Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons for Students

I was really nervous about the 3-Day a month ago. Really nervous. When July came, with less than 6 weeks until the Chicago event, I had not even raised $400. What if I didn't make it? I'd been training for months! I didn't want it all to be for nothing.

Have you noticed my use of the past tense? Desperation has departed and left nothing but gratitude in it's wake. In the past month I have raised about $1200 and I have two major fund raisers planned for this week. The generosity that has surrounded me in this home stretch has been amazing! I haven't hit my goal yet, but I'm only shy by about $550 and the next two fund raisers are big ones!

I'm a student and my resources are somewhat limited - to say the least. I sent out emails, made daily Facebook pleas, and planned many fund raising events - a difficult task for a team of one. But, I've learned a few lessons from my fund raising efforts and I thought I'd share them.

(I could have also called this blog "Facebook fundraising for co-eds")

1. Ask Mom and Dad. I know, I know - independence means never asking them anything ... but they money, and you don't. And their friends have money, and yours don't. My mom sent an email to her friends telling them what I was doing and I received $450 in donations!

2. So, your friends are broke and can't donate, but that doesn't mean they are off the hook! Ask them to donate sweat equity - get them to work a lemonade stand with you, or help you gather donations for a garage sale. Maybe even loan you their iPod for a training walk - a change up to your playlist can keep a walk interesting (though I am not condoning headphone use on walks ...).

3. Work your butt off - and post a million status updates chronicling that work. You might not raise a lot of money (between the garage sales and lemonade stands, I only raised $196.25), but people will see your hard work, be impressed, and understand your commitment to the cause. In my case, this led to friends telling friends about me and lots of donations. It helps if you also write numerous updates about your training walks.

4. Talk about breast cancer and how much it sucks, a lot. Honestly, the cynics probably think Pink has thrown up on my Facebook page as much as I post links and "share" breast-cancer related charities and articles. My friends now think of me whenever they see something pink!

5. Tell people WHY you are holding a fund raiser. Don't just hold a garage sale - post pink posters EVERY WHERE. Don't just have a lemonade stand, make it a pink lemonade stand and tell people the money is going to find a cure! I made my lemonade free and was just handed donations. They didn't want the lemonade, they just wanted to donate to the cause!

6. Be gracious. This should go without saying, but, alas, it must be said. Even if you are handed coins as a donations, smile and say thank you - that's one step closer, baby! Smile. Smile. SMILE! Trust me - it's worth it's weight in donations on the street.

7. Don't count yourself out until the last minute. Seriously, did you look at my chart? The majority of the money I have raised has come in the last 4 weeks! As you get closer to the date, people who said to themselves "I'll donate later" realize that "later" is now. Don't give up and keep posting your Facebook pleas.

8. Do you have a friend with a little sister or a daughter? Yeah - use them! Who can resist a little girl's flirtatious grins? They are the future after all and we want them to have a breast-cancer free future!

9. If you're in college, then you know someone in a band. Talk to them about holding a benefit gig. They know other musicians and if you're lucky - you've got a benefit on your hands! Seriously that's one of the big fundraisers I have coming up. Check it out. My neighbors are in band and when I approached them about a benefit concert they didn't even think about it - they just started nodding (the cool name of the benefit helped) and then spent the next weekend finding a venue and getting their friends involved. When we sent out the Facebook invite it went to more than 1750 people!!!

9a. Even if they don't know a lot of other bands, they can still dedicate a gig to you. One of my friends, Tater of Tater and the Gravy Train is doing that - and told his Facebook fans (seriously, good musicians have lots of fans!) that he is making a $250 dollar donation to me!

10. If you plead the cause well, you may find that those friends who can donate might just do it more than once. I have a few friends who threw $10 my way whenever they found they had it to spare - usually around the time student loans were disbursed. Go back to #s 6 and 7 - if you give your friends grief about "only" donating a little then they most likely won't donate anymore! But if you treat a $5 donation like a $500 donation then I bet you'll see a repeat from them.

The 3-Day is a huge commitment. Not only does your choice to participate affect you, but it affects your friends and family as well. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of doing the 3-Day - it was the best decision I've ever made. However, before you sign up, think long and hard about your ability to put in the time and effort it takes to train and raise the money. Had my event not worked out with my school schedule (and it's a miracle it did because I didn't even check when I registered!), I wouldn't have been able to train OR raise funds! It's ok to wait until you graduate - at least then you will have coworkers you can beg!

