Walking together: A family affair

Written by on August 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

When Patty Seaburg of Littleton, MA, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 29, she turned to her boyfriend right then and there in the hospital and gave him an out.

"I told him… you can get out at any time—you don't have to do this," she recalled.

How did Mark, her high school sweetheart, respond?

"He basically told me I was crazy."

That was three years ago, and they have just celebrated their one year wedding anniversary. Mark proposed to Patty a couple days after they completed their first Cape Cod Challenge Walk in September 2012.

"It meant more that he did it after I was diagnosed," she said.

MS didn't keep the couple from celebrating their love and getting married, and it isn't keeping them from taking part in their third Challenge Walk together, September 5–7.

Patty Seaburg

Patty and Mark took the challenge—together.

Patty said it's truly a "family affair" with her mom, one of her sisters, and her sister-in-law walking with her and Mark team The Walka Walka Walkahs! Another sister holds a huge fundraiser each year for their team, while still another sister is part of the volunteer crew that supports the walk. Her brother helps with the fundraising events, and her father, whom she calls her "rock", has volunteered as well.

All this family support is vital to get her through the challenge of walking 50 miles over the course of three days.

"It means everything to me," she said. "It's amazing and makes me feel loved."

Patty's commitment to the cause has grown beyond subjecting her feet to the rigors of the walk; she's also joined the Challenge Walk Steering Committee, helping to plan this huge event.

"She's very dedicated to making this event a success," said Aileen Callahan, Development Manager for Greater New England chapter of the National MS Society.

Patty said seeing hundreds of other walkers taking on the Challenge, many of them also living with MS, bolsters her spirits.

"It's uplifting… It makes you feel not as alone."

Patty will never be alone, not with a husband who never flinched, and a family determined to stand and walk beside her.

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

Challenge Walk MS 2014 theme announced

Written by on July 30, 2014 at 7:57 pm

It's hard to believe that Challenge is less than two months away! I know that everyone has been working hard at their training and their fundraising and we have been working hard at organizing lots of fun for all of our walkers! On Friday, our Walk theme is "Around the World in Three Days". You will get a chance to visit Italy, Germany, and France to name but a few of the countries you will see that weekend. Experience and enjoy food and drink from around world! As one of your emcees for Friday night, I have couple of things up my sleeve to make our program even more enjoyable and entertaining for you!

On Saturday we will all be showing how hard we are working toward fight MS by wearing our orange all day. Shirts, shoes, bandanas, hair — wear orange in any way you can think of to show our support for the cause and for the pride we have for working so hard year after year fighting this battle.

I can't wait to see everyone!

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

When superheroes walk

Written by on July 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Sarah Jacoby of South Hero, Vermont, is very open about her multiple sclerosis — but when it comes to her blisters, she hides them like a teenager with a pimple on prom night.

"I don't show them to the medical team because I'm afraid they'll tell me I can't walk!" exclaimed Jacoby.

By walk, she means taking part in the three-day, 50-mile Walk MS: Cape Cod Challenge.

"You gotta be a little crazy to do this to yourself, but it's worth it!"

Despite having MS, an often times disabling disease, and pushing 70 years old, Jacoby has walked the Cape Cod Challenge every year since its inception in 2002. That first year, she walked as an individual, but over the years her family and friends have joined her.

"I had family members that came down [to the Cape] to watch everybody walk in [to the finish] and they got hooked with that," she said.

Now, her team, MS Action Heroes, is 15 members strong and includes Sarah's grand-niece and grand-nephew. Also joining her is her friend Bonnie, who also lives with MS. The team has raised a total of nearly $80,000 to fund research and services for people with MS, like Sarah.

"I think the big thing [for me] is raising money for the research. I think that's so important. There are so many people worse off than I am with it, so I hope someday we find a cure."

This September 5–7, Sarah and her team will join hundreds of other people in Walk MS: Cape Cod Challenge Walk 2014, sponsored by EMD Serono/Pfizer. It begins and ends in Hyannis. Learn more about Challenge or to make a donation online.

