From the first contact with the Digestive Health Alliance and requesting the help of my dearest friends, help was all around.
By 9:30, we all arrived and began setting up at the farmers market downtown. There were already a few participants there and ready to go, including Carla, who not only volunteers with G-PACT and traveled from the Seattle area, but actually recovered and is now GP free! What an inspiration!!!
A group of dedicated volunteers met with me every 2-4 weeks, brainstorming ideas on letters to sponsors, auction prizes, press release, promotion, supplies, set-up and much more. On the morning of the walk, after a restless night of sleep from excitement, everyone showed up bright and early, ready to go! The lovely GoMacro Checkpoint ladies prepared and packed bite size samples of Macrobars, my husband and a few of the guys on our team loaded the truck with tables, chairs and heavy supplies, while others helped me sort and designate boxes of t-shirts, prizes and handouts.
Before I knew it, people were passing by, asking questions and bidding on the auction. I barely had time to help put things together but the volunteers quickly made it happen, leaving me with nothing to worry about and time to educate and learn from others. More from the Seattle area showed up, including 2 other GP'ers and supporters of this blog/FB page, Maggie and Mechele. What a treat to finally meet everyone face to face!
At noon, everyone cheered as the walk for awareness began. The energy in the air was beaming with excitement as we headed down the shady interurban trail towards the the bay at Boulevard park. As we got near the checkpoint, a very interesting interaction occurred. A man riding his bike slowed down to our pace, letting us know about his daughter of 15 who has gastroparesis. He lives in Philadelphia and just happened to be visiting. Here is the crazy part, he has helped raise $5 million to go towards research through the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility! We exchanged contact information and look forward to learning more about their progress.
As we crossed the railroad tracks and met the bright blue waters of the bay, we were greeted by Lindsey and Alyssa at the checkpoint with smiles and snacks.
Everyone gathered for a group picture and some time to sit in the sun and refresh. The weather could not have been more perfect, 80 degrees, sunny and no wind. Already, walkers were talking about looking forward to next year's event!
The stroll back went quickly as we all got to know each other better and enjoyed the company. When we returned, there were plenty of passerby's checking out the booth and bidding on items. Volunteers Angi, Michelle and Stephanie kept busy taking donations and educating those not familiar with GP. My husband Trevor and friend Bryan took some of these amazing photos. Our puppy, Luna, turned out to be quite the little star herself, attracting many people to stop by and check us out!
Before we knew it, it was time to close the bids and start breaking down. Again, volunteers to the rescue, leaving me with little to do but talk with others while they did the work. I exchanged numbers and email addresses with those to stay in touch with as we hugged and cheered about the how wonderful it was to be a part of something helping to make a difference. Even if we educated only one person who didn't understand how serious this illness is, it would have been worth every moment. However, we reached out to so many, both locally and afar. Money raised so far has totaled over $3,000 and still coming in! I've received a number of emails, both from participants and sponsors, thanking us for our efforts and excitement for next year. Most of all, it feels wonderful to be a fundraiser and help make a difference, both for myself and everyone out there who lives with gastroparesis.
If you are interested in hosting a walk yourself next September please email me so I can add you to my contact list for the spring review. The goal is to make this not only annual but to spread the word nationwide.
A HUGE THANK YOU to my volunteers:
Trevor - My husband for your loving support, hard work and patience
Bryan - Amazing t-shirt and flyer designs!
Lovely Ladies - Lindsay, Stephanie, Michelle, Sue, Angi and Alyssa: Too many things to list to thank you for...pretty much everything involved from the very beginning :)
Susan (from DHA) - Daily emails, detailed outlines and awesome support
Dad - Flying out here to be a part of the walk, your interest and being so cool!
Mom - A lifetime of support and encouragement, oxox