Thursday, March 20, 2008

Organizing a Great Strides Walk

So, here's the story of how our Great Strides Walk came to be.

Tricia's family has been participating in a Great Strides walk in April/May in Medford, NJ every year since Tricia was in elementary school.

In 2002, about a year after we started dating, I joined their team, and through 2006, Tricia and I participated with about 20 of our family members.

After we were married in 2004, I began to have a desire to become more actively involved in these events, but it was difficult because we were still attending the walk in NJ. There were two walks very near Portsmouth, VA (where we lived our first two years of marriage), but it was more practical for Tricia and I to drive to NJ than it was for most of her family to come down to us.

A few months after moving to Nags Head in June of 2006, I contacted the national CFF via email, asking about how I could help start a Great Strides Walk somewhere on the OBX. The nearest walks at that time were in Chesapeake, VA and Raleigh, NC.

My goal was to help organize an event and get the ball rolling that first year, and hope that somebody else would pick up the ball and take over for future years. A few days later, I received an email from Jane at the Raleigh CFF office. We set up a meeting for a few weeks later when Tricia and I would be visiting Duke.

Jane explained everything that would be involved, and we agreed to go for it. We were placed under the guidance of Sophia Olson of the Raleigh CFF, and Tricia and I began recruiting family and friends to help us. We set a goal of $15,000, which later became $20,000. Sophia provided us with all of the resources and ideas and help that we needed (and, she has become a good friend as well!).

We got a later start than most, and had our kick-off party in January of 2007. By the time of the walk, we had about 30 people on board helping out. We got our local newspaper involved, publishing pictures and even a few stories about Tricia and the walk. We used local radio as well. We received several large money, food and drink donations from large corporate sponsors.

The day of the event basically looked like this:

> Check-in/Registration
> Free breakfast provided by a local restaurant
> Games and activities for children
> Raffle involving over 75 items
> Free pizza, subs, drinks, frozen custard, candy, etc.
> A 1 mile walk that lasted about 45 minutes.
> A live DJ for music and announements
> Plenty of open space to hang out and play

The even officially went from 9am to 1pm, and despite some sketchy-looking but perfect weather, we guestimated that 150 to 200 people stopped by for at least part of the event. We raised over $30,000.

Every walk is different, although, I'm sure, every event is just as fun. This year, our friends and family back home are organizing the September 13 walk without us, and Seth Soria's family and friends are organizing a similar walk in Elizabeth City on the same date.

Again, if you want more info in organizing a Great Strides Walk or other CF Event in your area, please Contact the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Most walks are taking place in the next 2-3 months, so sign up today and help us make Great Strides in finding a cure for CF!




Sarah H. said...

Hi Nate!!

My comment doesn't really have anything to do with the post but I wanted to say that I am a genetic counseling student, and another genetic counselor friend of mine has been working at a CF clinic in Charleston, SC for patients of all ages-- and said some of her patients mentioned your blog! She didn't really know what they were talking about but I gave her your blog address to fill her in. I have also given several patients your web page when appropriate. Not only does it help patients, your blog helps us genetic counselors learn more about what goes on when someone has CF (Genetics is just a slice in the life for many patients!)and I love knowing more of the story. When we offer "routine" CF carrier screening for couples who want to conceive or who are already pregnant--I now feel more prepared to give an accurate description of CF.

Another side note--my husband and I are moving to Chesapeake or Virginia Beach in May--any good Church recommendations??


Cindy said...

I've done our local Great Strides walk for 12 consecutive years! (I've always had to walk 6 miles though!) It's a lot of FUN and very rewarding. I encourage anyone out there to get involved in one. Its a worthy cause, and CFF has to raise many of their own funds for research as CF isn't as "common" a disease, so drug companies invest more into cancer, heart research, etc. Those are tremendously worthy causes as well though, don't get me wrong!


Rick Lawrenson said...

We had our intital debriefing meeting today. The ball is rolling!

The meeting was at Basnight's and Thursday is ribs day. So you know what I ate. Andy ate a salad and is already hungry. I won't eat again until Saturday.

twin power mommy ♥ said...

we do a similar walk every year for the march of dimes, march for babies. being that the girls were so preemie, i feel a tugging to raise money for that particular charity. I am glad you guys get that many people for your team to walk. how awesome is that!?
thanks for sharing the info with us!:)

Lil' Chris' Mom said...

Wow Nate, I think you just changed the rest of our life with this post. I have a 9 month old boy with CF. This will be our first Great Srides walk this year. I've been wanting to start a walk in my town b/c it is hard to get people to travel 30-40 miles with the gas prices these days. I actually called a number weeks ago, and they said it wasn't possible for this year. But thanks to you with that contact link, I called and talked to the right person. He said that they have been wanting to do a walk in my town, but they don't have a list of who has CF in every town or anything. They had no one to contact. He said that most walks start by someone (like myself) calling in and asking to start one in a certain area. He is going to call me on Monday to get more info. He is also sending me a packet with lots of info and tips.
I wasn't expecting to be able to do one this year, but he said it is definitely possible. Maybe in June or even September.
So, to everyone out there, it is that easy to get it started. It's just a phone call away. And here is a tip for everyone, Kohl's department stores will donate $500 if they get at least 5 associates to walk. They call it an A Team event, to help out the community. They have to do so many A Team events each year, so why not Great Strides! I'm going to try to get as many Kohl's stores involved as I can. $500 is $500 even if they're not actually sponsoring me for my walk. It all goes to the same place(to help find a cure for my son). I'm sure other stores do similar things too.
Thanks again Nate. I forsee many Great Stride walks in my future here in my town, thanks to you. And thanks for inspiring my sister and I to create our own blog to bring awareness to CF and to tell our story. And I plan on using it as a diary of Lil' Chris' life too, no matter how long it is, it's gonna be a great one with God on our side :)
Check it out, we are just getting started ;)

sherl said...

Hi - I came upon your site as a January mommy who has been following Joshua Sam's story.

I live in Marlton, NJ - just next to Medford. When is their walk? In a way, if I walk, I feel like it will be for Gwyneth and Joshua. TY and best wishes.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the overview of how you got involved in organizing Great Strides. It's always interesting to learn how others go about trying to organize CF events via CFF.

How did you approach your CFF chapter with your idea? Do you think they were receptive because it was an event they already participate in?

The reason I'm curious is because my fiance and I are interested in learning what is the key to a successful CF event. Last summer, he did a bike ride from Seattle to Ft. Worth ( with the goal of getting help publicizing the ride from our CFF chapter (to no avail).

We would like to continue doing CF fundraising and would be very appreciative of your advice from your experience. Thanks.

As always, wishing Tricia and Gweneth the best! :)