Every Child Should Have a Shot@Life

I am not a birthday person. While I certainly feel it is important to recognize and acknowledge someone on their "day of all days" I also believe it is essential we honor people in our lives who make a difference on a daily basis. But others I know spend hours culling celebration ideas off of Pinterest and send out perfect party invitations and create fantastical and memorable events that often become legendary. 

Author and Champion Advocate, Lois Alter Mark
And while I may not be a fan of the fanfare made on my behalf, I do love a good party, especially when it's for a good cause. Because the real point of gathering together for the party is the milestone that the party signifies. And what a milestone we are celebrating this World Immunization Week. This year Shot@Life celebrates it's first birthday. A milestone by any measure and one that Shot@Life works hard to ensure for the children of the world through global vaccination efforts and advocacy. 

I'm fortunate that as a Shot@Life champion I get to share in the celebration with incredible other champions, like my friend Lois Alter Mark. Lois and I spent a couple of days recently emailing each other back and forth and sharing stories about why we advocate for how essential global vaccinations are and why, now more that ever, we must continue to share in the milestones and make room for the rest that are yet to come. 

Myrdin: I, personally, find that there are a plethora of causes in this world that attract a the famous (and sometimes infamous) but don't have the depth they need to make significant impact. I asked Lois how "in a world where there seems to be a long enticing list of a 'cause du jour,' (many of which have flashy celebrity endorsements and support), what was it about Shot@Life that connected with you and made you believe that this is THE cause, not just a one and done?"

Lois: A few things. First of all, it’s about kids. How can you learn a fact like every 20 seconds a child dies from a PREVENTABLE disease and not take action? Second, we’re almost there already! With only three countries left to go, we are so close to eradicating polio. That’s amazing, and it would be a shame not to just finish the job. Third, it’s so easy to make a difference. You can fundraise or donate money, put on events, raise awareness by writing articles or sharing information through social media, get others involved as champions, advocate with government officials in person and through letters. If everyone did just one of those things, it would be huge.

Myrdin: your blog encourages and supports women to (in the purest sense) to find their voice and speak their truth. But even those of us who encourage others to speak loud sometimes hesitate in our own way. What part of advocacy are you most comfortable with and what are you going to challenge yourself to do as a champion in the year ahead?

Lois: I’m very comfortable behind the computer, writing articles and sharing information through social media. I’m not as comfortable getting up and speaking in front of groups. I think, as a champion, I will challenge myself with bigger goals in those areas I’m comfortable with because I know I’m more effective that way. For example, I was one of the top champions to sign up new Shot@Life supporters, so I think it’s best for everyone if I stick to the things I’m good at rather than give some awkward speech somewhere!

Myrdin: how did you learn about Shot@Life and in what way did you participate as a champion before being officially named as a champion? In addition, what were some misconceptions you might have had about global vaccinations and what have you learned? 

Lois: I learned about Shot@Life at BlogHer last summer. Before being named a champion, I signed a lot of petitions and wrote letters. I’d had no idea how many children were dying from preventable diseases and how to change that. Now that I know, I want to help make everyone else aware of the facts. I truly believe the more people understand, the more that will get involved and help give children a shot at life.

Myrdin: as we discussed I have a few personal "mottoes," quotes that inspire and help guide me. What quote (or quotes) inspire you as you travel on your path to personal fulfillment? Do you have a "mission statement"? If yes, how does your work as a champion compliment your personal passion? 

Lois: Well, the quote I live by right now, for better or worse, is “Done is better than perfect.” Okay, it may not sound like the most inspiring advice but it actually is life-changing. I could sit around forever, trying to find the exact word to use in an article, or the perfect picture to illustrate it, but you know what? No one cares about those things. It’s more important to just get the message out there. Along those same lines, my mission statement can be summed up in my word for 2013 which is “do.” I wrote a post about it when the year started (which you can read here), and it has totally pushed me to just keep doing instead of thinking and re-thinking and refining and waiting. It sounds obvious but the only way to get something done is to actually do it!

Myrdin: while in DC we had the chance to visit our elected officials to discuss the importance of continued support of global vax initiatives. Was that the first time you've visited your elected leaders? If yes, what did you find surprising as well as what were you not inspired by?

Lois: Yes, this was the first time although, like I’ve said, I’ve signed tons of petitions and written dozens of letters. Meeting with our representatives on Capitol Hill was a great experience because we were thrown right in and had to know enough to be articulate and answer questions. We met with four California Democrats so it was pretty much a love fest but I was impressed by the real interest and respect the reps showed us, and the time they take to understand the subject matter and to learn why it’s important to their constituents. I actually wrote about my experience for Huffington Post to help spread the word.

Myrdin: Finally, we activists rarely get "down" time, but when you do, what do you do to de-compress? 

Lois: I’m writing or researching for my blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com, most of the time – or else I’m watching movies and DVDs for my other job as Flicks for Kids editor at NickJr.com. Luckily, all of that is so much fun, it never seems like work!

I'm thankful that Lois was able to share some of her time with me as it is apparent she has quite the busy life. But no matter how busy we are, we can stop and take a pause to celebrate those major, and minor, milestones, to take leaps of faith, and to do our best to make the world a place full of celebration.

Lois and I, along with the other champions, know that it's the "power of we, not the me" that is being celebrated this week. Because every child should have a shot at a "day of all days," and the chance to have Birthday wishes come true.

PS. Lois wrote about my Shot@Life reflections on her blog Style, Substance, Soul , so please take a look, you know, as an early birthday present to me! And for more posts from other Champions, please follow Shot@Life Birthday Bash Storify page for links and updates. 

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