Give fruit and help MS!

Written by on March 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Candy makes you fat, and flowers die — so why not send a gift that's healthful, fun, and helps the National MS Society?

Edible Arrangements specializes in that perfect gift of delicious and nutritious fresh fruit (okay, some is dipped in chocolate), artfully displayed in a colorful arrangement. All this month, when you purchase an Orange Citrus Blossom arrangement, $5 will go to the National MS Society for each one sold. No birthdays or anniversaries in March? No problem. You just have to purchase the arrangement during March; it can be delivered any time of year!

"As far as putting time and effort into any charity, it's the [National] MS Society," said Nick D'Alleva. D'Alleva owns three Edible Arrangements stores on the North Shore of Boston. The Society is his charity of choice because his brother-in-law and niece both have multiple sclerosis.

Orange Citrus BlossomIn 2011, D'Alleva came up with the idea to combine his business with a fundraiser for the Society. Since then, he and his fellow store owners have raised nearly $40,000 for the Society.

This year, 61 Edible Arrangements stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are taking part in the campaign.

Don't you have someone you know who would love a healthful treat?

To order an Orange Citrus Blossom, visit for a listing of all participating locations.

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!

Jumpstart Your Fundraising

Written by on February 21, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Here is my secret: I hate asking people for money.

Phew! It feels good to get that off my chest.

But it's true — fundraising is difficult for many people. Which is why it's great that there are SO many different ways to raise money for Challenge Walk MS.

Are you a good writer? Share your story in a letter to your friends and family. Do you or someone you know have a talent such as photography or hair styling? Raffle off a complimentary session. Is your basement or garage getting a little cluttered? Have a yard sale. Do you have a fabulous brand-new idea, but are unsure how to get it off the ground? We can help.

We will be discussing strategies like these — and more — at our upcoming "Jumpstart Your Fundraising" Meeting. Join your fellow Walkers and Crew Members on Saturday, March 14, 9 AM – 11 AM at the NMSS Greater New England Chapter office at 101A 1st Avenue in Waltham.

Topics to include letter-writing, raffles, corporate sponsorships, events, and social media. You'll also have the opportunity to make new connections with other Challenge Walk Participants, share ideas, and maybe even launch a joint team fundraiser (which is a great way to expand your audience and increase your profits)!

Finally, each attendee will receive $50 BONUS BUCKS toward their fundraising goal for joining us! That's right, you'll be $50 closer to surpassing your fundraising goal. A light breakfast and coffee will also be served.

Be sure to RSVP here, where you'll have an opportunity to tell us what topics YOU want to discuss.

Whether this is your first year or your fourteenth at Challenge Walk MS, I can guarantee that you'll walk away (no pun intended!) a better fundraiser.

Even if you cannot make it to "Jumpstart Your Fundraising", please do not hesitate to reach out to me, the Steering Committee, or Aileen Callahan at any time during your preparations for Challenge. We are here to help you succeed.

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.

Timing is everything

Written by on January 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

It's that time of year again. While many of us make resolutions after the ball has dropped and the champagne glasses have been put away, January, for me, is all about the base. The sponsorship base, that is. Did you know that many businesses make their sponsorship decisions for the year during the first quarter? Now is the time to hit the ground running, not with your feet, but by getting your sponsorship request out in front of potential sponsors.

I know it's hard to ask for money, but corporate sponsorship is completely different from asking your Aunt Hazel for a donation. Corporate sponsorship is a business arrangement where you offer benefits that a potential sponsor will see as valuable. It is a tool that companies use to build their brand. You can help them do that by inviting them to support one or more of your fundraising events.

Here are a few simple steps to help you get started:

  1. Understand what you have to offer. What is the target audience of your event? A golf tournament audience will be different than an 80's themed fundraising dance. It is important to know who your audience is and how that audience will overlap with your sponsor's target audience. Businesses like statistical information, so when reaching out to potential sponsors, include as much demographic information about your planned event as possible: projected number of attendees, age, gender, etc.
  2. Understand what sponsors are looking for and offer benefits and value that meet their needs. Benefits for sponsors include:
    • Raising a company's profile by association with the Challenge Walk
    • Improve corporate image
    • Meet corporate responsibility by supporting a good cause
    • Hospitality opportunities by inviting clients to events
    • Improve employee morale and engagement by inviting employees to events
    • Increased exposure to desired target audience
    • Alternative marketing channels
    • Social media
    • Press
    • Event site signage
    • Category exclusivity
    • Presence at the event
    • Logo on all collateral material

    You get the idea. There are a number of benefits associated with supporting an event that will benefit the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society. The key is pitching the sponsorship opportunity appropriately.

