I received an interesting phone call back in the fall of 2008. It was from Joan Canel, and she wanted to know why there wasn’t more going on in Arizona to raise awareness and money for Fragile X. Not only did she want to know why, she was adamant that it be done. I wholeheartedly agreed, and then proceeded to explain to her that we were lacking a certain critical mass of volunteers back then.
“Well, if no one else will do it, we will! she stated. “Will you help?”
“Yes, of course!” I replied, knowing I could never say no to Joan. Thus began three years of working with Joan Canel and Judi Gross, both grandmothers of individuals impacted by Fragile X syndrome, on an event that became known as “Raising Green in the Desert.” I should add here that both of their charming husbands were also instrumental in helping these events raise over $75,000 during that period!
While I never witnessed it, I did get a good visual image of Joan and Judi tooling around Scottsdale gathering auction items and gift certificates from local merchants. They were relentless in their quest and I can tell you with confidence that merchants there were as helpless as I was in saying no to Joan and Judi. It just couldn’t be done.
Each year, in the months and then weeks leading up the events, Joan would call with lots of questions. She was always worried no one would come. But they always did (see note above about saying no to Joan). It’s not because she was mean or overbearing, but because her heart was so much into the cause, and she was so strong in her conviction that this event could help it. How could anyone argue with that?
My fondest memories of Joan include sitting together at Judi’s kitchen table (great snacks were always on hand!) deciding what the starting bid amount should be for each auction item. It was probably here that I learned my most important lesson about never saying no to Joan. She was so funny, but at the same time so sweet in her convictions about the right price that I had no choice but to agree with her.
I enjoyed working with Joan on the last Raising Green event was held in 2011, but it was apparent that it was getting to be too much for her. Now that she is gone, I will miss even more her keen wit and desire to want to do the right and generous thing for Fragile X.
The NFXF shares in the sadness of the entire Canel family, longtime supporters of the foundation, at the loss of our great friend Joan Canel on April 3, 2013.