Until then, there are many other ways to be involved: You can volunteer at the 3-Day, help a team in training raise funds, or check out another Susan G. Komen event. There are many Susan G. Komen events you can join that don't take the time commitment that the 3-Day requires. Do what is right for you so that you can represent yourself, your school and the Susan G. Komen charity in the best way possible!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In case we needed even more inspiration

Following the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Facebook page usually provides a lot of inspiration - but nothing like the what I felt this weekend as the photos from Boston were posted. Some of the photos calmed my fears ... one brought tears to my eyes ... and the others just got me uber excited for Chicago!

It's so close I can taste it as clearly as I can taste the coffee I'm drinking.

When I signed up for the 3-Day I didn't realize how much inspiration was involved. Sure, I was inspired to do something in the name of my boyfriend's mother.

Along the way, however, I have found so many separate sources of inspiration!

The woman I met on a training walk last month who happened to be wearing a 3-Day hat ... Turns out she is a survivor and she's walked before. She gave me a great pep talk that carried me through the next few weeks of solitary training walks.

The woman I blogged about a couple of weeks ago who just wouldn't give up ... though she's earned the right to stop, in my opinion ...

The photos from Boston ...

The friends I didn't even know I had who have jumped on board to support my efforts ...

The pink flowers planted along my walking routes ...

But now, I've finished the longest walks of my training regimen, have raised almost 75% of the money I need, have several fundraisers in line for the final weekend, and all I can think about is that fact that it's almost here! I didn't need any extra inspiration - in fact, I wouldn't have thought it possible to get any more inspired. Seeing the smiles on the faces in Boston, however, did it. I am so blessed to be part of such an amazing experience. And each step I take in Chicago will be an inspired one.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fight cancer without risking cancer

Here are words I CANNOT say to anyone in this universe enough: WEAR SUNSCREEN.

As a fair-skinned, auburn-headed individual, I am sensitive to the issue. However, everyone, no matter your complexion, should take care of your skin!

I'm not always the best about reapplication of sunscreen. For some reason, I tend to forget I'm a red-head and need sunscreen like most people need oxygen. And this is what I end up with ...

I'm making it my #2 cause during the 3-Day. In fact, if you are in Chicago with me next month and I think you need it, I will probably offer to help you with sunscreen! How silly would it be to end up with skin cancer because you didn't take care while trying to end breast cancer????

With the recent heat indexes being national news, it's easy to remember sunscreen when walking. But this is also important on overcast days! Seriously. The sun is still casting out those UVs and they are, as always, in attack mode.

As far as sunscreen goes: Use the CDC recommends SPF 15 or higher. Most shirts provide less than SPF 15 protection, so put sun screen on under them. Darker shirts provide more UV protection, but can also make you feel hotter.

Despite popular belief, a tan is not a sign of health. It's an injury! When UV rays get inside the skin, the skin makes more melanin - the pigment that colors the skin. That melanin moves toward the outer layers of the skin and becomes visible as a tan. That tan is your skin cells signaling that they have been hurt by the sun's UV rays.

It's not practical for us to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while walking - but it is practical to wear sunscreen - and look out for each other. If we get burned on Day 1, can you imagine how much harder Days 2 & 3 will be?

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
- Baz Luhrmann: Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Here are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control:
* Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
* Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
* Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
* Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
* Seek shade, especially during midday hours.

Monday, July 12, 2010

3-Day inspiration in 13's perspiration

I volunteered to run an aid station for a 15m/50k ultra run (runners could choose between one lap at 15 miles or 2 making it a 50k) this weekend. At first, I was disappointed to be missing my training walk, but by the end of the day I felt so blessed by what I'd witnessed that I can't imagine a training walk being a better way to prepare for the 3-Day.

Ultrarunners are incredible. I was amazed by the physical prowess, insane determination and overall dedication to athleticism that I saw on display. But, mostly, I was impressed by the slowest "runner" out there: Number 13.

You see, Number 13 was the last one to visit our Aid Station at mile 5 - more than 3 hours into the race. In fact, several runners had passed by our station a second time before 13 showed up.

I could see right away that she was having problems. I walked out from my shady pavilion and met her beneath a tree. She was ashen, but talking lucidly. She was complaining about the course - a rocky trail that involved climbing up muddy inclines using ropes at some places. Having run marathons before, she was shocked at the difficulty she was having.

