3 Years, 5 Lessons, Countless Downdogs

Passion has been a bit of a buzzword for me lately. It could be from creating inspiration boards with kindergarten-3rd grade students, the Greek Awards recommendation letters I’ve been writing, or from the Tazo tea called Passion that I drink daily.

More than anything though, I think it’s credited to the recent Downdogs for Diabetes event. If you aren’t familiar, this is my sorority’s annual fall philanthropy event; a yoga class, led by yours truly, that benefits the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation. I’m simply unable to explain my involvement and energy surrounding this event, without touching on passion.

DSC_56The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation benefits diabetes education, research and awareness; along with many other initiatives to support Alpha Gam alumnae in need. The University of Minnesota Alpha Gamma Delta chapter (Delta) holds 2-3 fundraising events each year to support the Foundation. Downdogs began three years ago, and I’m thrilled to see that it’s had staying power.

Even for those not studying public relations and/or with a love for events, Downdogs has taught me a few things over the years, all of which I couldn’t have learned if it weren’t driven by passion. As graduation approaches, and people of all stages in life continue to stress about the future, I think tapping into passion may be just as calming as a downward facing dog-

1. Stay on brand– Downdogs for Diabetes has been successful as a fall philanthropy because it stayed true to Alpha Gam. Our Purpose, which is like a values based mission statement, outlines the importance of health and wellness. Focusing on what you value- and what you don’t- can put things into perspective. This along with the yoga classes held in our living room, Alpha Gam and yoga go hand in hand. Although it had not been done before, this event wasn’t a huge stretch (no pun intended).

The first Downdogs for Diabetes, 2012.

2. Shake it up– From the lines outside Mesa at bar close, to the club meetings that advertise with only two words- free food-we’ve all seen (and experienced) how people are motivated by food. As a result, this event was pretty unconventional compared to other fundraisers for our chapter and for the community. However, risk taking is essential for innovation and allowed our chapter to discover a new tradition.

3. Authenticity is key– This ties in with numero uno, and is probably the most important of them all. Downdogs wouldn’t have started or succeeded had I not had genuine enthusiasm and trust that it could. If your vision is authentic, you’ll be able to get others to envision it as well.

4. Details can come later– When I originally planned Downdogs for Diabetes, I wasn’t sure exactly where it would take place, if people would like it, or what impact it would have. I just knew there was only one way to find out, which rings true for professional and personal life scenarios. You won’t make any strides forward or try anything new if you’re waiting for guaranteed success.

5. Gophers can’t be tamed– Okay but actually. Goldy attended this year’s event, and was a bit more rambunctious than mygoldy average yoga student. Rather than letting his surprises (i.e. pretending to change the music, bringing a ladder to his yoga mat, and spraying people with their water bottles) throw me off, I rolled with the punches. As much of a planner as I am, there can be a point where preparation no longer serves you. 5 year plans are great- especially for when someone asks you what’s your 5 year plan– but it needs to be able to adapt to the new experiences and growth you will be fortunate to have.

One of the greatest things yoga has taught me is to keep my mind as flexible as my hamstrings. Whether it’s planning events or planning your future, letting go of certainty in order to embrace and appreciate surprises makes life a bit more zen, and a lot more enjoyable.

Downdogs for Diabetes


In honor of November being national Diabetes Awareness month, I’d like to shine light on my sorority’s successful philanthropy event this semester. A community yoga class benefiting the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation, the 2nd Annual Downdogs for Diabetes event proved to be a great success.

Last year as the sorority’s philanthropy coordinator, I created this event as our fall semester fundraiser. It brought in over $2000 by selling tickets to the community for $5 ahead of time and $6 at the door. As the instructor and pioneer of the event, there were details that could’ve have gone smoother.

Our philanthropy coordinator this time around, Jess Lieberman, maintained the framework for the event, but made it even better.

dd for d
Me with our Philanthropy Coordinator, Jess Lieberman

The remodeling of the U of M Recreation Center came at the perfect time, as we were able to host the event in the gorgeous Beacon Room. This also simplified the process of renting speakers and other audio necessities, seeing as the space in the Rec. was complete with a stereo and microphone system that I am familiar with, as an instructor at the Rec.

The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation funds the research, education and awareness of diabetes, among many programs designed to support sisters and alumni in their personal and professional lives.

This year, through Downdogs for Diabetes, were able to raise over $3000 for the Foundation.

Counteracting the not-so-healthy Pancake feed held every February for the cause, this event displays the value of health while engaging the community. To encourage involvement, a competition was held among the other Greek chapters. Whoever had the most members attend the class would be awarded a private yoga lesson, taught by yours truly. Kappa Alpha Theta was awarded this prize and will be having their private yoga class soon!

All in all, the new location and improved audio system provided for a great event. However the effort Jess, also a strategic communications student, put into the promotion and organization of the event made all the difference. Save the date for another fundraising event, being held on Saturday, December 7th, 11 a.m.-2 p.m!