Column

Rial-Bates: Being brave can pay dividends

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

Today, I will tell you a story about my cousin Martha Rial. My hopes are that you will remember a bit of what I share that can be applied in your own life.

Recently, I visited the Newseum in Washington, D.C. For those who have never been to the Newseum, it is a museum that promotes free expression and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while tracing the evolution of communication. There was a reason I wanted to go to this museum. You see, Martha Rial, a photojournalist, had a sample of her Pulitzer Prize-winning photography hanging there. I had to see it.

The photograph was one of many taken during Martha’s three weeks in the midst of the Rwanda and Burundi conflict in Africa. The winning picture showed the fear and desperation of the ethnic conflict these people suffered in the late ’90s. Why am I telling you this? You see, Martha won a major life achievement that few dream of.

Yet, decisions were made to get her to this place. First, her sister Amy Rial, a public health nurse with the International Rescue Committee in Tanzania, told Martha she had to go. This chaos and misery had to be documented. Key people at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, not knowing whether this was a futile effort, carried the cost and gave her the freedom to leave.

Family and friends were encouraging and Martha listened to these supportive relationships. Next came the questions. Africa was 9,000 miles away. Where she was heading was dangerous.

Would she be safe? Could she quickly leave her commitments? Insecurity crept in, but she knew that despite her concerns she had to go. This was more than an opportunity, it was her destiny to capture the story of the tragedy taking place in Africa and share it with the rest of the world. She went and her efforts and risk-taking were rewarded with incredible pictures and stories that won her the highest recognition that can be achieved in her field.

We all have moments in time when opportunities are presented. Some of us decide to play it safe instead of stretching ourselves into a life-changing career. Yet others take the risk and move forward with an adventurous spirit, creating a whole new life.

A perfect example of this is the brave entrepreneur. We are privileged at the Chamber to see these people every day, people with passion who utilize their skills and invent home computers,cellphones and calculators.

Many with great courage leave the corporate security, with its steady paycheck, guaranteed health insurance and retirement plan. Some fall by the wayside, but others through perseverance, sweat, know-how, supportive relationships and courage, move forward and succeed. I am proud to know so many of these visionaries. Hurray for the entrepreneur.

Chamber members have some significant opportunities before them to develop new relationships. Our networking scramble Nov. 1 at McHenry Country Club always receives praise by its many attendees. Sponsored by Mercyhealth, Porte Brown Accountants and Advisors, Prime Media, Vid-For-Web Productions, Mixed Media and Maxicare, this Scramble almost sold out last year.

On Thursday, the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a mixer at the State Bank Group in Johnsburg. With five to six chambers in attendance from North McHenry County and Wisconsin, this mixer is a gift for our members to grow their relationship bank. Next, we host a mixer Oct. 15 at Senior Care Volunteer Network in Crystal Lake, Holiday Resource Mixer at McHenry Country Club on Oct. 22 and the Focus - McHenry Villa Halloween mixer Oct. 29.

Lastly, the Chamber is sponsoring the Small-Business Opportunity and Resource Fair at McHenry County College on November 7. Enjoy opportunities to create a sales force, new customers, sell products and generate leads. For information about any of these activities, visit mcherychamber.com.

• Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 815-385-4300 or visit mchenrychamber.com.

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