Cam Taylor

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How Charity Saved My Leg

One act of charity can have an unimaginable impact on the lives of countless people. One act of charity eventually saved my leg.

Charity – n

  • generosity toward others


Charity has many faces. It shows up as a helping hand, a cash gift, a listening ear, a deepening friendship, personal sacrifice, the sharing of wisdom and insight, to name a few.

The size of the gift is not what matters. What matters is the spirit with which the charity is given and the gratitude in the heart of the person who receives the gift. I have a leg because someone gave what they had to help someone else. That’s what gives life meaning.

We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

A Story of Charity and Its Impact on Others

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while eking out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the rescue. There, up to his waist in the black mud, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling for his life. Farmer Fleming pulled the boy out of the mud and saved him from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up beside their humble farm house and an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out. “Hello, sir,” said the nobleman. “I’m the father of the boy you saved yesterday and I want to repay you for what you’ve done.”

Fleming would hear nothing of it. “There is no way I can accept payment for what I did. It’s what anyone would do!”

As he was speaking, his son came to the door of family home and the nobleman asked, “Is that your son?”

“Yes it is,” Fleming replied proudly.

“Here’s what I want to do,” said the nobleman. “I want to provide the money necessary for your son to get a quality education in the field of his choosing. If he is half the man you are, I’m sure he’ll grow to be a son you will be proud of.”

“Alright, I can live with that,” came the reply.

When the time was right, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who eventually discovered penicillin.

Years after Fleming’s life saving discovery, the nobleman’s son developed pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. Who was this nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. What was his son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Farmer Fleming’s act of charity saved a life. The nobleman’s act of charity changed a life who in turn acted with charity to save many lives.

Acts of charity touch us all

The world would be morally bankrupt without charity. Whether it’s a boy pulled from a bog, a scholarship given to say thanks, or a creative mind applied to solving a medical problem – charity matters.

Charity saved my leg. The infection I contracted during my motorcycle accident was a rare bacteria known as robinsoniella peoriensis requiring Piperacillin-Tazoba (part of the penicillin family) to eradicate. Because of the antibiotics, skilled surgeons, and divine aid, I still have a leg to this day.

Now what?

This Christmas, I’ve been thinking about the numbers of people who have been generous to me this past year. The charity I’ve received has come in the form of words, gifts, emails, wisdom, expertise, resources, money, help, time, respect, partnership, to name a few. I am truly thankful!

When I think about the charity I have received, I want to be quick to give away what I have in my hand when a need arises. I don’t want to give because I have to or to get something back but, like Farmer Fleming, because right in front of me is a boy who needs to be pulled out of the bog.

When have you received charity?
Where do you hear a call for “help” you can respond to?

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

4 Replies

  1. Cam…what a great and very timely use of a such a well known story. ..thank you, brother. ..may the Lord bless you with a better year in 2014. ..Happy Christmas! 

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

    1. Thanks Alan. All the best this Christmas seasons to you & your family as well.

  2. Ron Unruh

    Sorry to do this Cam. When I find good stories and want to use them for my own messages, I have made a point of fact checking and regrettably they occasionally prove fictional when I thought them to be true. This one cited above is another tall tale. According to the Winston Churchill center in Washington, D.C., this is a myth. There is no evidence these events ever happened. Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, says there’s no record of Churchill nearly drowning or of his father paying for Fleming’s education. Churchill was once treated for pneumonia, but according to the center, not with penicillin.

    1. Thanks Ron for pointing out the “facts” you have discovered about these stories – things are not always as they appear! I trust you are keeping well.

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