Yesterday, I went to Take Steps2015- the annual fundraising walk that the local chapters of the CCFA. The Northwest Chapter of the US is mainly located in Seattle, the Portland Chapter is much smaller. When I went to the Crohn’s and Colitis Support group meeting in April however, a representative of Take Steps was there, advertising the event. So, a good month later, my better half and I put on our walking shoes and went to the event.
I have mixed feelings about it. It was my first fundraising event (the German Crohn’s Foundation was much much smaller, and way more medically oriented when I grew up) and the first time I was surrounded by so many people who also have Crohn’s or Colitis. There were however a few things that I found odd:
Location: The walk started and ended in Oaks Park, which is in SE Portland, next to a wildlife refuge and the river. It’s a little amusement park with rides for little kids, and there was enough space for a band and lots of tables for people to sit. Also, muy importante, there were a lot of clean restrooms for everybody. The two mile walk was on paved, even road, so that wheelchairs, kids in strollers etc. could easily make it. So these are all the good aspects. The place is also in the middle of nowhere. If you want to raise awareness, then you need to find a place where you are fairly visible. Also, since it was a bike path, there were several bikers who simply rode their bikes through the groups of people (RUDE, mother****!). Granted, finding a space that has all of these requirements may be hard to find or extremely expensive, but at the same time, I could think of at least five places that aren’t necessarily downtown but still fairly frequented, such as the Hoyt Arboretum. Alternatively, if you have a place like this, you need to advertise the hell out of your event to let people know it happened.
Social Media: I tweeted the hell out of the event, always tagging @takestepspdx, hashtagging etc. I instagramed and I facebooked. If you are on a small budget (and I will simply assume they were), then take it to social media. There was not ONE single official tweet from Take Steps pdx during the event- what’s up with that? Likewise, when I talked to my wound nurse this morning about the event (and she deals with ostomy and pouch patients every day), she didn’t even know about it. Seriously? These days, most doctors and clinics work happily together with patient support groups (it wasn’t always that way, let me tell you), so why not call up all of the hospitals in Portland or send them an email?
Sponsors: There were the usual suspects, UCB (makers of Cimzia), Abb Vie (Humira), RiteAid (because who hasn’t run in there in the middle of the night to buy toilet paper), aaaaand Dairy Queen. Yep, you heard that right. Now, obviously Fast Food doesn’t cause Crohn’s or Colitis, but if I ate at Dairy Queen, I’d be on the throne for three days straight. The snacks they handed out were chips, apples and bananas, and after the walk a barbeque without vegetarian options (as far as I could see). I am used to bringing my own food to places, but I would have expected stuff to be a bit more Crohn’s friendly. Especially in Portland with New Seasons and Trader Joes (both self-professed community stores) reigning supreme, I am seriously mystified as to why Dairy Queen was the big sponsor.
Incentives: I thought the incentives to sponsor were a little high- there were tote bags, water bottles, t-shirts. However, the rewards started with a donation of $25. While this may not seem like a lot of money, I know that a lot of patients deal with financial problems on top of Crohn’s and $25 can be a lot to someone who has a family to feed and medical bills to pay. Giving away tote bags for a donation of $10 however would probably have brought a lot of spontaneous donations. Tote bags are cheap to produce, but they get noticed.
So, now that that’s out of the way- I still had fun! I met JenJo Erickson, a parent activist and her daughter whom I previously had met in the support group, and we ended up walking together. I was also impressed by the veteran’s workout group- I think one of their members had Crohn’s but the entire group and families showed up (they also raised A LOT of money). My GI’s office, the Oregon Clinic was there and walked as a team, and I loved people’s enthusiasm. There were two patients reading their stories (one of them made me cry, and I will write about her in another post), and the general mood was elated. I also picked up the newest patient brochures to review on here, and I guess now that I have been nagging and nagging, I have to see how I can help to make it better next year.
In the meantime, if you are feeling especially generous, or all that money is burning holes in your pocket, feel free to donate!