The Relevant in the Room

I don’t know the ‘why’ yet. Maybe I would be more understanding if I saw some data, a few facts on how a name could be harming an organization.

Let me back up.

Gilda’s Club is a cancer-patient support organization that has been around since the passing of the woman for whom it was named, Gilda Radner.

Going back just a tad further, Gilda was a part of “Saturday Night Live” when it was born.  The Amy Poehler or Tina Fey of her time.  Maybe substituting their name from here on when I say ‘Gilda’ will help you realize why those of us who were around to see her glory days think the name change is asinine.

Gilda became famous from her exposure on SNL, then branched out and did several movies, meeting Gene Wilder along the way.  It was love at first sight.  Her career was in high gear, she had become iconic and then cancer struck.  Ovarian cancer.  She died at age 42.

No matter what your age, that’s just way too short of a time on this earth.  So, in the aftermath of her passing and to honor her memory, the charity was established to help people going through cancer care with the tough financial and emotional days ahead.  Now, 23 years since her passing, the people in charge have decided that a name change was necessary, because they claim the public doesn’t know who Gilda Radner is.  That she is no longer relevant and beneficial to have in the name of their organization.

One of the big realizations that has come to me with the years I’ve racked up is that with age, comes wisdom, experience, insight and so many other benefits that are dismissed by those of a younger age.  Removing Gilda’s name from the organization probably came from an over-researched, focus-group collection of opinions that showed younger people didn’t know who Gilda was.  So, tell them.  Is it that hard?

Funny how they don’t have this trouble in sports.  Football’s Vince Lombardi trophy is the top prize in the Superbowl.  Vince last coached in the 1960s.  The best pitcher in baseball covets the Cy Young award.  His playing days were over a century ago.

The decision to change the name of Gilda’s Club was made by leadership without vision or decision skills.  If they were running the country, the Washington Monument would become “The National Phallic Symbol”, because “people just don’t know who George Washington is.”  George Washington University would simply be known as “The School”.

I believe, in time, they’ll be reversing that decision on a national level.  But for the time being, I’m proud of the Seattle chapter which has announced they’ll stay with the name, Gilda’s Club.

Gilda Radner’s time on earth was tragically cut short.  Her memory and the mission of Gilda’s Club is a daily reminder that each day is a gift to be cherished.

Part of growing older is the realization that what seemed like an endless supply of time is actually more finite than you think.  You don’t want to wander around as a fatalist, but you also don’t want to take all this for granted.  It’s that balancing act that will help you realize that this can be a great day or just another one.

Gilda’s cancer went undetected for a long time.  Then there were treatments and all the emotional ups and downs. When the doctors wanted to do a Cat Scan to get a better look at what they were battling, she did not want to go under.  But after much convincing, she was given a sedative…and never woke up.

I’ve commented in previous posts that the younger generation seems less interested in what came before them and seems to only care about today and themselves.  That’s probably won’t change, but I do expect that thirty years from now, when they’re all older and wiser, they’ll be wondering when their world suddenly was no longer relevant.

To a generation, Gilda Radner’s name still means funny, Rosanna Danna Anna and a life cut way too short by cancer.  I’m proud to be a member of that generation.

Oh,  and when a day rolls around you wish you could have avoided–Gilda would have gladly taken that one for you.

Tim Hunter

 

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