The Man with The PINK Beard!

May 26, 2021

The Healing Chickadee is flying around the country…


Is there such a thing as “minor miracle?” I suppose, by the very definition of the word “miracle,” they are all major. But if walking on water isn’t the criteria for a miracle, I experienced one yesterday.


I met a man named Adam Katz. I reached out to him because he was a Rotary Club member and I wanted to discuss the Healing Chickadee. When we connected, I found out he was not just a Rotary club member but the Founder of the Doreen Katz Memorial Foundation. It is a foundation dedicated to helping children and their families after a cancer diagnosis.


For sure as fellow Rotarians, we had lots to discuss. However, I wanted to hear more about his foundation. I marveled at the chances that our lives were in close alignment as our hearts were in tandem for children who may experience loss. This is where my definition of a minor miracle occurred. Adam and I spoke on the phone and I listened as he told me his extraordinary story. I will try to tell it accurately here but I was overwhelmed emotionally and impressed so I may mess up some of the specifics. Let me try.


Mr. Katz is a “numbers guy.” His background is in accounting with time spent in the military so my gut tells me he appreciates and maybe even needs, order. But life gets messy and that is where the beauty makes its way inside.


In 1996 Adam fell in love and married Doreen. He was by her side as she battled breast cancer that ultimately took her life. He told me that after her death, “I spent twelve and a half years keeping it all inside. I kept everything a secret.” As he told me this I was thinking of the physical and emotional consequences of keeping the enormity of that pain under wraps.


In 2008 he donated to the Avon Cancer Walk but did not participate. As he told me this, I was thinking that he wanted to get near the grief but not actually touch what hurt so much. As I listened carefully, I could not help but allow my mind to do a little “armchair psychology.” Like a Monday morning quarterback, it is useless, but inevitable. I was interested to see what he chose to do next.


The following year, he participated in the Avon walk for breast cancer. He was also asked to be a speaker. This was the moment that twelve and a half (he always mentions the half as this kind of pain is like labor-you know how many hours you were in it) of pain came pouring out. After he allowed that deep sharing to happen, he received hugs and the healing began in earnest.


It was at this point he wanted to do more than just share his story. He wanted to help children and families with what was needed. Feelings put into action is love in motion. This is the part of the story that I was amazed with. He started the Doreen Katz Memorial Foundation to provide education to children as their parent waged the fight to beat cancer. He told me he quickly learned that “The education piece was one thing but how can a child learn is they are in fear and pain? That is when I realized the therapy piece was just as important and began to make that part of our program. Kids need to know it’s not their fault.”


When he spoke of children not being able to focus it brought up my own challenge as a ten year old child. After my sixteen year old brother died, my ability to focus on school was like rolling a rock, up a steep hill. For this reason, my heart was touched when Adam we so clear in his understanding of what children are faced with as a family is coping with illness and possibly, death.


Adam was generous with his time. He seemed willing to stay on the phone to share his passion for this project. He said this foundation “is all I do.” I understand the feeling. Once you make a commitment to service with the desire to make a difference, the purpose takes on a life of its own. Currently the foundation is helping families in Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona. Adam said, “My goal is to have a physical presence in every state.” I have ABSOLUTELY no doubt he will make that happen.


As if all this wasn't enough, Mr. Katz also wrote a book, "Healing Through Helping." It's subtitle is "Overcoming Grief and Loss." He is sending me a copy and I am looking forward to reading it. If it's half as interesting as talking with him, it will be a page turner. Thank you Adam!


I asked what I could do to help and asked if I could “blog” about him and the foundation, he was willing. I could hear his smile over the phone as he expresses his desire to let the world know that he has a mission and he will accomplish that for the love of Doreen and the families he has met along his journey.


I told him I get up every day and say, “Thank you God” and “Yes, God to whatever you would have me do” and then I meet people that I am supposed to meet. The way Adam came into my life was my “minor miracle” for the day and I hung up grateful that our paths crossed.


Below is a quote I took from the website. Please visit the website and the Facebook page. If you wish to donate to the work of the foundation, please do as you are led.

The Foundation makes the financial commitment to support parents facing cancer with kids (K-12) in affording school and sport activities, therapeutic programs and extracurricular activities that benefit the child's health and wellness. (taken from the website DoreenKatzMemorial.org)