Sarah will be a featured speaker at the program Saturday night (Sep 6) that accompanies a Candlelight Vigil for Hope with people with MS.

Sarah admits she's a bit behind in her training this year because she spent 11 days in the hospital this spring with a problem with her appendix, but she's fought through monster blisters —so a little surgery won't keep her from taking on the Challenge.

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

How to get your story in your local paper

Written by on July 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Want to get the word out in your area about the Challenge Walk? It's not as hard as you may think — just follow this handy list:

  • Make a list of your city/town and surrounding towns.
  • Google the names/websites of each newspaper.
  • Write a short letter about the Challenge Walk. Include the dates, start and finish places and information about the route, i.e. walking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail and the beauty of Coast Guard Beach.
  • Say why you are participating, why fundraising for MS is important to you, etc. Be sure to include a picture of you wearing MS apparel. Tell people how they can contribute; include the link to your personal MS page. Mention that they can volunteer for one day or all three days.
  • If you really want to be thorough, call and ask for the editor first. I found everyone to be receptive and helpful.
  • Everyone likes a human interest story. By printing your letter, they are helping to spread awareness and raise funds for vital research. I received a couple of online donations from people I did not know, who had personal connections to MS!

    By following these steps, I got my story printed in Middlesex East, the paper of my town, Woburn. You can read "Woburn's Carrai walks for MS" online.

    For more tips, check out the Publicity Tools section of the Challenge Walk MS website, or read our other publicity tips.

    Good luck! See you in September!

    Sue has been an MS Challenge Walker since 2003. She began her journey with MS in honor of two good friends who were diagnosed with MS in the early 1980s; since then, the list of people she proudly walks for has grown.  Sue is committed to continue her fundraising efforts for as long as it takes.  She has made lifelong friends at MS Challenge Walk and looks forward to spending one weekend each September with the ladies of Cabin 56! Sue works for UBS Financial Services in Boston and is a professional violinist. She lives in Woburn, MA, with her son, Nathan.

    A message for team captains

    Written by on July 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Hello, Captains!

    Can you believe that the Challenge Walk Weekend is less than 2 months away?

    Raising $1.1 million every year is no small feat, but you are no ordinary group of people. Not only have you committed to raising $1,500.00 and walking 50-miles in 3-days, but you have accepted the additional responsibility of leading your MS Challenge Walk Team in this fight against MS.

    Challenge Walk is a fully supported event, and that support extends far past just the 3-days that we spend together. With everyone's fundraising in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that the Steering Committee is here to support you year round. We are committed to you and to the success of your team.

    Do not hesitate to reach out to me, to the Steering Committee, or to Aileen Callahan at any time during your preparations for Challenge. Additionally, if you would like one of us to make outreach phone calls to any of your teammates, we are happy to do so.

    Please also remember to advertise your fundraisers to your fellow walkers. Your teams hold such amazing fundraisers — and we want to attend them! Post your event on the Challenge Blog Calendar. Share the details on your Facebook profile (and ask your friends to re-share). These are all great tools for reaching our community.

    Just a reminder – "Training Tuesdays", "Wisdom Wednesdays", and "Fundraising Fridays" are officially underway on the MS Challenge Walk Facebook Page. Be sure to like our Facebook page for these helpful tips.

    Finally, don't underestimate the importance of training. We want to see your smiling faces under the Big Tent! Not under the Medical Tent…

    Thank you all so much for your commitment to this cause. I am honored part of this event with you.

    Every connection counts. Every step matters. Every dollar helps. Together, we are strong. Together, we WILL win this fight against MS.

    With love,

    Amy Scannell

    Walker & Challenge Walk Steering Committee Co-Chair

    Amy has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2002, in honor of her father, who was diagnosed the year before.  In 2007, she joined the Steering Committee and currently serves as co-chair. She feels blessed to be accompanied by such an amazing group of people in this fight against MS.  Amy lives in Lowell, Massachusetts with her husband, son, and daughter.

