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Fundraising — flashbacks to childhood

Written by on August 19, 2009 at 11:30 am

If one were to describe my fundraising or selling skills, it might read something like,"Has difficulty asking for money even when the cause is noble; is too shy to barter even when in Mexico on vacation; required younger brother's assistance selling Girl Scout Cookies."

Trouble selling Girl Scout cookies! How bad is that? So here I am, about forty years later, preparing for my fifth Challenge Walk and proud member of the very successful Blister Buddies — and my knees still knock when I think about raising money.

So what kind of advice could this former Girl Scout and all round selling weenie have to offer?

  • Personalize the asking — My brother, sister, parents, aunt, and cousins all support me. I walk for Patty, my team captain; some of my family have met her, while others only know her story through me. I talk to them about MS and how it impacts Patty and those I've met at the Challenge Walk. Never forget how important it is to tell your MS story.
  • Have a bake sale — Even I can stand behind a table filled with homemade treats and make a sale. The Blister Buddies added a bake sale component to our annual yard sale this year, and not only did it add to the revenues — it slowed people down long enough to hear our story. I can't tell you the number of people who said "keep the change" when paying for a cookie or piece of cake.
  • Wear your message — I have a drawer full of MS shirts, hats, bags and pins. I wear them as often as I can, with the result that someone almost always asks about the event or the team.
  • It's okay to think small — Tens and twenties add up. Next year I plan to recruit people to have a yard sale with all or part of the proceeds going to MS. Our team has in-kind support from two printing companies, so I can provide my fundraising recruits with signage and other assistance. Bakes sales, dinners, similar functions all can be hosted by others to benefit MS; think about the number of new ears that will hear your MS story!

Fundraising isn't easy for most of us, so just remember that when you're telling your MS story, the listener can't hear your knees knocking!

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

Hydration generation

Written by on July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Don't Find Yourself Crying, "H2Oh No!"

First time walkers and Challenge veterans, all of us have faced the dilemma of "How much water do I really need to drink?"  It isn't always easy to find the midway point between needing to hooked up to an IV, and being ready to cross the Sahara.

I recently attended a "bring your own lunch" business seminar series. That morning, and with flashbacks to grade school, I placed a sandwich and apple into a small insulated bag along with a bottle of water. I am, after all, a member in good standing of the Hydration Generation, willing to purchase at outrageous prices that which readily flows from my kitchen sink faucet.

Once there, and naturally nosey, I looked around to see what other attendees selected for inclusion in their brown bags. I was startled to see one woman sipping from what looked to be the top part of an office water cooler! Turns out that her idea of lunch is a two gallon jug of designer H2O. (I made a mental note to nominate her for President of the Hydration Generation should elections ever be held.)

So why is it that, when faced with walking 50 miles over three days, some of us remain confused about proper hydration? I blame it on too much information. What we've read somewhere, what someone told us, the warning of the salesman selling us the backpack hydration system that once fully loaded with water is of spine bending weight.

So whose advice do we take? I recommend keeping it simple. The National MS Society has what you need to know in one easy to understand but thorough summary at http://challengedcw.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CW_DCW_hydration. Take the time to check it out. Dehydration or the wrong mix of energy drinks and water can cause serious problems that are easily avoided.

So, fellow Hydration Generation members, let me know what floats your boat!

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

From couch potato to workout queen

Written by on June 10, 2009 at 10:40 am

"Pinch me — I must be dreaming!"  I'm inside the gym, and it's packed with people in no better shape than I am. Shoulders slumped, heads bowed, Spandex stretched beyond the point of elasticity… and there isn't a single Olympian to be found.

Following advice given to me as I trained for my first MS Challenge Walk, I throw a yoga mat on the carpet, intent on stretching for at least five minutes. After a couple of half-hearted attempts to bend my leg back so that my foot touches my backside, I become distracted by the rumbling of my stomach. Oh, oh… this can't be good. I'm hungry, and I haven't even broken a sweat.

"Focus!" I remind myself, and onto the treadmill I jump. Thirty minutes later and I've walked 1.5 miles; the training has begun.

But what about the stretching I skipped, and what does a body really need to make the leap between couch potato and workout? MS Challenge Walkers should focus on avoiding injuries at the Walk, and part of the key to that involves smart training. I found an article at webmd.com helpful on proper stretching techniques that you might want to check out along with other resources both online and also through the National MS Society Web site. In particular, starting on page 19, the the Training and Fundraising Guide outlines the value and methods of three forms of cross-training: stretching, strength, and cardiovascular.

What's your favorite workout or warmup?

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

Don't count blisters

Written by on May 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm

When recently asked about my experience as a four-year Challenge Walk veteran, the word "counting" popped into my head.

"So," you might ask, "what do walkers count?" Walkers count miles, of course — those we've trained and each and every one between one and fifty. We count the distance to the next rest stop, and we keep an accounting of our fundraising money.

Sadly, also to be counted, are blisters. Over the past four years, I have seen some pretty scary blisters — blisters whose size and quantity become legendary through bunk bed whispering and campfire tales. However, those blisters have been on others' feet, not mine. What lies between my skin and sneaker is what has helped keep my count low.

Here's what works for me:

  1. Lubricate. Friction is not your friend. Products such as BodyGlide work. Most drug and sporting good stores sell it and it's often for sale at the Challenge Walk kick off party. I use Vaseline. It's cheap and I find I get better coverage than using a stick application product. The downside is it's messy.
  2. The right (and left) socks. Walkers' feet need to stay dry, and 100% cotton socks don't do the job. I wear a moisture wicking liner under a cushioned sock such as Thorlos. Do some price comparisons online at sites such as Sports Unlimited or NexTag. Target and other retailers are a resource as well. Best deals are generally packages of multiple pairs.
  3. Be fresh. Each day at the lunch stop, reapply the lubricant and change into fresh socks. The one time I skipped doing this resulted in two of my four blisters.

Taking the time to prepare your feet helps to prevent blisters and that's something you can count on.

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

Training — It's not for procrastinators

Written by on May 5, 2009 at 6:00 am

When I ripped the March page off my calendar, it signaled the end to a dreadful winter. My joy was short lived. My knees began knocking, my heart skipped a beat. Was I experiencing the symptoms of spring fever? Nope. I was feeling the guilt of having once again not worked out immediately following my last Challenge Walk.

Each year I make a vow to allow myself only a few weeks of rest before hitting the gym again. Each year I promise myself that I'll be in better shape next year.

So what happens to keep regular people like me (as opposed to Olympic athletes) from training? Let me identify some training pitfalls you should try to avoid…

Click to continue »

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.