This blog post is the speech I gave at the San Diego Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kick-off breakfast this morning. They asked me to talk about being a “Pacesetter” (one of the top San Diego fundraisers for the walk) – the why and the how.
Ruth, Eleanor, Joan, Janet, Rosemary, and Carol—Each of these women fought breast cancer. They are my mother, my grandmother, three aunts, and a first cousin. Each of them fought and won, with the exception of Cousin Carol. Diagnosed at 35, she died at 43 after it metastasized in her bones. I walked for Carol in 2007.
Linda, Gail, Annette, Maria, Melodie, Andi, Lisa, Vivian, Stephanie, Samantha, Joane, Kim… Each of these women also fought – they are either my friends or my friend’s sisters or mothers. Melodie fought for twelve long years—she was the definition of a warrior, having received a terminal diagnosis several times over the course of many years before she died. I walked for Melodie in 2011. Kim fought breast cancer and won, only to learn her medical team had missed a spot in her knee—in the bone—that had been there for more than three years. It was there when she was first diagnosed. She is now living with bone cancer and has a brand-new adopted baby boy. I’ve walked for her more than once. Vivian is my boss who has battled it three times—currently in remission for the past nine months, but has a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer about which very little is known. I walked for her last year.
I could go on and on. Thankfully, I don’t have someone new—or a repeat offender—to walk for specifically this year. So, this is why I walk. These people are why I walk and raise money for ACS through Strides each year.
But if I’m being honest? I’m also selfish. I walk to save myself. I have this feeling that it’s inevitable that I’ll end up with cancer, so I’m also fighting for my own life, even without a diagnosis.
I’ve been a Strides Pacesetter every year since 2006. I think my seven year fundraising total is around $25,000. I shouldn’t tell you that it’s been easy… but in the whole scheme of things? It’s been easy. It’s quite easy for me to send email to friends and family and post on Facebook on a regular basis. Does it take some time and effort? Absolutely. And it’s 100% worth it. The feedback I get isn’t that I’m bothering anyone, but that they appreciate the reminders. Not everyone is ready to give at the moment they get your e-mail, but they may be at a later date. And if they don’t give this year, they might the next.
Every year I begin sending my e-mail someone new replies telling me they have a family member who has been diagnosed in the past year—and they give for the first time. You never know who you will touch with your e-mail.
I don’t put on events to raise money. I’ve sold “hope” bracelets and other costume jewelry here and there, but for the most part, I send email through the Strides Web site and from my personal e-mail. I post my progress and donation requests on Facebook and Twitter. I personalize my letter each year, explaining a different reason why I walk—personalizing is a key to success. I also send a personal, hand-written thank you note to each and every donor no matter how much they gave, right after the walk, letting them know how much I raised, what my team raised, and the estimate of the overall walk if I have it. I make it clear that they’re helping to make a difference. The personal touch shows greater appreciation. Remember – we don’t reach 100% of the goals we don’t set, so set a PUSH goal for yourself. My goal this year is $5,000.
|Each of the speakers today!
This year I will walk in remembrance of those lost, but more than anything I’ll walk grateful for the successes in research that ACS and other organizations have achieved. I’ll carry with me the thanks I have that Kim lived to be blessed with an amazing little boy. And I’ll hold close the HOPE that I stay healthy and that my friends and family do also.
I wish each of you luck with your fundraising and I hope each of you will reach Pacesetter status—if I can do it, you can too.