Last weekend, I registered for my local Run/Walk For The Way, a fundraising event for the United Way. The United Way is a huge non-profit organization that offers local services for families, like tutoring and free tax prep, as well as larger scale programs, like their worldwide campaign against human trafficking. Although my interest usually lies in helping smaller non-profits develop, the United Way is doing some amazing things. Besides, the walk was a chance to expose my toddler to making a difference. The fact that it was a nice walk in a beautiful park was just an added bonus.
I’ve done plenty of 5Ks and mud runs, but usually it’s for fun and not charity. So I was immediately surprised by how many great groups came together to support the United Way. There were several high school groups sporting “Don’t Do Drugs” (or some catchy variation of that message) tee shirts, many small groups with shirts for autism advocacy, veteran advocacy, and homeless advocacy tees. And there was me and my small entourage, all sporting Wearable Therapy tees. I chose to wear my Human Trafficking Tee to show off one of the issues that I was walking for.
There were a few other things that surprised me about the event. For one, I was surprised at the huge number of people who showed up to join the run and walk. And all of them wanted to see a positive change in the local community, the country, and the world. I’d never actually done a walk before- I’m far too competitive and can’t stand the slow pace of walking- but this was different.
There was a real feeling of solidarity as we walked through the park with the sun rising. The beautiful landscape surrounding us only added to that feeling of being part of something bigger. Holding my son’s hand and laughing as he tried to catch up to the people in front of us with his unsteady baby steps, I couldn’t help but feel pure happiness.
The one mile walk didn’t take long, but we stuck around to see the sights. Community businesses came together and set up stands, offering up bottled water, snack bars, and prize drawings. Many people brought their kids, so the sense of solidarity continued as the children played together on the playground. It wasn’t just a regular day at the park; there was a feeling of togetherness and positivity.
In the past, I’ve always asked myself, “Does going to a fundraiser for one of these huge organizations make a difference?” And last weekend, I got my answer. It does. It’s not necessarily about the money; it’s about coming together and showing the world that people care. It’s about showing our children how good it feels to stride for change. Even if my son won’t remember the event, he’ll have the pictures to remind him that he was an advocate before he was out of diapers.
So, the next time you hear about a local fundraiser, don’t hesitate to join in. You may end up getting back a lot more than you give.
Written By: Danielle Gallagher
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