75 cities across the nation brought communities together on Saturday, November 23. However, to my knowledge, only one did so in 7 degree weather. Although many lacked feeling in hands, feet, and legs, the feeling of making an impact was shared throughout Target Field.
Throughout my time as an intern at St. Jude, the Give thanks. Walk. started as an abstract idea and grew into something I had a sense of ownership with.
Although the planning has been in the works for quite some time, my position as an intern gave me the opportunity to recruit volunteers, sponsors and entertainment.
I was informed of the possibility of these roles in my interview in July, but experiencing the many dimensions that include each aspect proved eye opening. Here are some things I learned.
1. Find a personal connection– Having a hand in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Des Moines walks called for great attention to detail, in order to keep all of the contacts for volunteers straight. Whether I had family in the area, attended a similar club, or had heard of the organization, I found a way to relate to each contact. There were times I was tempted to mention we had the same first name- whatever it is, make yourself a real person not an email address.
2. It never hurts to ask– Whether this was for contributions from sponsor teams or for organizations to donate goods to the walk, you’ll only get a yes if you ask. Even though organizations are being kind by donating services, they are receiving press in return, so be confident expressing needs of the event. Additionally, I became more involved with the other area’s walks and took on unique responsibilities, because I asked where else I could be utilized.
3. Over communicate- When it came to recruiting and organizing entertainment for the event, communication was key. Press releases, emails or phone calls can all be overlooked. It’s important to try different tactics and remember to follow up with contacts. Reminding confirmed entertainment of the date, time, location on a regular basis helps to avoid any last minute confusion. Reaching out to contacts with updates and fundraising goals is essential to stay top of mind and engage people in a way that makes them feel as vital to the event as they are.
Although I was freezing and lost feeling in far too many body parts, being part of such a great event made it all worth it. Conference calls with the Chicago and national office allowed me to experience the magnitude of 75 cities uniting together. Listening to the relationships bound by a similar cause and passion also allowed me to realize how lucky I was to be involved with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.