The guilt made her do it

Written by on July 29, 2015 at 10:04 am

Beth Keough of Franklin, Massachusetts, didn't set out to walk fifty miles on Cape Cod last fall because she needed the exercise, wanted the blisters, or even because she was raising money to find a cure for a disease she lives with every day — no, she did it out of guilt.

"I was tired of the guilt trips," she laughed.

The guilt trips were from her brother Tom Keough of Milford. Tom had been taking part in Challenge Walk MS on Cape Cod for five years and wanted his sister to join him. Challenge Walk MS is a three-day, 50-mile walk on Cape Cod that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Beth was diagnosed with MS in 2006.

"I had difficulty walking," she remembered. "I thought it was just a pinched nerve."

Not long after Beth's diagnosis, Tom began participating in the 50-mile walk. Each year he would invite his sister to join him. Her schedule didn't allow her to do so — until last year.

"I always wanted to do it," said Beth. "I had gone to the Saturday night (candlelight) program, and it was such an inspiring thing to see."

Last year, it worked out she could train for and participate in Challenge.

"I decided I would sign up for it — and I was very glad I did."

Not that it was easy: just finding the time to do the long training walks was challenging to say the least.

"It was very difficult, but I did what I could," said Beth. "I definitely wish I had trained more. I did 33 miles (of the 50); it was definitely hard but I pushed through and did what I could."

For big brother Tom, it was great having his sister walking with him.

"It was fun having her out there, trading sarcastic comments and barbs, with her always making sure to keep me humble," he laughed. "I was also very proud at the way she pushed herself past pain and mental hurdles to go farther than she even thought she could. After some stumbles over previous years, it was awesome to see that the changes in treatment were working for her and helping her physically. It gave me a boost, knowing that they are making progress and it's a battle worth fighting. Today, we can walk together for everyone fighting the disease.

The guilt for Beth is gone — replaced by something else.

"A different emotion for me — pride."

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

Brother walks for sister with MS

Written by on July 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

When Tom Keough's sister Beth was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, he admits, he felt helpless and initially handled it poorly.

In an effort to do something positive, the Milford resident signed up for a one-day Walk MS in Worcester. He was immediately inspired by all the people he met, walking and working to find a cure for the disease affecting his sister.

Then Tom heard from a friend about the Challenge Walk MS on Cape Cod, a three-day, 50-mile journey to end MS forever. He immediately joined the friend's team, Bonnie's Believers.

"I jumped on board and started looking at different ways I could fundraise for the cause," said Tom. "Meeting so many amazing people along the way has only fueled my passion, and I walk for them as much as for Beth now."

Last year was Tom's sixth Challenge Walk MS, and the first time his sister Beth could join him.

"I was really excited to have her there to experience it as a walker and to meet others who understand what she is going through," said Tom. "Since I started walking, our family has always made Challenge Walk weekend an important time of year and it was cool that she could see it from start to finish. "

Beth and Tom will walk together again in this year's walk. Tom has high hopes for the weekend and beyond.

"My hope is to meet new friends to inspire us and reconnect with old friends who are stronger than they were before, whose treatments have been successful in controlling the disease's effects," he said.

"For my baby sister, I hope that she will continue to push her limits and know that her brother has her back, no matter what she wants to do in life. I hope that we can one day celebrate a cure and know that we were a part of making that happen."

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

Start training!

Written by on July 16, 2015 at 10:34 am

Hello, Challengers!

I wanted to check in with you and see the status of your training. We are now eight weeks out from the Challenge Walk MS, and I thought I'd give you some motivational tips and information to keep you motivated!

To train correctly for this event, you need to progress slowly and listen to your body at all times. Begin by adjusting first the frequency of you walking, then the duration and finally the intensity. The essential components of a good walking program are warm-up, walk, cool-down, stretching and strength training.

Five Good Reasons to Start Walking (besides the MS Challenge Walk)

  1. Reduces cholesterol levels
  2. Decrease high blood pressure
  3. Reduces risk of heart disease
  4. Increase energy
  5. Decreases stress

Five Ways to Incorporate Walking into Your Daily Life

  1. Walk your dog (or someone else's dog — with permission, of course!)
  2. Take a pre- or post-dinner walk. This is a great time to just be by yourself or take along your family for some quality time with them!
  3. Skip the elevator and take the stairs
  4. Do errands on foot, or park in the rear of the parking lot and walk to the store
  5. Walk to work — even if you telecommute, take a half-hour each morning to do a lap around the neighborhood, ending at your "office"

Five Steps to Take to be Successful

  1. Make a commitment to yourself
  2. Reserve time in your schedule
  3. Create a habit first
  4. Establish your long and short term goals
  5. Reward yourself when you meet your goals (a new bestseller, tickets to a concert or play, etc)

Fitbit Challenge

Are you training with your Fitbit? Be sure to participate in our Fitbit Challenge by joining our Fitbit Group. Join other walkers training and walk to the number one spot!!

