Thursday, April 29, 2010

Through My Child's Eyes

Tonight I attended Gillette Children's Children's Art Showcase.  Whoopee, you say, right? Yet another event, schmoozing with people you don't really know, etc, right?

Guess again.

This was an event put on by Gillette showcasing artwork from many of our patients. For a $25 ticket people could show up, enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and drinks and bid on artwork completed by a Gillette patient. Each piece of art was accompanied by a little bio talking about the artist -- the oldest artist was age 12.

I could enjoy this evening because for one, I am not the vendor (as I was in my prior life). And...since I'm also not the relationship person who has to schmooze with people there, I got to show up with my soon-to-be 7-year-old.  I asked a few people at work if it would be okay if I brought my daughter; after all, it is a work function. But I knew that the children who did the artwork would be there, and I knew that my daughter would like to meet some of the kids who are treated at Gillette, for as shy as she sometimes is. And since I didn't have any goals for the evening, I felt okay bringing Lindsey.

When we first arrived we helped check people in as they came in -- Lindsey loved helping cross their names off the list. Then after the majority of people arrived, we got to go in and see the artwork and meet the artists.

Lindsey wanted to bid on a couple of pieces, and honestly, the artwork was pretty awesome. It was also beautifully framed and well presented. The bios could bring tears to your eyes as you read each artist's story of their various diagnoses, how they came to be at Gillette, and the incredible care that they receive there.

The best part was that Lindsey got to connect with Lila, one of Gillette's patients who is also featured in the hospital's Cure Pity campaign. (Photo above.) She was born with no right hand for no known reason -- God apparently decided that that was how it was going to be. While she used a prosthetic from Gillette for some time, she now chooses not to use one, and it is truly amazing to see how much she can do with her "little hand," as she calls it.

By the end of the evening, the two girls were playing tag on the back lawn of the art center, running around with a handful of other little girls, all in their little party dresses or skirts, some with disabilities, others without, but all having fun on a beautiful spring evening.

I know that my camera did not capture the moment.

The best part was that as we were leaving, Lindsey commented on how much she liked Lila. I knew that she would for some reason -- from what I knew of her she seemed like the kind of girl my daughter would like, someone with spunk and tenacity. Lindsey was wishing that Lila went to her school, and said how amazed she was at how well she used her little hand.

As we got into the car, she said, "People should really not look at Lila's hand, but look at Lila and see her."

Wow, that is so smart. "You know," I said to her, "Some people live their whole lives and never know that, and here you are, a little girl, and you understand that already."

I learn so much from my daughter every day. I am so proud of her.

Monday, April 19, 2010

If you don't think fundraising's changing...think again

Every year I walk for the March of Dimes. They have an annual walk the last Sunday of April which raises millions of dollars for the organization. I have walked in rain, in slushy snow, on beautiful 70-degree days, on sweltering 90-degree days, all in April in Minnesota. (Note to any brides who may be reading this: don't plan an outdoor wedding in April in Minnesota!)

I've also walked with my dog, with a baby, with a baby and a toddler, with just a toddler, with my friends, with my co-workers, and once with my husband. (That was the same year we walked with said dog.)

This is my 12th year walking for March of Dimes' March for Babies, previously called WalkAmerica. Here's a picture of how I may have fundraised my first year, back in 1998:

1. I could have written letters using language MOD provides to their walkers to write to my friends and family, asking them to help me raise money. (I know I didn't though, I just emailed them.)

2. I emailed friends and family, telling them what I was doing and why, and asking for their donations to help.

3. I would have received checks or cash from friends and family, which I collected in an envelope and turned in on the day of the walk, along with a sponsor sheet that I filled in by hand, showing who all the donations came from. In most cases I simply provided a name and dollar amount of my sponsors.

4. It would take March of Dimes months to tally all the revenue from all of the walk sites -- in about 3 months they would have an idea of how much money had been raised.

Here's how I fundraised this year:

1. I activated my fundraising webpage from 2009 and updated it for 2010. I told a new story and put up a new picture.

2. I used one of their "badges" to put on my blog, showing the photo I had uploaded to my personal site and where I was at against my goal ($0 of $900).

3. I also put another badge on my Facebook page.

At this point the fundraising began -- I hadn't sent out a single email, hadn't sent a link to my page to a single person. But I received a $25 donation from a friend of mine who had seen my badge on my Facebook page, and decided to donate right away instead of waiting for me to ask her. (Thank you, Tad!)

4. A week or two later, I changed my Facebook status to post a link to my fundraising page, asking people to help me with my campaign.

5. A month before the walk, I sent an email to friends and families with a link to said fundraising page, asking for their support.

6. A week before the walk, I sent an email again to my friends and families reminding them that the walk was coming soon and asking them to help.

7. I am currently creating a fundraising e-card which I can send to friends and families, and can also post to my Facebook page, which uses my personal photos to create an entertaining animated card.

As of this Thursday, I'm going to turn in my online sponsorship form and the three physical checks I received -- all other funds were raised online. The name and address of every person who has donated to me online has been collected, which helps MOD in future communications. I will receive my t-shirt ahead of the walk on Sunday, and won't have to worry about handling a large amount of cash on the day of the walk.

March of Dimes already knows how many millions have been raised nationwide, and can project how much more money will come in on walk day and in the weeks following. Thirty days after the walk they will probably have a tally of all the money raised, and will be able to plan their research spending appropriately based on this revenue.

A quick "shout out" to all the people who have donated so generously to my campaign. While I probably won't reach my big hairy audacious goal of $900 this year, I am sure I will reach the $500 level, all to go to a cause that means a lot to me.