Ode to Missy

Aren’t we lucky when we have that friend to belly laugh with? The one who can jump ahead and say your thoughts just by reading the look in your eye? Somebody who eggs you on, makes you more brave/devious/curious? The one who jumps if you will? Well, that was Missy McDill to me. My friend, fellow board member and graphic designer Melissa McDill was a pioneer in her field of produce marketing, branding and packaging design. The little packs of baby carrots- that was her idea.

Since the statute of limitations hasn’t run out yet, I can only allude to all the fun we had, and the trouble we would make, especially for anyone in either of our companies or Jacob’s Heart Childrens Cancer Services. Missy gave 300% to everything she did and JH (Jacob’s Heart) was near and dear to her, having served on the board as president, executive director and consistent enthusiastic donor.

When the founder, Lori Butterworth asked me to join her board of directors, I said no because I was too busy. After thinking it over I told her that if she could get Missy Mc Dill to join then I would. Missy and I were shameless in our asks. Insistent that our board be composed of doers- did they have a truck was the first question we’d ask. Do they have people who would volunteer or pitch in? Do they have a vacation home we can auction a week for at our next fundraiser?

We’d invite the wealthiest people we knew to come to JH on Monday mornings early before the heat kicked in to make our pitches (now you know). I would instruct the bewildered staff not to turn it on until we left, knowing it wouldn’t take long to extract a pledge from them.

Or the first time we did a search for an executive director together. We were so happy to choose Sally (Green) Wiley that we couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the board thought of her, jumping up and down on the chairs like 5-year-olds until they got there.

Or when Oprah gave JH a van for transporting families to treatment. It was loaded with extras, so many that we couldn’t figure out how to start the thing with all the added buttons, dials and levers on the dash, doors and ceiling. I remember both of us had to work late and we were tired and hungry, but we agreed to pick it up at the dealership after hours. Missy got behind the wheel to drive it and I started looking for how to adjust the mirrors. After 15 minutes in desperation, I just opened my whole hand wide enough to hit every button on the ceiling control console. Honestly, it didn’t look much different than before since all the doors were opening, sliding, closing even the sunroof and hatch back. The tv was blaring, wipers going, radio at 10 decibels- we drove right to the nearest bar for margaritas on an empty stomach rather than figure the darn thing out.

Rest In Peace Missy. Your work here is done. You never let your own decades-long cancer battle stop you from improving the lives of countless children and their families.

To honor Missy's innumerable contributions, and her passion for the arts, Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support Services will be dedicating a healing and creativity wing in her name. Join me in donating at www.jacobsheart.org