    Winners of the FUN in FUNdraising Week!

    Written by on June 23, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Did you know that by stepping up your fundraising efforts last week and reaching out to others through your participant center, you have raised an additional $5,300 for the Mission?

    Did you know that your fundraising dollars support critical MS research and vital programs and services for people living with MS in our community?

    THANK YOU

    …for making a difference. Every dollar we raise together through MS Challenge Walk has the power to change lives. Every connection counts.

    Congratulations to our Challenge winners, who will each receive a reserved table in the front row for Friday Night’s Program:

    • Melissa DelPrete from Socks on Fi~yah
    • Paul Koehane from Wheels and Heels Against MS
    • Cyndie Seavey from Cyndie’s Angels
    • Lisa Rolfe from Blister Buddies
    • Paul Laporte from American Dream Team

    Aileen is the Development Manager for the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society responsible for the 2013 Challenge Walk. She has interned with the National MS Society at the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter with Program Events and is looking forward to working closely with the Steering Committee and Challenge Walk Teams to make this year's MS Challenge Walk a memorable one!

    Another spring — time to kickstart my fundraising

    Written by on June 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Okay, I know what you are going to say. And you're right: I should be fundraising all year long in preparation for the MS Challenge Walk. When I was on staff at the Greater New England Chapter and overseeing the MS Challenge Walk, I couldn't fathom why a person would wait till the spring to start their fundraising for the September event. But here I am, starting in spring.

    I have enjoyed getting back into the swing of my team's fundraising efforts. My focus for this year was to create an informative, personal, and meaningful solicitation message for 2014. In addition, I am attempting to send as many 1:1 emails as possible to past donors and new friends/colleagues that I might solicit for the National MS Society. Simply, this means that I will be sending out more emails and personalizing them as much as possible to better target the donor.

    Here is the trick, though: to really reach, connect, and engage a friend to give to the National MS Society, I need to think about how that person will mentally and emotionally receive what I've written, and what part of my family's MS journey is important to them.

    For example, when I had a significant MS attack last August, many friends reached out to show support and hear how I was doing. Well, you better believe that in this year's solicitation message to those folks, I will highlight what we went through together last summer as a motivator to stay involved. Other friends like to discuss the impact that research will have on eradicating multiple sclerosis. For those people, I'll have to work in a few points about the cutting edge research done through the National MS Society.

    Given my work schedule, I tend to send my NMSS solicitations in the evening. Being tired after a long day, it is hard for me to avoid sending out one email to a group of people for the sake of efficiency and time. But I find when I send out the 1:1 solicitation emails that the response rate and dollars donated are higher.

    How is your fundraising going this year? On behalf of the MS Challenge Walk Steering Committee, might we be of service in any way to you or your team?

    Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

    This is why we volunteer

    Written by on May 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    All of us who volunteer or raise money for the National MS Society do so because we usually have a connection with a family member or friend who has MS. My connection is my brother-in-law John.

    John Scannell

    Mike Kizner (left) finds inspiration in his brother-in-law, John Scannell.

    John was nearing fifty years of age when he first noticed changes with his vision and other telltale signs that he knew were out of the ordinary. Thirteen years ago, John was diagnosed with MS, which over the years has developed into secondary-progressive. When flairs do occur, the recovery is usually not complete, so permanent disabilities accumulate. Through the years, John has become more dependent on leg braces, walkers and occasionally wheelchairs. He does not look for sympathy or complain about these daily challenges but instead lives each day with his head held high.

    Although John won't be able to run the 100-yard dash, that has not stopped him from keeping his spirits high with the hope that soon we will find a cure that ends MS forever.

    Mike has been involved with MS Challenge Walk since 2004. His connection to MS is with his brother-in-law, who was diagnosed in 2000. Mike has been a crew member and Team Lead with the Activity Tent and supports the Falmouth (ME) office, where he coordinates their yearly Plane Pull event. In 2013, Mike will be helping the Lunch Bunch Crew under the watchful eyes of his wife Sharon, who is Crew Leader.