  3. Research potential sponsors. It's not enough to get a list from the local Chamber of Commerce website. You should research the companies you are going to approach and solicit them individually. While a broad request letter can have some success, it is much more likely you will hook a major sponsor by tailoring your request to the company's needs. It has been helpful for my team members to approach businesses in three different ways:
    1. Companies that have an association with you, personally. Think about the people you do business with: your dentist, dry cleaner, the restaurant you go to every Friday night. They already know you and are more likely to support someone they see doing business at their establishments.
    2. Local businesses that could benefit from an association with your event. These are companies you may not do business with, but who could benefit from the exposure they'll receive by being affiliated with your event.
    3. National companies who sponsor similar events.
  4. Craft a proposal letter. The letter should include details about you. Why are you doing the Challenge Walk? What is the Challenge Walk? Include the purpose of the fundraising event and the benefits to the sponsor. Be specific about what you're looking for: sponsorship to cover event costs? Discounted goods or services? Straight cash donations? In your proposal letter, it is vital to include the cost per sponsorship. As the former VP of marketing for a community bank, I used to receive numerous sponsorship requests without a specific financial request. When I received a letter without a dollar amount, I'd usually approve a $100 donation. While a $100 donation is a nice gift, the charity seeking funding may have been looking for $1,000. Bottom line: if you don't tell the company how much you want, you won't get what you need. For a larger event, such as a golf tournament or a dinner cruise, it may be helpful to "tier" the sponsorship levels. For example, as the "Gold Sponsor" the company would receive X; for a "Silver Sponsor," the company would receive Y in benefits.
  5. Identify the person who can say yes. Send your request directly to the person who will approve it. It is absolutely worth it to take the time to call a company and ask who handles corporate donations. That task can fall to the marketing department, community relations, or even the company president.
  6. And finally, the business relationship with a sponsor doesn't end when you receive the check. You have to ensure that the sponsor receives the benefits you offered. Follow up with a thank you letter, detailing specifically how the event reached the goals you set.

Diagnosed with MS in 1994, Patty responded the way many do: she refused to discuss it. It took her ten years to realize that silence isn't the answer. She, her friends and family formed the Blister Buddies for their first Challenge Walk in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee. In November 2008, she became a member of the Greater NE Chapter's Board of Trustees.

Live tweeting MS Challenge Walk 2014

Written by on September 4, 2014 at 9:00 am

For the fourth consecutive year, walker and committee member Jennifer Yates will be live-tweeting the MS Challenge Walk Cape Cod. Her tweets and several other walkers' and volunteers' will appear on our Twitter landing page.

Share this weekend's experience with a friend and invite them to live the Challenge vicariously by following along with our tweets! Here's the link:

The tweets will also appear live on our Facebook page, so feel free to follow along there if you prefer:

Are you a Twitter or Instagram user? Want to get in on the action? Use hashtag #MSChallengeCapeCod!

Ken, an Arlington resident, joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Botox for MS: Not your usual fundraiser

Written by on September 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

When you're a dermatologist and your beloved sister gets multiple sclerosis, what do you do?

If you're Dr. Jim Campbell, you give out free units of Botox(TM) for a donation to the National MS Society.

"It's a complete win for everybody," said Campbell.

The Dover, NH, dermatologist held four of these "unusual" fundraisers recently at his business, Dermatology and Skin Health. The money raised went to his team, Minion Milers, in the upcoming MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod.

Campbell said the idea for the fundraiser came out of a "fatigue" for fundraisers.

"We do so many fundraisers [each year]. You hate asking [people] every five minutes for money," he said.

So, Campbell thought, why not give people what they are looking for at a reduced price, in exchange for money that will help people with MS? He got his distributors to donate the product, and he and his staff donated their time; that way, all the money raised went to help people with MS.

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell (center) with two of his teammates.

Campbell said it wasn't a difficult to get distributors to give him the product for free.

"I do enough business with them," he said laughing.

At each of the fundraisers, people lined up for the chance to save about $100–$150 off the usual cost of the wrinkle treatment. It was a huge success! Campbell raised between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars each night, bringing his team total to more than $20,000.

For Campbell, it's a chance to use his professional skills to help his sister and others who live with this disease that has no known cause or cure.

"I have the opportunity to do this and that makes me feel good," said Campbell.

