Gavin Lambert is twelve years old. He tells me that he wants to be an actor and a basketball player when he grows up. On March 3rd in Plant City, Florida, the community raised $45,000 in his honor. A farm was transformed into an elegant dining hall. Uniformed friends served a professionally prepared meal with farm-grown ingredients, and a choir performed musical favorites for guests, with Gavin seated behind them on the grass, singing along. His brother Evan sold a folder full of drawings for $500 to a generous donor.
I came as a stowaway with FARA Ambassador Lealan and her husband Daniel. Lealan had designed beautiful FArm to Table logos and programs. I took a few photographs, plated salads with an assembly line of volunteers, and auctioned off my late grandmother’s heart-shaped cream cheese cookies alongside bracelets, paintings, furniture, and an impressive array of donated items before slipping into an empty seat beside FARA’s own Felicia DeRosa.
I was delighted to find familiar faces, and to meet a few new ones: the college student and aspiring scientist, the crafter of beaded bracelets and keychains that read “cure FA,” the mother with her curious, adorable infant. As those with FA gathered for a group photograph, one of those new faces— a parent—insisted that I be in the picture, too. I realized later that she may have mistaken my limp for a sign of FA. Gavin wondered about it, too. He asked me a question that others had asked before him over the years at fundraisers and at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:
“Do you have FA?”
“No, I have something different,” I told him. “I have CP.”
I explained what cerebral palsy is, how it affects my mobility too as FA affects his, but that it is a very different disorder.
“I hope they find a cure for CP,” he said.
“Thank you, Gavin,” I said, “but I’d rather focus on finding a cure for FA. Don’t worry about CP— I have CP, and I’m okay!”
Gavin smiled and said: “I still hope they find a cure for CP— I have FA, and I’m okay!”
Difficult though FA may be, it is no match for Gavin’s generous nature. It is no match for the hopefulness of childhood, for the dedication of our scientists and advocates, or for the momentum that holds this community. FArm to Table was a great testament to that power. Together we will cure FA— in that I have every confidence, and I am very lucky to be with you as an ally along the way.