Joyful Noise: Taking on Goliath


On November 8, 2008, my English teacher gave my class a paper to write: the assignment was to write about something in the world we wanted to change, and then do it. I wrote about ending sexual violence and domestic abuse. Then I got some friends together and organized a fundraiser for Joyful Heart. By the end of the fundraiser, my team and I raised over ten thousand dollars. All from an English paper assignment.

My name is Ella; I am 16 years old, and a 10th grade student at Christian Academy in Louisville, Kentucky.

The assignment was designed to get us thinking about an issue about which we cared deeply, be it recycling, animal testing, or even just a petition to get a stop sign installed in a neighborhood where a lot of children play. For me, it was a paper on the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. More specifically, it was helping the Joyful Heart Foundation.

Armed with this big, awesome idea for a fundraiser, I knew that there was a lot I still needed to learn before the actual planning could begin. It was also apparent to me that I would need an extraordinary amount of support from many different people to pull this thing off. I began by learning statistics, talking to a Special Victims Unit detective, and really searching my own heart to understand where my passion was coming from. I needed to make sure that my motives were pure, and that I really did want to take on this huge task. I also connected with Joyful Heart. I began working with Christine Russo, Joyful Heart’s program manager; her help and endless support proved to be invaluable and was an enormous blessing to me personally.

The next step in the planning process was developing a team. I already had the help of Christine, and the unwavering support of my parents, but I knew I needed more help. I built a team of seven friends, my aunt and my grandmother. With my dad’s input I was also able to enlist the help of professional graphic designer and communications guru, Cary Meyer, from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Meyer designed the invitations and logo for the fundraiser. He also helped me with some ideas for the name of my fundraiser based on the theme that had been chosen.

We decided to name the event Taking on Goliath, for many reasons. First and foremost, my faith in God is a very big part of who I am, so naturally God was the center of my fundraiser from day one. The other reason was the simple fact that I am a young person taking on an adult and Goliath-sized problem. It helped that our friend Danny Flanigan and his band, The Rain Chorus, had written a song called “Goliath” with lyrics that fit the theme perfectly.

Our efforts and energy were rewarded: on September 17, 2009, my idea for a Joyful Heart fundraiser became a reality. There were one hundred people in attendance and many more who made donations. The fundraiser was an enormous success and we raised over ten thousand dollars for Joyful Heart. I am extremely proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish together; God blessed my fundraiser with an intensity that still takes my breath away. However, although my fundraiser has concluded, and was an intense, beautiful success, the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence are far from resolved.

People tell me all of the time how proud they are of what I did. However, I did not do it alone. I am very proud and blessed to have been part of such a wonderful team, to have such generous sponsors, and to have so many businesses that were willing to donate silent auction items to the fundraiser. Since the start of my fundraiser I have said that there is a big disconnect between watching a T.V. show like SVU, and planning a fundraiser. It is the difference between being aware of a problem, and having the passionate response of “I have no choice; I have to do something.” I don’t believe that passion like that comes from a person; passion like that comes from something bigger.

The idea that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” reiterates to me how much it is going to take to reverse the problem we have on our hands. Sexual assault is a Goliath-sized issue and if we are going to get anywhere in the battle against it, it is going to take a Goliath-like number of passionate Davids to step up and do something. When Joyful Heart talks about our society needing a "Joyful Revolution,” they are telling the truth. It is going to take a Joyful Revolution to enable us to beat Goliath.

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