You know what I would do if I were a billionaire? I’d donate a good chunk of it to asthma and allergy research. Said no one ever (or maybe just a few people, but you catch my drift).
Until this week when Sean Parker—founder of Napster and Plaxo (used one, not the other), and first president of a little-known social network called The Facebook—became an instant hero for all of us in the asthma and allergy world by pledging $24 million to create the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University; the esteemed Dr. Kari Nadeau at the center’s helm.
Parker has good reason to invest in this research. He has asthma and severe food allergies, and has landed in the hospital for allergic reactions a minimum of 14 times just since he met his wife.
While he certainly has every reason to want a cure for himself, he wins the heart and affection of every parent of a child with severe food allergies for turning the focus away from him by answering Forbes’ question this way:
Steven Bertoni [Forbes]: Sean, did you create the research center to cure yourself?
Sean Parker: The most important thing is to cure kids. This should be a curable disease but all we’ve done is put band-aids on it. We’ve been treating symptoms for 100 years. The scariest thing is for parents. You can’t be with your kids 24 hours a day–they’ll be in school and at friends’ houses. There is a lot of social pressure just to eat things and not ask questions–there is even bullying. It happened to me. Once kids found out I was allergic to peanuts, they’d try to smear peanut butter on me–that could have killed me.
Wow. He covers a lot of ground in this one answer: the inevitable accidental exposure, parental concerns, peer pressure, bullying. But again, he shows less concern about himself and more about the young ones coming behind him.
If I could, I would give him a kiss (on the cheek—we’re both married—and after I’ve made sure not to expose him to his allergens). Seriously. I guess I’d have to stand in line, right?
Sean, your parents raised you right. Your charitable giving is well documented and reaches areas including cancer research and championing for clean water in third world countries. Adding in asthma and allergy research seems like a natural fit.
Together, we’re rooting this effort on. Thanks for giving us hope that help is on the way.