At the end of the day – It’s all about the people; and the people of Madison came through big time for our National Eating Disorder Walk! I could not be happier or prouder of the result.
The weather and the venue were perfect. There is nothing as sweet as a warm September day in Wisconsin; and there is nothing as beautiful as the views by Madison’s lakes. If you could overlook the backdrop of the dumpsters behind our registration tables–the other vistas were gorgeous.
The only committee member to actually arrive at the venue on time to setup, took a gorgeous picture of the lake next to Vilas park; a picture of calm before the crowd began to arrive. And… It. Was. A. Crowd! We had over 300 people attend the walk – well over anyone’s expectations when we started out last winter.
The first crisis of the day was immediate and urgent. The bathrooms were locked. My Son, Ben, did his first good deed of the day by tracking down a park ranger to unlock them. His second good deed of the day was bringing his wife, Jessica, who was a terrific help at the chaotic on-site registration desk, along with my daughter, Kelly. Guzzy finalized the volunteer troupe of my kids, by staffing the prize table with her BF and with Ben. Hubby Dan also stepped up big time; at one point giving the shirt off his back to a volunteer who needed one for a photo op. (Giving us all a cheap thrill)
Other committee members recruited family members to flesh out our core team to about 20 volunteeers. We needed all of them! We had music, we had refreshments, we had fliers and prizes from our sponsors, we had temporary tattos, we had loads of prizes, we had bandanas for the doggies, and once the speakers got underway–we had tears and we had hugs.
A local news channel covered the event; we appeared in a 15 second blurb on the evening news. If you look really closely you can see me clutching a clipboard and Guzzy strutting her stuff while carrying the banner with Dave leading the walk. See it at News coverage. Although the news anchor said we hoped to raise $10,000… we have raised over $18,000 and I expect that to climb to $19,000 by the time all the after-walk donations are in.
I Emceed the event, which required frequent navigation of the maze atop our small stage; which contained a variety of sound and musical equipment. Two of our lessons learned for next year: Rent a bigger stage and get a bigger sound system — they had a trouble hearing in the back.
Our first speaker was Dave. Dave is also a member of the walk committee AND was our TOP fund-raiser after coming on like gang-busters in the week preceding the walk. Dave’s story was both incredibly sad and incredibly inspiring. He was/is a brilliant young man with a bright future; but at one point he lost almost everything due to his eating disorder; but he has since managed to take back control over his own life. Later during the event, a young man approached me and told me how much Dave’s story meant to him. I am hoping the two of them connected in person.
The other speakers were also fantastic – everyone showed up (which is always a concern) and did a great job. A local pizzaria delivered 10 large pizzas at the end of the event (JUST in time); all of which were quickly devoured.
Our contacts at NEDA HQ watched our progress with interest – we were one of several walks being held last weekend, and the comment that was shared with me was “Madison is Kicking Butt”! Yah… That’s Right — we kicked us some ED butt and it felt good!