A Guest Blog Post By Sundee Lewis
“Probably our biggest mistake was to not set our fundraising goal high enough. As first time fundraisers, we thought we could realistically bring in $2000. We were pleasantly surprised when we far surpassed that number.”
Our father was diagnosed with MSA a year and a half ago and all of us (my mother, my 3 sisters and their husbands, my teenage brother and myself and husband) were all heart-broken by the news. Our father was a very active, healthy, successful 57-year old. He was a man who water skied, snow skied and ran half marathons not a man that was going to lose his ability to walk, talk and function. Needless to say, we were devastated.
After our initial reaction, research and realization that we could do nothing for our father medically, we made the decision that we needed to do something. We decided that because of our father’s love for running we would organize a small fun run to support the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition. That “small” fun run turned out to be an amazing event that as one participant posted on face book said, “A great event this morning to honor a saint of a man and to increase awareness of the disease that has become the cause of his family and friends. We love you Williams family!!”
So how did we succeed?
To be honest a lot of it had to do with faith, answers to prayers, hard work and networking.
Brainstorm and plan
We began in July of this year to talk to other people who had done fundraisers to get ideas of what steps we might need to take (like getting a permit from the city to have the race and getting event insurance.) We also talked to the high school varsity football team to see if they would be involved and they gave us the suggestion of putting together an obstacle course and getting sponsors for each obstacle.
Once we settled on the format of the fundraiser we began advertising by making a face book page, putting together a website and using twitter to spread the word.
We also created an informational flyer about our event (with participation and event registration details) and received brochures about multiple system atrophy from the MSA Coalition. We had friends hand deliver the flyers and brochures to people in our neighborhood and church community and then we placed them in local gyms and doctors’ offices. My sisters set up tables at the varsity football games to get people registered for the event.
While we developed our own event website, if you don’t have the expertise you can set up an online fundraising events for the MSA Coalition on CrowdRise to coincide with your event. You can also help fundraise for the MSA Coalition during the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge (December 1, 2015 – January 7, 2016).
Get businesses to sponsor your event
Another blessing was working with my brother-in-law’s employer Ameriben. This company of 600 employees took up our cause and encouraged it’s employees to participate, donate and volunteer for our event in addition to donating $2000 from the company. So, all of us began asking friends and families who owned businesses (insurance agents, dentists, doctors, CPA’s, financial planners, real estate agents, essential oil manufacturers) to sponsor our obstacles. We were amazed by the response and how willing people were to donate $500-$1000 each.
We also reached out to our church community and local neighborhood.
Network, Network, Network
All of us worked hard to share what was going on through social media and emailing our friends and family. We were blessed to have that information forwarded to others through our friends/family. Our mom, who has been a water aerobics instructor for twenty years at the local YMCA, sent an email to all of her water aerobics friends, which totaled over 300 people and included the governor of Idaho’s wife.
Our teenage brother was interviewed on the local news as a member of his high school’s football team and talked about the event. We invited all of the other high schools in the area to bring their football teams to compete in the obstacle course and to donate $250. Four schools brought their teams and we raised another $1000 that way.
Be passionate and fearless!!!
Of course there are many more details of how we actually pulled off this event, but in the end it comes down to the fact that all of us passionately promoted our cause. We are firm believers in raising awareness and money to fight this disease that has changed our world and are not afraid to ask any and everyone to help us in this cause.
A huge success
Probably our biggest mistake was to not set our fundraising goal high enough. As first time fundraisers, we thought we could realistically bring in $2000. We were pleasantly surprised when we far surpassed that number.
In the end we raised over $15,000 with $8000 from corporate donations, $4000 from individual donations and the remaining money from our 400 participants.
Make it an annual event
We plan to do this annually and hope to see it grow, but even if we just raise $2000 next year, we know that we are making a difference in the fight to raise awareness and find a cure for Multiple System Atrophy.
We are so grateful for the generosity of the people of Boise and our dear friends and family all over the United States.