But what shocked me was that she was no spring chicken. In fact, I later found out, she was 63 years young.

I'd be lying if I said we weren't worried about her. She'd been out in the heat for hours and only had a small water bottle. Plus, it was obvious she wasn't prepared for the physical challenge she had undertaken.

But it was when I heard her mutter under her breath, "If cancer can't stop me, this can't" that I melted for her and became her silent cheerleader. I also understood the stubbornness that made her bark at us every time we tried to talk her into sitting, resting, and quitting.

We talked her into sitting and resting, but the quitting part was a much harder sale.

Once she had rested a bit, she looked up at me, read the "End Breast Cancer" shirt I was wearing and told me that she was a survivor.


At that moment I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

It wasn't until later, after we cleared her to continue on the trail (the next aid station was about 2 miles away and we let them know to keep an eye out for her) that her friend told me the real motivation behind Number 13. She lost her daughter this past year and her daughter had registered for the run. Number 13 was doing it for her.

She finished too - and not even in last place! I was thrilled when I learned that.

I am still so overwhelmed when I think about all this woman has survived. And she still sets out to prove things! After all she had endured, shouldn't she be the one we are doing things for?

Number 13, feel free to rest - you've earned it! This walk's for you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wanna walk

I am so bummed!

A month or so ago I volunteered to help out at a local race because it is my dream to join the runner's world one day and I wasn't thinking about my schedule, I was just thinking it would be awesome to watch someone run 30 miles as motivation.

You know, when it's so darn hot you can barely stand it but you still have 9 miles to walk? Well, ultrarunners RUN more than 20 miles in a day. Then they get up and do it again the next day. Like us - only faster and possibly more in shape (though I have plenty of arguments in our favor!).

Anyway, the run falls on my 18/15 weekend and I am super bummed. I can't miss the run because they are counting on the volunteers. But I have been looking forward to this weekend!

I have really grown to love my long walks. I love the pride I feel when I finish them. I love the peace in my mind as I turn it off and just listen to whatever audio book is on my iPhone. I love discovering the little treasures my city offers me as I stroll the streets.

And missing the walks has me bummed. Maybe I can do 18 on Sunday and try to squeeze 15 in on Monday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heartfelt gratitude

I believe in what we are doing with all of my heart.

I support anything that will help rid our world of breast cancer (any cancer, for that matter).

I believe a cure is on it's way.

I'm proud to be part of the solution.

But I hate fundraising.

I'm sorry to say it out loud, but it's true. I feel icky inside every time I post another message begging for money - even though it goes to such an amazing cause. I've done it so often at this point that I'm sure most of my Facebook friends have hidden me and those who haven't are two seconds away from pushing that button.

I am more comfortable working for the money I raise. Garage sales, lemonade stands, portrait sessions - anything but flat out asking for cash. But, so far, the begging is what has made the difference. My garage sale raised $122. My lemonade stand raised $12 (rainy day), and my portraits have raised $50. But between training, school and, well, breathing, there just isn't enough time.

I've seen it written a hundred times now - the fundraising is the hardest part of this challenge - and it truly, truly is. This is a scary time to ask people for money. The economy is yucky and most of my friends are in school living on loans.

But I keep doing it, no matter what it does to my insides, because when I see another friend has donated it warms my heart and my faith is renewed. Because I love calling my boyfriend to tell him about the latest person who showed they care about what his mother has endured.

Because I believe in what we are doing with all my heart.

And I believe in my friends.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I am ecstatic to announce that I am officially walking for a SURVIVOR!

Pathology results this week show that my boyfriend's mother has beaten breast cancer!!!!

I thank all of my loved ones for their support and prayers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Climb every mountain

An amazing part of this 3-Day journey for me has been the success I feel each week.

When I first walked 10 miles, I was excited. When I walked 15, I was thrilled and when I walked 17 miles last Sunday, I was ecstatic.

As I train for the 3-Day, I keep climbing mountains and reaching new heights!

I reached a new one today, too.

Because of various fundraisers and final exams, I haven't been able to devote both weekend days to training walks. While I've been adding distance one day each week, I'm behind in my multiple-day endurance training. Since the schedule called for 10/6 this weekend and I found myself with two open days in a row, I altered the plan and walked 12/10 instead - and had lots of energy left over!

I feel ready for next weekend's mountain: 18/15.

Now, if only I can carve out the time ...