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Challenge friends

Written by on August 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm

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.

The hardest part

Written by on May 20, 2009 at 11:57 am

The other day, one of my friends asked me what the hardest part of the Challenge Walk was, and, she added, "you have to tell me in one word." I knew what she was expecting my answer to be. After all, walking fifty miles is no piece of cake. And I am no athlete.
"Asking," I said.

Her eyebrows lifted. "Asking?"

I nodded. "Asking for money is the hardest part of all."

Soliciting donations in a terrible economy can be a daunting task. And for people involved with the Challenge Walk, asking for money is likely not a one-time thing. So how to you raise the $1,500 minimum, not just in year one, but in years two, three, four, five?

  1. Relationships count. Don't hesitate to email, call or write to families and friends. They love you and want to support you. Asking them for contributions includes them in your challenge. They have a vested interest in seeing you succeed.
  2. Explain why you need the money. Tell people not only about the Challenge Walk, but about the people it benefits: direct services, programming and grants. Make it personal.
  3. Partner with another group. Speak at a Rotary, Lions or Kiowans meeting and offer to "partner" with them on an event. By sharing the workload and splitting the ticket sales, both groups will benefit.
  4. Acknowledge every gift. "Thank you" isn't said enough. Say it often!
  5. Consider in-kind services. If an acquaintance isn't able to support you financially this year, consider asking him or her for for an in-kind donation.

Asking for money is never easy, but know this: the people living with MS thank you. Over and over again.

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.