Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ideas That Work

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Another Walk Idea...

Note: I am taking a week's break from discussing the rebranding process. I gave the board of governors' chairs until this Wednesday to respond to the survey in that was featured last week. I received a number of well-thought responses. I still have yet to receive response from roughly half the board chairs and hope they will respond by tomorrow. Remember if you don't respond, you will have to abide by decisions made from the input of others.

This time of year is the typical conducting our dyslexia walks. It amazes me that the walks are currently in their sixth year of operation. As with any event proposed for use in many locations, it is successful in some places and not the best thing in others. As with any event, a successful walk relies on enthusiastic volunteers, a decent body of people who will sponsor the event and participate in it, and a manageable site to hold it.

There are a lot of walk-type events. In some cities there are so many that gaining a foothold may seem impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to tweak the walk so it reaches a slightly different audience. Also there is an almost infinite universe of special events that might better suit you.

In this case the Waterbury Learning Center's volunteers successfully tweaked the model.

Chairman of the Waterbury LC, Charles Yohe, write and explained how the in the Hartford area, they decided to conduct a Walk/Run:

"The Valley of Hartford, AASR decided they wanted to do something on an annual basis in support of the Learning Center and the chairman of the Family Life committee, who is a 5K participant decided that they should do something different from a Family Life perspective. So, on July 25, 2009, the first ever 5K Race/Walk was sponsored by Valley of Hartford in Newington, CT. One hundred forty-eight runners took part in this first year event and all expressed a desire to come back and bring their friends along next year. We even had a runner from San Francisco, CA who was visiting in the area.

"The total donation to the Learning Center after expenses came out to almost $4800. This was due in large part to the generous support of sponsors and the donations of food items for the participants. I donated my sound system, music and support as a mobile DJ and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We had support from the DeMolay as well as spouses and family members. There was also a Child ID event on site as well.

"The event chair told me that he was contacted by the owner of a weight loss clinic who was going to encourage his clients (50+) to come and walk. The entrance fee was $15 per person and we had a professional chip timing system which we leased for the day. The plan is to make this a yearly event close to the last Saturday in July (2010 is July 24th). The local police and EMTs were on hand and were very complimentary on how well the event was run. The town of Newington has several 4'x8' billboards to announce various items of interest and gave the AASR the free use of one of these billboards in the center of town.

"So, in additon to the Walk for Dyslexia Awareness, we now have a 5K Run/Walk. We've already held one 'post mortem'/advance planning session for next year's event, with another session scheduled for October 18th. The current plan is to lease the timing equipment for the next 2 years and then purchase our own system which can then be leased out to other organizations who are holding 5K or 10K races. A timing system basically pays for itself in 3 years, even if it is not leased to others."
Great work! As a fundraiser for two hospitals, I organized Run/Walk events. They are generally successful in bringing more people to the event if you advertise the run in running publications and web sites (runnersworld.com and coolrunning.com are 2 well known sites). Walkers and sponsors are really the reliable sources for funds, but an event with a good crowd keep the excitement high and brings people back year after year.

Remember too that scheduling is essential. If there is a huge walk or race already scheduled for the day you want, you might give the established event the date. Chances are your walk/run will suffer from the competition.

Please send me any innovations you have used to help your walk event succeed. This spring we may host a webinar incorporating your good ideas.


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