Friday, May 06, 2011

Blog Rewind: March of Dimes walk

First, a huge thank you to everyone who donated to my walk for March of Dimes. Last year I raised nearly $1,000, but it had been a stretch last year and I didn't think I could reach it again, so I lowered my goal to $750.

Once again, I was humbled by people's charity. Bit by bit, dollar by dollar, I raised $822 for my walk. Just 24 hours before the walk I was still $200 short of my goal. I made a last-minute plea on my Facebook page, and was surprised and honored by:
  • The jr. high friend who donated, even though we haven't seen each other in 30 years. (She moved from my hometown before graduation.)
  • A former co-worker of mine who works in another city who donated, even though I no longer work for the company and we hadn't met in person. Ever.
  • The relative who donated for the first time.
  • Three former neighbors, two of whom moved to other states years ago, who donated.
Of these, only one would have been possible if it hadn't been for a social media network that kept us connected. A huge thank you to everyone who gave to my walk, especially my sister and mother-in-law, both of whom give so generously every year. I couldn't have done it without you.

This year I hadn't planned to actually walk: I thought I would be in sunny California, cheering my husband on as he ran the Big Sur Marathon. But alas, that trip was not to be, so I was able to continue my volunteer committee duties by showing up on the day of the walk to do whatever the staff told me to do.

Despite having been moved back a week to the first Sunday in May, walk day managed to be cold and miserable. It was 34 degrees when I left the house with a sustained 16 mph wind. I deeply regret not going back in right away to get my snowpants. I found out later that meterologists were actually using the term "windchill" for that day because of the effect of the gusting wind, which also managed to blow over one of our tents. I froze until I was numb, at which point I didn't mind the cold because I couldn't feel my ass. Happy May Day.

The volunteer committee showed up at 6:30 a.m. for an 11 a.m. walk. It seemed a little ridiculous to me, especially considering we'd had an event company come out the day before and put up the tents. Really, what could we do that would take up five and a half hours? But I dutifully showed up, fully expecting to spend long minutes in my car, keeping warm.

The first time I got to look at my watch it was nearly 9:00, at which point I did have to go to my car to log on to the laptop, write some tweets and a Facebook status update, then respond or retweet any Twitter mentions. (Greek, right?) I warmed up some, which I deeply regretted the minute I stepped back out to continue with set up, because the cold seemed even more bitter. Finally I called Wayne and asked him to come down and bring my snowpants, which I finally got around 11 o'clock. It wasn't until I had those on that I finally warmed up. Seriously, people.

Families began arriving around 10 o'clock, and I became truly amazed at these family's committment. They came in droves, pushing strollers, pulling wagons, with little ones bundled to the tip tops of their heads. Despite the miserable weather, we had close to the 4,000 expected walkers show up, and raised the $1 million the chapter was hoping to raise.

Many were families personally touched by the mission, wearing t-shirts in memory of their babies born prematurely who hadn't survived, or with pre-schoolers who wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for extraordinary care that they received after being born too soon. It was so touching to see their dedication and see their little ones, walking right along their moms and dads for the cause.

I have no pictures of my own from the day - I was too busy to take any, and my fingers too frozen to operate the camera, anyway. But it was great to experience the walk as a volunteer. I plan to be back again next year to volunteer.

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