I cannot think of a worthier cause than one with a mission to keep our precious children alive, teach them how to love themselves as they are -- while still respecting differences in others -- and reassure them that they all have a place in this world no matter what they may believe in a moment of despair.
And I cannot think of a worthier person to be at the helm of such an organization. Julie Kesel Zicha is a woman who has personally experienced the unimaginable heartbreak of losing her beautiful child by his own hand because he could no longer bear the torment he experienced for simply being "different" in the eyes of one narrow-minded community. Ryan Joel Zicha is a perfect example of someone who fought valiantly to live his life authentically. Sadly, those who sought to silence him won that battle. Through Ryan's Rainbow Connection, however, Julie Kesel Zicha has shown her determination to win the war.
Julie Kesel Zicha's ability to speak from the heart and to guide others in seeing the world from a more compassionate perspective is well documented. Since Ryan's passing five years ago, Julie has established herself as a force to be reckoned with. She is a tireless advocate, as well as a hard worker with the passion, intelligence, integrity and work ethic necessary to lead this organization to success. There can be no doubt she will one day be counted among the ranks of other well-known parents who crusaded for change after losing their own children far too soon: Adam Walsh, Polly Klaas, Natalee Holloway and Megan Kanka, to name just a few.
The potential reach of this organization is infinite. The need for societal change is resounding. People from all walks of life have children, are a part of or know someone in the LGBT community, have been affected by mental illness or have fallen prey to bullying.
Ryan's Rainbow Connection is a great non-profit for all of the reasons mentioned above. At the very least, it will ensure that Ryan Joel Zicha's untimely passing was not in vain. At best, it will save a life.