Why do you walk?
I started to participate in the Fort Bend Walk to End Alzheimer’s with my friend, Mara, in 2007. That walk came at an important time for me because my mom died in late September 2007 from Alzheimer’s disease and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (from smoking way too many cigarettes for far too long). My mom began suffering from memory loss around 2002 and was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005. At the time of the Fort Bend walk, it felt like I was doing something proactive to fight the disease and memorialize my mom. My participation also gave people who knew my mom a chance to make a donation in her memory. (Our family didn’t hold a burial service, instead opting to follow Mom’s wishes of being cremated and having her ashes strewn in the Colorado Rockies.)┬á I’ve stayed involved in the walk and have added my maternal grandmother, who had undiagnosed dementia, and Don, who is a family friend who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, to the list of those I honor by walking.
What are your fundraising tips?
I think the most important thing is to just ask people if they’ll financially support your participation in the walk. Almost everyone says “yes.ΓÇ¥ I try to make it clear to family members and friends that they can contribute whatever is right for their budget, so I’ve been fortunate enough to receive donations ranging from $10 to $300. I also try to really personalize the emails that I send to people. I share stories about my mom or put an eye-catching statistic right at the top to get people’s attention. I also send multiple emails to family members and friends starting in the summer since some opt to donate right away while others wait until just before the walk. Finally, I try to use Facebook to publicize my participation in the walk to encourage friends who I don’t see on a regular basis to contribute.
What is your favorite thing about the Walk?
I really enjoy getting a chance to participate in the Brain Matters team. It’s a great group of folks and we have a good time. Last year, one of our members told me that her mother had recently shared that she had Alzheimer’s disease, so it made the 2010 event all the more poignant. Many of our team members bring their dogs, so we have our own version of a pup parade. And it’s nice to get a chance to catch up with other folks who I’ve met at earlier Alzheimer’s walks.
What is your Walk goal for 2011?
I have multiple goals. Obviously, it would be nice to raise as much if not more money as last year. Equally important in my mind is getting more family members and friends to donate. My other major goal is to continue to increase the number of participants on our Brain Matters team. I can think of few things better than spending time outdoors with a group of good friends who are working together toward a common cause.