pay off debt. Buy a house. Give some money to my family. Or friends. Or both. These are the most logical beginnings, and I am no different. Those are the first few things on my list too.
But even the $347 million left after taxes, should the winner choose the cash option of $462 million, leaves a lot of money. Even if you bought the most expensive house around. Even if you bought Oprah’s mansion. And took a string of expensive vacations. And bought an entire new designer wardrobe and got yourself that nice, new “Beamer” (sp? Guess I’m not much of a hipster.) you’ve been eyeing. What would you do with the rest? Even if, say, fifty people had to split it, they’d still each be receiving a phenomenal gift, one that should not be frittered away selfishly, in my opinion.
To the winner of this incredible sum, I offer a few suggestions:
- Most people have a favorite charity. If you don’t, pick one. Or several. If you don’t trust what they will do with donated funds, organize something yourself that will benefit that/those charity/charities. Or hire someone to come up with a plan.
- If, for some unknown reason, you can’t come up with one, ask your loved ones. Or don’t ask anyone. God knows the rest of the world will be watching, tracking your moves, to see what you do with the money.
- Whatever you give to these charities, there are a million and one other causes – and I’m referring specifically now to those that don’t get much attention – that truly need it. Those that certainly don’t get the attention they need and deserve. I will offer some of these now, in case you are undecided.
- National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Organization (NTSAD). Tay-Sachs is a fatal genetic disorder that stops a baby’s development after only a few short months of life, then causes deterioration of their physical and mental abilities, ending in death. Before these babies die, they will lose their ability to swallow, experience seizures, become blind, deaf, and eventually paralyzed. Think about the horror of that for a minute. Then read about it, from someone living through this right now, on her beautiful and heartbreaking blog, Little Seal. Then ask yourself why there isn’t greater awareness of this disorder – which, by the way, can be detected with prenatal genetic testing.
- Child Sex Trafficking. Let me be clear: Children. Forced. Sold. Sex-Slaves. These are not prostitutes. They are children – our children (most children who are trafficked in the US are American) – taken and forced. Why don’t we hear about this more? Because people don’t want to talk about it. But that’s exactly what we need to do – talk about it. Draw attention to it. And if a group of teenagers can get together and form MINGA, a nonprofit founded by teens, to fight child trafficking by getting teens to work together, you can certainly bring yourself to give a little help too, can’t you?
- Pick something else that you don’t hear much about, another problem that doesn’t affect as many people as, for example, breast cancer, then start a foundation or a campaign to draw some attention to it. Rare disorders and diseases often get little attention simply because they don’t affect as many people, so you can imagine they get a lot less money and help. But I’d be willing to bet that some of the 30 million Americans that have these rare disorders would be eternally grateful. If you can’t think of any rare diseases off the top of your head, check out the website for the National Organization for Rare Disorders. They’ll have plenty of suggestions for you.
- Build a playground, a community center, a resource center, or something else and name it in honor of a loved one you’ve lost.
- Fund some research for a very common genetic disorder that, unfortunately, goes undiagnosed or missed more often than not (for reasons I’ll discuss in another post): hereditary hemochromatosis. When detected early it can be treated and lives can be saved. Undetected, it will cause all kinds of organ damage, and eventually kill you. Trust me. I’m one of the lucky ones.
- Or, if you just don’t want to invest the time, donate some to a foundation that will do it for you.
If I win the money, I will give some to all of these – and that’s a promise. (Now hopefully I’ll win and have to keep that promise!)