Today marks the fifth international Rare Disease Day. It is a day that unites families, communities, and nations together with the common hope and belief that one day the disease that has touched their life or the life of someone they love would find a cure. The theme this year is “Solidarity.” It speaks of the importance and the need for collaboration and mutual support in the uphill battle of finding a cure in the field of rare diseases.
The disease that robbed our son of his life, Battens Disease, is classified as a rare disease. It is one of 6,000 rare diseases that indiscriminately invades and ravages the life of the afflicted with most of these diseases having no cure. As you can imagine one of the first things that is robbed from you is hope! That is why solidarity is such a key and important word this year.
Having lived in Poland, Central Europe for six years, I saw firsthand the power solidarity has in offering hope in a hopeless situation. Poland was controlled by a godless and evil empire. Hope was nonexistent. Yet on August 31, 1980 Solidarnosc (Solidarity) emerged in the Lenin Shipyards of Gdansk, Poland. Lech Walesa and others formed an anti-Soviet social movement, uniting the Catholic Church, members of anti-soviet groups, and free trade unions, infusing hope and change and rebirth. What seemed impossible became a possibility because people joined hands in solidarity. We can do the same thing!
In looking for a good definition of solidarity I stumbled upon a definition from a 1913 dictionary. It said,
“Solidarity signifies a fellowship in gain and loss, in honor and dishonor, in victory and defeat, a being, so to speak, all in the same boat. –Trench.
I count it a privilege and honor to be in the same boat with many of you! Lets never forget: We are not alone! What we do matters! And we are loved by God.
(If you want to know more about Rare Disease day you can check out their website.)