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

MS has given him more than it's taken

Written by on September 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Tom Olafsson of Brookline considers himself a very lucky man — despite the fact he has an incurable disease that has required him to have more than 8,000 injections over the past decade.

"Overall, I am a lucky one. I am doing okay," said Olafsson.

Tom has multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed with the unpredictable and often disabling disease in 2004. MS has affected his vision and balance, but overall, Tom feels he's been able to manage his MS.

"I made sure to fight once the initial diagnosis was digested," he recalled. "I got in better shape. I eat better… I have MS but I will continue to battle the best I can."

Nine years ago, he heard about the MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod: 50 miles over three days. He and his wife Louise signed up. "At the time I felt stuck in my own body and thought the walk would be good for me to do. That is now quite an understatement," he said.

Tom and his wife said the experience seeing hundreds of people walking in support of people with MS "blew them away." Since then, more and more family members have joined their team.

This weekend, Tommy's Team will take part in the 13th annual MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod — and with every step, Olafsson will count his blessings.

He has the love and support of his wife of nearly 27 years; he has four terrific daughters, one of whom is flying from her home in Spain to walk Challenge; and he sees the positive in everything, including his MS.

Tom Olafsson

Tom Olafsson with his wife Louise and one of their four daughters.

"MS has given me more than it has taken away. All those walkers have given me so much. Seeing all the people … on Sunday makes me want to thank each and every one of them.

Truly, a lucky man.

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

We are two weeks away!

Written by on August 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

All Aboard, Challenge Walkers!

We are officially 2 weeks out! Try to think back on all the hours of training you've completed and all your efforts in fundraising to fight MS. The Challenge Walk MS weekend is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work and a celebration of all that we have accomplished together.

As event weekend quickly approaches, we are putting the finishing touches on all details. Please let the Challenge Walk MS Team know if you need any last-minute fundraising help or have any lingering questions about the weekend. We look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Thursday Night Early Check-In Party

For those of you arriving to the Cape early, please join us on Thursday night at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis for an early check-in party.  Pick up your walker/crew credentials and sign the appropriate waiver forms, and meet other walkers and crew!  Enjoy delicious catering and celebrate the start of a great weekend. The festivities begin are from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm. We hope to see you there.

For arrival information and instructions, please see the Travel & Information Guide.

Please note – housing at the Sea Camps is for Friday & Saturday night only. If you're attending the Thursday night early check-in party, you must make your own accommodation arrangements.

Reminder — Travel Guide

Our Travel and Information Guide has all of the who/what/where's of the 2014 Challenge Walk MS.  Use this guide to find directions to the Kalmus Beach Parking Area in Hyannis (where all walkers and crew park their cars for the weekend).  The guide also has useful information on packing and the weekend schedule. To download this document, click here.

Last Minute Fundraising Notes

We are striving to reach our goal of over $1 million dollars this year for the MS Challenge Walk. Donations are coming in online and through the mail every day and will continue to do so after the walk. But, we need your continued efforts to ensure we hit this mark. Are there friends and family members who have promised to donate but have yet to do so? We encourage you to send them and email or letter reminding them of their pledge. We need all Challenge Walkers to reach their fundraising goals so that together we can all continue to create a world free of MS. If you are having troubles reaching your goal, please do not hesitate to contact the Challenge Walk MS Team and we can work together to find the best fundraising methods for you. All team and individual top fundraising prizes will be for the donations that have come in as of Wednesday, Sept. 3rd. Send in those checks!!

From Crew Member to Super Crew

We are encouraging all crew members at the Challenge Walk to become a member of the Super Crew. A member of the Super Crew is someone who raises at least $200 for the Challenge Walk MS. Last year, crew members raised over $50,000 for the MS Challenge Walk. Members of the Super Crew will receive a Super Crew cap and 2014 pin to commemorate their success. As of right now, we only have a handful of Super Crew and would like to add more, so please send in your donations!

Congratulations to our top teams (to date):

  1. The Lombardi Party – $30,072
  2. Feet 2 DeFeat MS – $26,228
  3. Cocktails for a Cure – $ 21,954
  4. MS Action Heroes – $21,448
  5. Linda’s Legacy – $15,956

Kudos to our Top Individual Fundraisers (to date):

  1. Tom Olafsson – $10,931
  2. Sue Carrai – $7,830
  3. Barbara Johnson – $7,660
  4. Joan Kaplan – $7,640
  5. Kathy Smith – $6,468

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!

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.