You should have received all your materials, if not please let me know. Keep up the hard work and check out our website for additional training information, including our training schedule guide.

Take care,

Danielle Paonessa
Development Coordinator
National MS Society

Danielle Paonessa is a development coordinator with the National MS Society. She works on four MS Walks around the Boston area and helps with the Challenge Walk. Danielle has a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and became interested in working in the non-profit industry after interning with Make-A-Wish her senior year of college.

Challenge Walk MS training and new fundraising raffle!

Written by on May 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Can you believe it? It's almost the unofficial start of summer – Memorial Day weekend is tomorrow! And really, I am so happy it is. I know we have all had a tough winter, so let's celebrate this great weather by getting out and walking!

Make sure your check out the training schedule in our guide if you have not done so yet. Next week is the start of the 18-week training schedule! Do you have a Fitbit or other step tracking device? Log your steps and use that to help you with your training this year! Be on the lookout on how tracking your training can help you win a prize on Friday night of Challenge Walk MS!

Did you hear the news? We have a Patriots Grill to raffle off and help you with your fundraising! All raffle ticket sales will go directly to your personal goal for Challenge Walk MS. For information and how to get the raffle tickets to sell, check out the "Document Downloads" section of our website or click above!

OUR IMPACT: In 2014, the National MS Society invested $50 million to support 385 research initiatives worldwide. Each year, Challenge Walk MS: Cape Cod participants and Crew members raise close to $1 million dollars. You ALL have a direct impact in the latest MS research around the world, as well as helping people with MS regionally with day-to-day programs and assistance. THANK YOU for your continued efforts in fundraising to help us get closer to a cure!

Congratulations to our Top Fundraising Teams (so far!):

  1. The Lombardi Party – $21,001
  2. Team Hurri-Kane – $6,950
  3. Team Believers – $5,845
  4. Blister Buddies – $5,170
  5. Tommy's Team – $4,440

Kudos to our Top Individual Fundraisers (so far!):

  1. Chad Matthews – $8,048
  2. Kevin Lombardi – $6,995
  3. Krista Kane – $5,625
  4. Patricia Thorpe – $5,120
  5. Tom Olafsson – $4,440

Need advice or want to talk about your fundraising? Let me know! I am here to help!

Enjoy the nice weather that we all so deserve!

Aileen is the Director of Development 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!

Why not one-day?

Written by on April 20, 2015 at 7:51 am

Challenge Walk MS on Cape Cod is seven months away! While that may seem like a long time from now it will be here before we know it. So why not start training now by participating in a one-day walk?

The Bean Team participates in the Walk MS Boston each year. This will be our 7th year! Actually we participated in the Walk MS Boston prior to getting involved with the Challenge Walk MS. It is a great event to get your friends and family involved. It may be hard to convince them to walk 50 miles in 3 days on Cape Cod but I’m sure you can convince them to walk 3 to 5 miles in a town near you.

Did you know that the National MS Society of Greater New England hosts 43 Walk MS events?

We love the Walk MS Boston because of all the energy that the participants give off at the event. There are teams of all sizes and all ages. You see a lot of dogs and babies! It is a great opportunity to get kids involved and my team has many including my two nieces who have participated since they were 17 months old and 3 months old! They are now 7 and 6 and look forward to participating every year.

Another great thing about the one-day walks is that there is no fundraising required. For those of us who participate in Challenge Walk MS we keep busy enough raising money for that. So it is nice to know you can participate in a one-day walk without the added pressure of fundraising. Some of my teammates who don’t do the Challenge Walk MS do fundraise for the Walk MS Boston, which is always welcomed!

Are you convinced yet? So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a one-day walk near you! If you participate in the Walk MS Boston look for The Bean Team!

Jodi was diagnosed with MS in 2008 and quickly got involved with the Greater New England MS Chapter. She has participated in the Boston MS Walk since 2009, with her team, The Bean Team. She has also participated in the Challenge Walk since 2010. She lives in Boston and works as a medical social worker at a local hospital.

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 Director of Development 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. 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.