“NIH is an organization devoted to public service. The Combined Federal Campaign allows us to highlight that commitment to public service,” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine director Dr. Josephine Briggs told the crowd gathered at the 2014 CFC kickoff event on Oct. 8 in tents in front of Bldg. 1.
The CFC is the annual workplace fundraising drive among federal employees that serves more than 20,000 charities. NCCAM is the lead institute for this year’s campaign.
Briggs said that it’s a pleasure to co-chair this year’s campaign along with NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.
Dr. Lawrence Tabak
“The array of charities creates a wonderful opportunity to give back to the world,” Briggs said.
Next, NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak thanked last year’s lead institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, keyworkers and other volunteers for their efforts. He noted that NIH staff donated $2.4 million to CFC charities in 2013, despite enormous obstacles.
“You can’t shut down NIH’s generosity,” Tabak emphasized, recalling the 16-day government shutdown that postponed last year’s CFC kickoff. “NIH is second to none in meeting challenges, overcoming obstacles and seemingly doing the impossible.”
Tabak said NIH is the largest CFC donor within the Department of Health and Human Services and in Montgomery County.
“Let’s work together to exceed our goal and remind our colleagues that we’re in this together,” he said.
Kirk Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports USA, delivered the kickoff’s keynote speech. “What charity you give to and the programs that you support make life-changing differences,” he said.
Bauer said CFC is unique because the Office of Personnel Management vets every charity to ensure that all are legitimate and deliver the services they say they offer.
“This means that when you pick a charity through the CFC, you know it’s going to be effective and help change lives,” he added.
Forty-five years ago, Bauer lost his left leg as a result of wounds suffered during a firefight in Vietnam. Back then, he said, there was little support for veterans with disabilities.
“In 1969, Disabled Sports USA offered one sport, skiing, to single-leg amputees,” said Bauer. “Because of support from the public—including the private sector and the CFC—we’re now able to offer over 40 sports for any type of disability you can imagine.”
Helping launch the 2014 CFC effort at NIH are (from l) musician Ted Garber, NCCAM Executive Officer Wendy Liffers, NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs, and keynote speaker Kirk Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports USA.
As examples of how charities change lives, he told the stories of two Marines whose lives were affected by Disabled Sports USA.
Bauer said a 19-year-old Marine stationed in Arizona donates $1,500 a year to Disabled Sports USA and War Fighter Sports, a rehabilitation program that serves injured military members, including veterans and those on active duty.
Whenever someone donates that much, Bauer sends a personal thank-you note. Then, the Marine called Bauer and asked if he could speak to Disabled Sports USA staff. Bauer gathered his staff in his office and put the soldier on speaker phone.
The Marine said he donates to Disabled Sports USA because the charity changed his family’s life. In 2005, his father lost his leg as a result of a wound suffered in Iraq. As part of his rehab, the father became involved in the charity. The Marine said he was able to ski, snowboard and scuba dive with his father because of Disabled Sports USA.
Under a large tent in front of Bldg. 1, some 40 CFC charities were on hand to display their services.
Photos: Ernie Branson
Bauer also said he received an email from a veteran who wrote that Disabled Sports USA had also changed his life. In Iraq, the vet suffered multiple serious injuries. Afterwards, he said he was lost in life. One day, Disabled Sports USA taught him to ski. Being able to ski has given the veteran a new passion that has extended to other areas of his life. Bauer said the veteran even proposed to his now-wife at a Disabled Sports USA ski event.
The veteran also hopes to help other vets with severe disabilities realize that life isn’t over after combat injuries.
“These are the kinds of difference that you are making and can make,” Bauer said.
After the keynote address, musician Ted Garber performed his song, “Giving Tree.” Garber is a former artist-in-residence at Strathmore Performing Arts Center. Before he sang, he said his wife was enrolled in a clinical trial at NIH.
“I know that NIH is a fantastic organization firsthand,” he said.
NCCAM Executive Officer Wendy Liffers closed the ceremony by thanking NIH staff for supporting the CFC.
Disabled Sports USA is one of more than 40 charities that set up information tables at the kickoff. Representatives from those charities were on hand to answer questions.
The CFC seeks to raise $2.2 million and will run through the end of the year.