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Upstate New York Challenge Walkers

Written by on Oct 21, 2011

Cape Cod MS Challenge Walk participants from upstate New York were highlighted in the MS Connections article, "50 Miles for MS" that appeared in the Upstate New York Chapter MS Connection newsletter.

Congratulations to teams The Hot Pack, Albany Angels, Wellness Crew, and Seize The Dej, and walkers John Henderson and Beth Farrell! And thank you to everyone who travels to Cape Cod to participate in the MS Challenge Walk. We appreciate everything you do to make our event a success and look forward to seeing you in 2012!

Danielle was a Development Manager for the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society, managing MS Challenge Walk 2011 and 2012. Prior to joining the staff of the National MS Society, Danielle served as a crew team captain during the 2009 and 2010 MS Challenge Walks.

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.