Editor’s note: Local Tech Wire welcomes letters and opinions from readers about issues facing the technology and entrepreneurial industry. Dana Dorroh of HumanCentric Technologies writes about the importance of giving back and sharing.Heartstrings often get touched, sometimes even unexpectedly. It’s the feeling that moves a crowd of hundreds of people to stand unprompted during the song “Proud to be an American”. It’s the promise and miracle of a newborn child; or in my recent experience, it’s a community of individuals that sacrificed their time and freely gave their talents to create a voice for the voiceless.

On Sunday, more than 2,000 people came to the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center to participate in the 18th annual “A Toast to the Triangle,” the signature fundraising event that will benefit more than 430 families served by the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. When one truly immerse herself — or himself – in a passionate cause, it’s easy to let your heart dictate your time, efforts and attention.

While my feet still throb and my body is weary, I’m reminded that the most valuable technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow is the integral technology of the heart. Business is crucially important, though we should never lose focus that the ultimate bottom line is caring for one another. It’s giving to one another. It’s showing up to help.

As the 2003 Toast dollars are still being counted, this charity event truly captured the essence of community — family, friends, and businesses alike.

Groups of dedicated volunteers, Toast sponsors, restaurants, and media partners united to give what they could because they believed in a cause. Developmental disabilities do not discriminate in color, economic status, educational background or business acumen. For no rhyme or reason, any family can be affected with a profound disability and any person’s healthy mind can be swiftly altered as a result of an accident.

Many givers, many workers

The generous gifts of hundreds of people did not go unnoticed:

  • Sixty restaurants and their teams came together under one roof to share their fabulous fare. These restaurants were not compensated nor did the Center charge the restaurants anything for participating in the Toast. However, as a business owner, I know that each restaurant’s commitment to participate in the Toast is a tremendous gift of time, effort, resources and food. Without our local restaurants, there would not be a Toast. Next time you’re dining out, support one of the participating restaurants. You’ll find them listed at www.atoasttothetriangle.org.

  • Forty plus volunteers and two Tammy Lynn Center staff members orchestrated this event, so the expenses were kept to a bare minimum. There was no marketing budget. There was no salaried executive director of the Toast. The volunteer committee was simply a group of caring individuals who came together to envision a fundraising event that provided the community with an evening to remember. This time took away from other business and family obligations, and it’s so important to acknowledge the impact of that choice.

  • At the end of the 2003 Toast, more than 400 pounds of food were picked-up by the Interfaith Food Shuttle. On Monday, this food was delivered to the Shepard’s Table Food Kitchen and The Salvation Army to feed the homeless and the hungry of our community.

Area businesses have had a rough couple of years, and it is so easy to not get involved with charity causes. It’s easy to ignore. It’s easy to think that someone else will do something about it. It’s easy to get so obsessed with our daily workload that we forget about the needs of our community.

Any family who has been touched by a developmental disability should have access to the wonderful services of an organization like the Tammy Lynn Center. The 980 Wake County families currently on a waiting list for developmental disability services deserve access and attention. The Toast to the Triangle helps raise money to bridge that gap.

In leading this dedicated group of volunteers, I am inspired and in awe of what we can accomplish under a unified vision and a dedication to a cause like no other. If you were involved with the 2003 Toast, thank you for reaching, inspiring and believing in the special lives of the Tammy Lynn Center. You gave the Toast life, and the ripple affect of your gifts will linger way into the future.

If you missed the 18th Annual Toast to the Triangle, it’s not too late to give. Simply go to www.atoasttothetriangle.org. If you are interested in getting involved in the 2004 Toast, please contact Nicki Stoner. She can be reached at 919-832-3909.

Yes, it was 60 restaurants under one roof, one night, for one ticket price; but you know, it was really technology at it’s best — the technology of the human heart — 2,000 people in one place, enjoying each other, and touching a life they may never know. That’s the Toast to the Triangle.

Dana Dorroh is co-Chair of the 2003 Toast. She is Director of New Ventures and Business Development for HumanCentric Technologies, Inc. She is an investment partner in two Triangle companies, One Source of NC and Peakton Digital Media. As an entrepreneur, she has built, merged and sold several companies.

Note: LTW was one of the media sponsors for ‘Toast of the Triangle.’