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Are you ready to support 600+ walkers? Whether you're cheering or riding, these posts are meant for you.

 

If you can't walk, volunteering is just as rewarding

Written by on May 25, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Earlier this month, I had my first experience as a volunteer at a National MS Society-sponsored walk. Almost 500 people walked five miles in Cohasset that Saturday. I am used to being a walker, but this time, I offered to man a table to recruit people for the three-day MS Challenge Walk, and after the walk began, I went out to one of the rest stops to cheer people on. It was an absolute blast!!!

As a walker in the Challenge Walk, I can tell you that the volunteers truly make a difference to the walkers. Just when my feet and spirits would begin to drag, I'd be motivated and re-energized just by walking into one of the rest stops and hearing a little cheer, or somebody tell me that I was doing great, having a non-judgmental friend urge me to eat more Tootsie Rolls and Peppermint Patties. But I never thought that being that volunteer could be just as rewarding as doing the actual walk. Let me tell you, it is.

If you can't walk 50 miles and you still want to join the movement, be a volunteer! You will be making a difference and will feel amazing. I now know, because I have been on both sides! Many crew spots are already full, but we still have need for a few more. Please see what jobs are available, then email Brenda Barbour or call her at 1-800-344-4867 x135 to sign up. We can't do the walk without you!

Caroline is getting ready to walk her fifth MS Challenge Walk. This is also the anniversary of when she was herself diagnosed with MS. Her walking team is Kranny's Cruisin' Divas. Caroline spoke at last year's last year's August Celebration and is a member of the walk's steering committee.

Riding the Challenge Walk

Written by on May 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Looking to mix up your Challenge Walk experience?  Consider hopping on a bike!

Looking to mix up your Challenge Walk experience? Consider hopping on a bike!

I received a good question today from my friend Melody, who has walked the Challenge Walk these past few years. She's decided to join the bicycle support crew in 2009 and wonders, "I am a little concerned about the training…how much do you usually ride before the walk?" I made a similar transition from walker to crew last year and discovered that being on wheels doesn't take the "challenge" out of "challenge walk"! I am not an expert bicyclist, but I'm happy to share my experience.

I rode only 2-3 times a week leading up to the event. I got accustomed to going 10-20 miles at a time, though one Sunday I did drive down to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and ride its length and back, which proved to be about 55 miles. It can be very useful if you have a little onboard computer that calculates your mileage.

The farthest I've ever ridden in a single day is a metric century — that is, 100 km, or 62 miles. Unfortunately, that was the first day I'd been on my bike in two weeks. Was I SORE!! Consistency is the most important quality of training.

Depending on how you handle being on bike crew, you may go as few as 25-30 miles a day, or as many as 50+. Since it's not hard pedaling, you may find the greatest challenge comes just from being in that seat for so long… so make sure it's a comfortable one!

Whether you're a first-time rider like Melody or have done it before like me, every crew member should sign up for the NMSS's crew training session, where you can get all your questions answered… even the ones you haven't thought of yet.

Ken 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.