Crossing the first finish line

Written by on August 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

Kahm had only hoped her fundraising for multiple sclerosis would reach the seemingly insurmountable goal of $1,500. Then the impossible happened.

So we're only a few weeks from the Challenge Walk, and something I hoped but never thought would happen has happened: I completed my fundraising goal.

It's not that I thought it was impossible to raise $1,500 — I know people who've done this walk before, and overachievers like Ken set their goals thousands higher than that minimum. I just thought it was impossible for me. I have a small family, my friends are all starving graduate students, and "spare time" in which to do fundraising activities is about as foreign to me as sub-Saharan Africa. I depended almost exclusively on my solicitation letters — and yet, somehow, it all worked out. I reached my goal.

With that strange sense of calm, I can look back at what I did and see how it worked. I sent about thirty solicitation letters, and about twenty of those recipients donated. The few no-replies were mostly long shots — cousins with burgeoning broods of children whom I rarely see. For the most part, my family has been exceedingly generous about an event they are actually quite far removed from. (Is there a prize for having the most non-regional sponsors? Because the vast majority of my donations are from Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska!)

But I also wouldn't be even close to my goal if it hadn't been for the non-solicited donations from friends. In one day, a single, unexpected cash donation moved me from "I might get close…" to "I'll definitely reach my goal!". I also earned some bonus bucks through MS-related events that haven't tallied into my count yet. A friend of mine who thought I still had another hundred to go was pleasantly surprised to learn he had actually put me over the top!

Another factor I've started noticing is my Facebook counter has been getting me some last-minute donations. Apparently, people find a cause more irresistible if you actually look like you're going to succeed in meeting your goal. Because those bonus bucks are still out there, I've gotten a few donations even after reaching $1,500, which gave me a new goal: to actually raise the money I'd gotten in fundraising remission. It would be an amazing sense of accomplishment if I could actually "cancel out" the bonus bucks I thought I'd have to rely on!

I started this fundraising process thinking I'd be very lucky to make even half of the minimum, and I solicited without really expecting much response. But the one thing that has kept surprising me throughout this endeavor is the unexpected generosity people will show for a good cause. This Challenge Walk has given me a renewed hope — not just that people with MS can have better lives, but that we all can when we work together toward a worthy goal!

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

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