Team Building

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How to recruit and inspire your teammates.

 

Glass half full

Written by on February 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

I was surprised when I went to enter the dates for the Challenge Walk 2010 into my calendar. Rosh Hashanah, one of the two most important holidays in the Jewish religion, overlapped with the walk. How would I handle this? How could I decide between an important religious holiday and something as important to me as the Challenge Walk?

Fortunately, the National MS Society recognized the conflict and chose not to put its supporters in the position I briefly found myself in. I am incredibly thankful that the NMSS took steps to eliminate that very difficult choice by shortening the event to a two-day walk for this one year.

But to walk 31 miles instead of 50 miles? How disappointing, I thought — for a few hours.

Just as I wouldn't choose to have MS, having MS has taught me to approach life differently and to look for the opportunities hidden within the challenges.  As disappointing as it will be to walk two days and 31 miles, instead of three days and 50 miles, 2010 is presenting us with an incredible opportunity. I have heard people say that they could never walk 50 miles — it's just too long. Have you heard the same thing? Well, here is a chance for those who do not believe they can walk the 50 miles to walk a more manageable 31 miles. And when they walk those 31 miles, they'll find that participating in the Challenge Walk is such an amazing experience that they will walk the 50 mile route the following year.

This is your chance. Pull in all those people who balked at the 50-mile distance. Turn them into rookie Challenge Walkers, and watch them return year after year.

Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.

Team clothing made easy

Written by on January 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

There are many advantages to being on an MS Challenge Walk team, including support and camaraderie. We're happy to now announce yet another benefit: looking good on the route!

The NMSS has partnered with Spreadshirt.com to create an easy-to-use application to design and order MS Challenge Walk shirts and apparel. You can order as many or as few t-shirts as you want or need. They can even create and ship your order in less than 48 hours. The best part is that Spreadshirt.com will donate 20% of each order back to the National MS Society.

You can design team hats, t-shirts, jackets, and more! Choose from any style, color, cut, etc. Use the pre-selected images or upload your own. Once you have designed your product, you can order for the whole team or customize yours individually.

To let each teammate customize their apparel with their names, just email your final image to challenge@mam.nmss.org and they will add it to the program's image gallery. However, if a team captain places the entire order of shirts for the team (not ordering shirts individually), the NMSS can use this information to track purchases and then count 20% of the order toward the team's fundraising efforts.

You're already a team in spirit; now be a team in style!

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.

New Year's resolution to recruit more teammates

Written by on January 5, 2010 at 8:49 am

Last month, I suggested sending holiday postcards to your supporters. With the holidays now past, we're presented with an even better opportunity to use this effective and affordable marketing strategy.

Many folks make New Year's resolutions like "Lose weight" or "Exercise more", but these are the kinds of resolutions that fail because they're vague and lack structure. Developing a new, healthful lifestyle over time is more realistic than reinventing oneself overnight, and one way to encourage a gradual change is to set a schedule with a deadline — like, say, the MS Challenge Walk. So why not invite people to set themselves a goal of walking two days and 50K to cure multiple sclerosis?

I've never recruited for my team before because it seems like asking too much of someone. But in the context of a New Year's resolution, what I'm really doing is helping my friends meet their own goals. To do so, I again went to Click2Mail.com and created a postcard. You can see a sample PDF of the simple design I used. The front of the postcard consists of this year's MS Challenge Walk logo, while the back uses the Snipurl service that I've previously recommended. These 6" x 4.25", two-sided cards cost 23 cents each to print in full-color with glossy coating, and 28 cents each to mail, so sending 43 postcards cost only $21.93 total. If even one recipient accepts the challenge and meets the $1,500 fundraising minimum, then I'd say the investment of postcards is well-spent. And imagine if all 43 people formed a team — that'd be an extra $64,500 toward a world free from MS!

The event's two-day format, new to 2010, makes it an attractive option to newcomers who were previously scared off by the prospect of walking fifty miles, or who couldn't take a vacation day to participate in the Friday leg. Make it your New Year's resolution to bring one of these potential walkers into the fold. If you have other techniques for doing so, please share them here!

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.

Lookin' good in Challenge Walk apparel

Written by on August 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm

In just two weeks, we'll be huddling under the tent at the Cape Cod Sea Camps in Brewster. As you walk your way there, you'll work up a sweat — but come the night time, it can get quite chilly. What better way to keep your warmth and your spirits alive than with official MS Challenge Walk clothing?

Check out our online store, where you can order cotton sweatshirts, sweatpants, shirts, and tank tops. Everyone gets a shirt when they cross the finish line, but if you want something more with which to show your colors year-round, our online store has you covered.

All items are available in six different sizes. If you place your online order by August 31st at 5 PM, your selections will be waiting for you at the MS Challenge Walk. If you have any questions about the apparel, please email the MS Challenge Walk Team.

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.

