It seems like every non-profit organization has a Walk to raise awareness and fundraise for their cause. Here in the Northeast, you can find a Walk almost every weekend starting in the spring and going through the fall. So, when the topic of doing a Walk for OCD would come up around the IOCDF office, I always hesitated. Another Walk? I worried that Walks had been overdone. Wouldn’t an OCD Walk just get lost in the sea of all of the other Walks?
However, a Walk is one of the most effective fundraising and awareness strategies for the nation’s biggest charities. The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life raised more than $400 million last year. Every year tens of millions of Americans ask friends to sponsor them in events ranging from 3-mile fun runs to 100-mile bike treks.
Why do organizations hold Walks? They hold them because they work, and they work on many levels. When I first came to the IOCDF almost 5 years ago now, I thought that fundraising would be my biggest challenge. In fact, it is one of the aspects of my job I like the most. For me, fundraising isn’t just about asking for money, it is about creating partnerships and collaborations. In essence I’m asking someone to join me in helping to transform great ideas into realities that make real impacts.
Once we launched the Walk, I began to notice that the structure and strategy of a Walk is so familiar — it got folks involved who had previously been on the periphery. Building a “team” has resonated strongly with our community. It has generated an army of OCD and related disorders advocates who are coming together to raise awareness and tell their own unique story. The walk has given an entirely new group of advocates a “voice” and has been a way to invite an entirely different group of individuals into the cause: “Support me in my efforts to raise awareness and make a difference.”
The value of a Walk isn’t just about money raised. A walk creates a sense of pride and community. Did you know there are as many kids with OCD as with juvenile diabetes? How does the general public not know this? Walks can change perceptions and help educate. Raising money for a walk opens the door to start having these conversations with families, friends, and colleagues. For many people, taking part in this kind of event is a gateway to real advocacy.
Plus, Walks are inspirational. As Denis Asselin continues his pilgrimage from his home in Cheney, PA, to Washington, DC, I am reminded of the importance and power of just putting one foot in front of the other.
And if your response to this walk has been any indication — it seems perhaps Walks aren’t overdone at all. Clearly, the OCD and related disorders community were hungry for this type of event. We have already raised over $40,000, and with a week to go, I wouldn’t be surprised if we doubled our original fundraising goal of $25,000. Perhaps you can help us get there?
I am greatly anticipating my participation with all of you at this year’s inaugural Walk in Boston on June 8: One million steps to raise awareness for OCD and related disorders… what a powerful image and statement.
In Boston, we are hoping to have at least 300 walkers at Jamaica Pond on Saturday, June 8th, so we can show the OCD community’s strength in numbers. If you live in New England, will you join us, and bring a family member or a friend (or two, or ten)? You can invite people using the Facebook event page, or follow the steps below.
Tell your friends that walking is easy as 1-2-3:
- Register online at iocdf.org/WALKboston. You can register on your own, or create a team to walk and fundraise with. We will also have on-site registration at Boston walk on June 8, starting at 8am, though we encourage you to register online in advance.
- Start fundraising in advance of the walk! Walkers who raise at least $50 get a commemorative walk T-shirt, and walkers who attend our walk in Boston will be entered in our raffle to win some amazing prizes from Brooks Running and other local businesses. Click here to learn how.
- Join us in Boston on June 8, 2013, as we take 1 Million+ Steps for OCD Awareness!