While researching Dreamers of the Day, I came across a remark by T.E. Lawrence lamenting the fact that his fame was like a tin can tied to his tail. No matter how fast or far he ran, reporters and his reputation always caught up with him. “They’ll rattle my bones after I’m gone,” he wrote to a friend.
And there I was: yet another writer gnawing on his bones…
“Writers are cannibals,” wrote Cynthia Ozick. The lives of others are chewed, swallowed and digested, used as raw material by shameless writers to make our characters seem real, and we do so with every hope and intention of making money from the effort. To salve my cannibal conscience, I’ve chosen to support an appropriate charity for each of my novels.
For The Sparrow and Children of God, it’s the work of real-life Jesuits at Red Cloud School on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — one of the very few college prep schools that serve Native Americans.
For A Thread of Grace, it’s been American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which funneled money to the Jewish refugees in Nazi-occupied Italy and which still serves refugees of all faiths around the world.
And now, for Doc, there was an obvious choice: The Smile Train, which changes lives around the world by providing free surgical correction of cleft palates and cleft lips.
This week, I’ve formally established the Doc Holliday Memorial fund with The Smile Train in memory of John Henry Holliday and in honor of his uncle John Stiles Holliday’s unheralded achievement in correcting John Henry’s cleft in 1851.
I’ll match every donation, large or small, dollar for dollar, up to $15,000.
It costs Smile Train $250 to repair a cleft. If enough of you get on board, we can change 120 lives. Furthermore, the Smile Train volunteer surgeons also train local surgeons in the procedure, which multiplies the effect of each cleft we pay for, year after year, long after the Smile Train has moved on.
To make a donation to the Doc Holliday Memorial Fund, just click on that link, and follow the directions. If you’re willing to send me your address, I’d like to thank you personally in writing. To sweeten the deal a little, on Doc’s birthday (August 14) I’ll select on donor at random to receive a full set of first edition hardcovers of my novels. It’s not much, but the real pay-off is knowing a child will have a reason to smile because of Doc.