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Walking with friends

Written by on Jun 25, 2010

Friends walking

You're not in this alone!

Training is not easy for me. Lack of time and fatigue are big reasons why I find it so difficult to commit to a regular training schedule. This year, though, I'm approaching training differently: I'm walking with friends. We walk at lunch time, after work and on weekends. The walk group isn't always the same. Some days, there are five or six of us walking, other days, just one or two. It doesn't matter how many of us are walking together, the result is always the same: we laugh, talk and the miles fly by.

If training is difficult for you, consider forming a walk group of co-workers, friends and family. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to train!

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.

Challenge friends

Written by on Aug 12, 2009

Hard to believe that we have only a month to go!  I can tell that the Walk is coming up soon: things are starting to ramp up more and more each day. I've been going back and forth with other crew members on what costumes they are wearing, if we have costumes to share, and the other fun items we may be bringing along.  I'm getting excited!

Although the primary focus of the Walk is to raise money to help defeat MS, it is so much more.  It helps bring people with a common goal together, and the friendships that result are long-lasting and fulfilling.  The year of the first MS Challenge Walk Walk, I went to the kick-off celebration.  I really didn't know many people there and was hanging out by the wall while different things were being explained and discussed by staff members.  Not too far from me was another girl, Brandy, who looked about as uncomfortable as I felt. She too was there by herself and didn't know anyone.  We started talking, and I asked her where she was staying the night before the walk.  Back then, the walk started in Plymouth, and she was planning on driving in from north of  Boston.  I didn't like the sound of that and, trusting person that I am, asked her to come stay at my house and we would drive over together in the AM.  I know she was a complete stranger, but all these years later, we are still good friends, and she danced at my wedding not that long ago.  And we still bunk together every year!

Those are the types of friends you will make at this event: Friends you want to share the other big events in your life with.  Friends who are there for you and understand why you are fighting the fight.  That is because they are right there fighting alongside you.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Written by on May 8, 2009

One of the most difficult and most rewarding aspects of our family's first Challenge Walk was the process of actually asking for money. It seems strange that we should be nervous about asking others to give to a charity, but for us, it was difficult.  We felt that our struggles were private and personal, we are after all New Englanders (renowned for our extroverted nature).

When we began the fundraising process, we decided to keep it simple: we would send letters to our family and friends asking them to help fight a disease which had struck our brother (actually my brother-in-law, but after all these years of dating and being married to his sister, he is my brother Gordy). As we went through the list of those we might send our letters to, we began making excuses for why we  shouldn't ask certain people. "They don't have a lot of money," " I don't know them well enough," or "He's just cheap" were ways of disqualifying them from our list. There were inevitably those that we doubted but decided to send anyway.

When our responses started coming back, we had what I consider one of the most powerful moments in our Challenge Walk experience. Many of them said things like "Thank you for considering us part of your friends and family," "We too have a family member with MS," and "What else can we do to help?" We not only brought in more than we thought we would; we expanded our team. Some of our friends and extended family decided to walk and send letters to their friends. Soon, we didn't just have a few siblings and spouses walking — we had a team that spanned the length and breadth of the United States. Gordon's Team was born.

We learned so much that first year, not only about how far we can walk on blisters, or how nice it is to put the cell phone down for three days, or that after twenty miles, a foot soak is pure bliss. We learned that so many people want to help, want to feel connected to someone on a personal level. When the response from "He's just cheap" came back to, our surprise it not only contained a check for $10 (every bit counts!), but a note that read "Thank you for allowing me to contribute to your lives."

Now, every April vacation, my wife Kim creates the Gordon's Team Newsletter and donation request filled with info and photos about Gordon himself and the activities of our team. We make sure that we send it to everyone we know whether they are friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances. We no longer discuss why someone won't help; we just assume the best.

Our little story comes with a word of advice: don't be surprised if some people don't respond. That's OK too, two of my three siblings have never donated to our team. I don't question why, as everyone has their own story, but I send them a letter every year just in case.

This is truly a Challenge Walk. We are challenged to believe in ourselves and more importantly to have faith in others. Keep the faith, and allow people to contribute to your life: it not only helps the cause, but you will feel better about the world and yourself.

Tim is a member of Gordon's Team, named for his brother-in-law, Gordon Mellis. Tim signed up for the Challenge Blog in the hope that his story is both personal and at the same time common enough to be useful to others.