Team-building at the NMSS warehouse

Written by on July 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

Believe it or not, the MS Challenge Walk is right around the corner. We are planning our packing schedule for the MS Challenge Walk as we have five trucks worth of event supplies, food, water, medical supplies to bring down to the Cape. As you can imagine, this is an enormous undertaking and we are looking for your help!

We are looking for volunteers who can come to our warehouse location to help in getting organized for this event. This is "fun work", not to mention a tremendous help to us. While the work is manual labor, it is not backbreaking by any means.

Do you have any free time during the weekdays of the weeks of August 24th or August 31st between 9 AM — 5 PM? If you do and would like to come to our Waltham MA warehouse location to help, please let us know. We can work around your schedule and have a variety of projects for Challenge Walk participants to help with. If you have a block of a few hours free, we could really use your help.

Please pass this message on to any family or friends that may be interested in being a part of this effort. It would be an invaluable help to us as we prepare for the MS Challenge Walk.

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.

Running with it

Written by on July 6, 2009 at 9:48 am

I have little patience for emotional displays. So when I was first diagnosed with MS, I did what all people with low tolerance for commotion do: I refused to talk about it and pretended it didn't exist. MS? Who, me? I've since come to learn that chronic illness isn't a personal fight that can be hidden away or ignored — it's a battle fought by friends and relatives who share the pain and uncertainty of life with MS.

My MS doesn't show. I'm often told how good I look, and sometimes, those words are said in a rather self-obsessed reassuring tone ("Don't worry about your progressive, incurable neurological disease — you're still attractive for someone your age"; other times, I think I hear disbelief in the but-you-look-so-good statement ("C'mon, how bad can this disease be when you look as healthy as you do?").

For the most part, I believe the majority of people simply don't understand what living with MS is like. For that matter, sometimes I forget, too. And then something happens, a big wake-up call named Relapse, and instantly, I remember how nasty MS really is.

After my second Challenge Walk, I had a call from Relapse that meant multiple hospital stays and a recovery that took months. During that time, my Challenge Team was far more than a group of friends raising money for a good cause. These wonderful, amazing people were my lifeline. They made me laugh when I didn't think I had it in me. They made me feel strong when I wasn't and they let me pretend all was well when things were far from okay.

At this stage in my life, I've stopped running from MS and, instead, I'm focused on learning how to run with it. So how do you learn to run with a disease? You tell your family and friends. You accept their love and support. And gradually, you come to know that disease isn't a shameful word.

Living with an illness that has no horizon is difficult. Right now, there's no cure to stake hope to. The physical toll of MS is obvious, characterized by hospital beds and dark glasses, but the unseen effects are the ones that are the hardest to live with. MS challenges emotional strength, tests relationships and can make any goal seem impossible to reach.

Thanks to the Challenge Walk, I know what seems impossible isn't. While there's no cure now, there will be one some day and eventually, MS will have more than a horizon. It will have a sunset.

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.

Worcester Team Rally & fundraising ideas

Written by on May 22, 2009 at 9:37 am

Earlier this spring, the the NMSS hosted a team rally in Worcester. About 18 people showed up from all parts of New England to meet each other and brainstorm fundraising and team-building exercises for all NMSS events, including the 50-mile Challenge Walk, the Worcester one-day walk, and the Cape Cod Getaway. In a variation on "speed dating", each participant moved from table to table, where they quickly exchanged ideas before moving to the next table of attendees. The evening culminated in everyone regrouping to share what they'd learned.

Beth Sansoucy of the Master Striders talked about the success her team has had approaching cars at red lights to ask for donations, similar to what firefighters do for Jerry's Kids. Not only is this a lucrative fundraiser, with over $7,000 raised in just four hours, but the number of people it takes to effectively cover several intersections makes it a great team builder as well and contributes to all its participants' fundraising goals.

Ken Gagne of the MSchief Makers suggested selling raffle tickets to one's co-workers, where the winner gets an extra vacation day. Though his particular workplace did not approve this fundraiser, his supervisor did contribute to his walk instead, so all was not for naught.

These were just two of the many ideas that were considered last night. Diane Fitzmaurice of the NMSS's Worcester chapter circulated an exhaustive list of 101 fundraising ideas, including bake sales, bowling nights, and "pajama days". What other ways can you think of to meet your goal?

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.

Challenge Walk on Facebook

Written by on May 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Are you on Facebook? We are! The MS Challenge Walk has its own Facebook group that you can join! Over 200 walkers and volunteers have signed up for the group, where they can post pictures of past events, discuss fundraising ideas, and receive invitations to upcoming events, such as the Boston Team Rally.

Facebook is a free social networking site where you can connect with your friends and family, share your hobbies, and meet new people with similar interests. I personally have used it not only to keep in touch with the many friends I've made at past walks, but also to find training buddies in my geographic area. Walking and riding is always more fun when you have someone to share it with and to egg you on. So whether you're looking for friends online or off, consider finding them on Facebook!

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.