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#CuseTixForKids: Musings, Learnings & Deciding Where The Rest Of The Money Goes

A look back at the #CuseTixForKids donation drive and figuring out what to do with the rest of it.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On December 15th, if you had told me that we were going to send 700+ underprivileged kids to the Texas Bowl to watch the Syracuse Orange defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers, I'd have been overjoyed.

And I still am.

But after the entire process unfolded, and we ended up raising over $44K, good enough to buy 1,400 tickets to the game, I can't help but feel a little disappointed that it "only" ended up being 700 or so.

I say that 'perception is reality' a lot around here, and this, I suppose, is a good example.

Whenever people complain about the fans who don't show up for Syracuse games, I try to remember to appreciate those who do show up. And I'm doing that here as well. The photos of kids enjoying the gameposing with Otto and generally just have a good time were fantastic. Stories like the one Andrew posted today are what the entire experience was about. I could honestly care less if any of these kids become Syracuse fans, so long as they just enjoyed the day.

The obvious question is, would I do this again? And my answer is…yes and no. Yes, I would want to raise money again to send kids to a game or experience but, no, I wouldn't do it exactly the same. Next time, we're using some kind of fundraising service, PayPal isn't set up for this kind of thing. The Texas Bowl did everything they were supposed to do in distributing the tickets but there's a part of me that wishes I had taken that on myself. I don't know what I could have accomplished that everyone else didn't, but, that's what happens when you're a Leo. You think you can.

As if perfectly timed for the experience, Gawker wrote a piece almost two weeks ago called "How Many People Died Because of Batkid?" The article is as jaded as the title suggests, pondering what San Francisco could have done with the money raised and spent on the BatKid endeavor if it had used it to help those in need of life-saving surgeries or help. It's typical Gawker contrarianism (which I mostly enjoy), but of course the opinion hit home considering what we were trying to accomplish with #CuseTixForKids.

In the end, the question I had for the author of the article was…why are those my only options? If I donate to help BatKid does that mean I can't donate directly to other charities? Do I have to only donate to things that are severe? If I can't afford to make a donation that's substantial, should I even bother? Am I ever allowed to buy a cup of coffee again or should all of my cafe mocha money go towards life-threatening surgeries for other people?

The author would like you to believe that the BatKid experience, and likewise the Texas Bowl donations, were a waste of resources. To which I can only reply, I'm sorry you feel that way. Not for me, but for yourself. I'm sorry you the see the world the way you do and I'm sorry whoever made you feel that way did so. I'm sorry someone turned you into such a "realist."

I guess the point is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with helping those who are underpriviledged experience something, anything, that they wouldn't have otherwise. You have no idea what will come from that. You have no idea how that trickles into other aspects of that person's day, year, life. It's not as tangible as paying for a life-saving surgery or building a home, but putting some positivity into someone's life can't possibly be wrong. That's what realists can't grasp, because they can't put that effect in a bar graph or statistical analysis.

Conversely, by donating to this cause, I'm betting a lot of people out there are going to keep it going and donate to other causes. Now that they've seen the smiling faces and heard the positive reactions, they'll want more of that. And why not?

One thing we CAN tangibly record is what we're going to do with the leftover donation money. Following the payment for the tickets n'stuff, as well as a FedEx overnight fee, we're left with $2,007,37.

What should we do with it?

Based on the parameters of what we raised money for, I think it's obvious the money should go to kids in need in the Houston area. I've located a couple charities I thought would make a nice fit and I've listed them below.

Kids' Meals: Kids' Meals is a 501(c)3 non profit, community based organization, serving healthy lunches to over 1,700 hungry pre-school aged children, living in poverty. We provide and deliver nutritious meals, free of cost to the families, Monday through Friday, year-round.

Urban Harvest: Urban Harvest celebrates healthy living through the food we eat, fresh whole food that comes from the ground, on bushes and trees in a natural state. The organization teaches how to grow fruits and vegetables, for oneself and for others to share or to sell at local farmers markets. It advocates for access to this fresh food so that all Houstonians get the nutrition necessary for healthy bodies and minds, hence for healthy communities and ultimately for a healthy planet.

Child Advocates: Child Advocates, Inc. mobilizes court appointed volunteers to break the vicious cycle of child abuse. We speak up for abused children who are lost in the system and guide them into safe environments where they can thrive.

I feel weird putting charities up to a vote so I guess I'm just curious to see what folks have to say. I personally like Urban Harvest for the way it teaches kids how to grow their own food (and avoid drinking too many Sonic Slushes in the future). But, weigh in below with your thoughts and we'll try to come up with a decision everyone can feel good about.