Happy I committed. Happy to be involved. Happy to finish too. Amazing experience. One I'll remember my whole life.
Why were you inspired to do this?
I wanted to get involved with this project for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was inspired by my friend Sarah's story. She lost her mother and grandmother to Breast Cancer within a very short time and became involved in a similar event every year since. I admired her commitment and drive and remember thinking I'd like to do something along those lines too. A couple of years passed and my very young busy family kept me from getting involved until I was indirectly personally affected. My sister-in-law and close friend both faced the disease and are fighting as I write this. I convinced my hsuband that it was time for me to do something - it was on my heart, had been on my list for years and now was the time to get involved with something extraordinary. The Weekend to End Breast Cancer is sixty kilometer walk to raise funds for the Campbell Family Institue at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. All proceeds benefit Breast Cancer patients and survivorship programs and are used for research in developing a cure.
What were 3 things you did to make this happen?
I needed to get the support of my family first. Being away from my young children for two or three days puts a good deal of stress on my husband as we do not have relatives living close by. My children are 7, 6 and twin 4 year olds and are still very high-maintenance and very active.
The minimum fundraising amount to be involved in this event was $2,000. I really wanted to challenge myself, so I set my goal at double that amount figuring that if I missed the goal, I'd land somewhere in between and still surpass the minimum requirement. Beginning to request financial support was scary for me. I needed to get into the mindset that by asking everyone I knew to support my efforts, I'd be giving them an opportuntity to make a small difference too. I decided I'd contact everyone I knew and give them the chance to help out. I needed to make a list (you're laughing now, right.) but seriously... I made a list of absolutely everyone from all facets of my life and categrized them - family, friends, neighbours/former neighbours, acquaintences, co-workers/former co-workers, classmates from each school I'd ever attended and any courses I'd been on, sorority sisters, business associates - past and present. Having already started a social network on Facebook, I was a little ahead of the game, but many people had to be contacted outside of that network. Then I drafted a generic note expressing why I was getting involved in this challenging event and requested their support. I sent out the note to each person individually with a personal message. I figured that if I didn't ask, the answer would always be "no." I knew I couldn't do this alone either - my husband would contribute one donation and said I was on my own for the rest. I had to make it work once I'd registered.
I needed to get into better physical condition. Back to back pregnancies (all my children were born within three years and three months) and extended nursing left my post baby body in a sorry sorry state and that absolutely positively needed to change. I put together a 'healthy eating' plan and weekly training schedue and managed to shed 47 pounds before the weekend walk of sixty kilometres. I felt more fit and energetic and looked a whole lot better, but my ultimate weight goal remains unattained at this time. It's something I'm working towards presently.
How did you feel once you had accomplished this?
I really did have to stretch beyond my comfort zone to begin moving toward both the fundraising goal and the weight goal. It meant actually contacting people and asking them to support my efforts with a monetary donation. The first donation I received aside from my husband (I still remember who it was) came from an acquaintence (not even a close friend) from my first high school! Amazing. I was absolutely over the moon. I playfully punched my husband in the arm and said "See, it's working..." (almost in disbelief). I was so excited.
I was excited as well to see that my late night love affair with my elliptical trainer was paying off too. Having young children to care for meant that the only time I could work out and fundraise was after they were sleeping. Following a controlled diet plan and cutting out any snacking past dinner also helped. Progress seemed agonizingly slow, but I would not be discouraged. As the weight began to come off, I began to feel more energetic, less crabby and more confident. I was definitely a happier person with a purpose and a plan.
This journey was phenomenal for other reasons too. The responses I received for getting involved as well as becoming more healthy were incredible. At this point, I actually weigh less than I did when I became pregnant for the first time.
It absolutely amazed me how people were so willing to help me and where sponsorship came from. Donations were made from people I hadn't spoken to in over two decades yet they were willing to offer support for this cause. So many friends, relatives and acquaintences had incredible stories to tell me too - some of triumph and sadly, others of tragedy but invariably, people were willing to help - either with a donation or their encouragement or support in other ways. In the end, I did not reach the full $4,000 I set out to raise, but I did manage to pull together $3,555.00 and I am so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. Without their support, I could not have particiated in such an incredible event. So off I went to walk the sixty kilometers through the streets of Toronto over a two day period. Collectively, 4,616 walkers raised over $11,600,000 which undoubtedly will be put to good use by Campbell Family Institute.
Additional notes and tips:
I tried to begin fundraising early, as in - right away. I didn't want to be scrambling to meet the minimum requirement as the event was fast approaching.
I put everyone I could possibly think of on the list. I swore I'd at least send them an initial request for support. I found that often people wanted to contribute to a worthy cause and simply can't make the time commitment but were happy to support someone who did. Once I took the leap and got involved, I had to put the work in to make it work.
I hit the minimum requirement surprisingly quickly, but I didn't give up on my original goal of double that amount. I had to come up with a creative way to remind people to pledge their donation without really hounding them. I starting a "Pledge Incentive Program" and approached local business to support my cause with a donation of a prize. Again stretching beyond my comfort zone, I also contacted friends who might consider supporting my efforts by donating a prize. Having 'prizes' donated to be raffled off gave me a way to promote the event in a fun and 'unbothersome' way. Every time a new prize was received for the program, I'd send out a note or a posting advising eveyone on the list what they are eligable to win. The prizes that were donated for the program were awesome and for every $10 pledged, a donar would receive a ballot for the draw. I began drawing names for the pizes as I got closer to the event. As each winner was drawn, a posting went out announcing the name and effectively sending another indirect reminder that the event was coming up, that there were still prizes up for grabs and the time for pledging was drawing to a close. Once again, I was suprised by the incredible response. Authors and speakers donated signed copies of their books, Local restaurants and spas donated gift certificates. A nearby Karate school donated two VIP passes for lessons for a month and outfits. It was a moving experience.
It's easy to get involved in something phenomenal like this event was - the experience was life-changing and absolutely worth the time and effort. There are all kinds of fundraisers for worthy causes. If becoming directly involved is impossible, consider supporting someone who has.