Last month, Jeanann & I got up early on a Saturday morning to take a two-hour ride to Salisbury, NC. It reminded us of the days we drove the same route to Gaffney, SC to see our son Tyler play soccer at Limestone University. There was no soccer game on the agenda, but this trip did come about as the result of a game…the game of cornhole.

For the past few years, we’ve been participating in the Gilliland Foundation Cornhole Tournament run by our good friends Steve & Diane Gilliland. I met Steve through NSA Carolinas. He is a Hall of Fame speaker, whose style and storytelling abilities I admire. 

The Cornhole tournament is the fundraiser and this trip was not to play cornhole. We were going to meet a little three-year-old girl named Hayleigh and we were going to get to work. Hayleigh has Leukemia and is fighting the good fight. We were there to build her an outdoor playset. There was a big turnout and everyone was ready to do their part to erect a humongous playset by lunchtime.

The group was split into teams with each team responsible for a specific part of the playset. Of course, while working, we got to meet and make new friends. Most of the conversations revolved around how strong Hayleigh and her family were during this difficult time. The other topic was the realization of how blessed we all are. Even when we struggle during bad times, those times may not be so bad when you see what others are going through.

It’s a reminder that instead of complaining about our problems, we should be grateful for everything we have. A place to live, food on the table, our family, our children, a car, friends, and most importantly, our health. Little kids shouldn’t get cancer, but they do. How can we step up and make life a little better? How can we spread sunshine when the clouds are covering up the light? How can we give back?

When the playset was almost finished, we noticed two little neighbor girls looking through the fence at the playset. When Hayleigh came out to see the finished product, she had a big smile on her face and excitedly invited the two little girls to come over to share in the fun. That’s what kids should be doing, having fun on a playset. 

The Gilliland Foundation’s mission is to bring joy and hope to those who need it most. Jeanann and I were grateful to be part of this build. It’s a gift to be able to give back to others. 

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