I think a lot of us can relate to feeling blessed in our own life, so much so that we are moved to give back to someone not as fortunate. When you sit quietly for a moment and count your blessings, do you ever feel like there is something more you want to do?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international “health campaign” founded in 1985 for both men and women (sadly, no one is untouchable) making it a great time to give back. During this special month, you can find events almost anywhere to bring more awareness to this disease.
Giving to a cause can be as simple as digging into your wallet, grabbing a few bucks, and passing that on to your favorite charity. Your donations could be used for research, prevention, treatments, providing information – it all depends on the organization. But, as a bigger gesture, why not give your time and participate in one of the events. Time is precious to all of us, and giving of your time is a huge contribution.
In 2010, I organized my first fundraiser, for two reasons. One, because I could. And two, I joined a team (TuTu’s for TaTa’s) walking in the Avon Breast Cancer Santa Barbara Walk. I used my resources in the fitness community, created an event teaching classes, asked everyone I could find to donate items to raffle, and raised over $1400.00. I was surprised, not by the generosity but by how easy it was to put together (this was way before Instagram people, take note.) It wasn’t fancy – no black ties just pink tutus – but it was fantastically effective.
The Avon event is probably the most well known, with over 26 miles spanning over 2 days. We slept in tents, (yep, on the ground) and used portable bathrooms and showers. When you think about what someone goes through, battling cancer and that fight for their life, the struggles of sleeping in a tent didn’t even seem like enough. And I found myself still wanting to do more.
So a couple years ago, I had an idea to round up the troops again and take a walk to raise money for an organization called A Vision of Health. I heard about this nonprofit through the fitness studio I teach at, which happens to be adorned with a hot pink ceiling, so the obvious Pink to Pink Walk was birthed. This year will be the 3rd annual walk. There are walks all over the world – it’s so powerful when you see all the action taking place. It sure has inspired me.
Making Strides (The American Cancer Society) gives you the 411 on events in your area. Organizing a team is a very clever way to multiply donations (the more the merrier, right?) I have amazing memories of the Avon Walk and sharing that experience with a team I met through a client who had lost her mother to this disease. I spent the weekend with strangers, however, we fast became friends and bonded over a shared desire to make a difference. The emotional stories told, of survival, loss and the fight to live were so powerful.
I’m not a professional philanthropist, nor am I an expert charity planner. What I’ve learned is that you don’t have to qualify to donate money to causes, you don’t need to own a business to organize a walk, gather participants, rally a raffle and be a fundraiser. Be a kind generous person. That’s all.
What a wonderful gift to get out of your own healthy bubble and walk a few steps in someone else’s shoes. It really puts into perspective how short life is and how lucky we are to be here right now in this moment. The experiences gained when you join forces with a like-minded group or community fighting together for a cause far outweigh the individual moments. I’m not saying giving support monetarily isn’t helpful, it absolutely is part of the process to keep non-profits afloat, it’s just different to become part of the process by connecting on a personal level.