Three years ago, I was approached by my best friend’s mom, Mary, who had the idea of holding an annual golf tournament and dinner to raise money for Spinal Muscular Atrophy research. Along with the help of Mary’s husband, Fred, and my parents, we spent that summer working hard to make the first annual event perfect. And it was. I’ll never forget the way I felt that very first year seeing all 143 guests come together to raise money for SMA. These past few years have been unbelievably successful, with each fundraiser getting bigger and better as the years progress. We’ve advanced to a larger venue due to its popularity and have continued to generate thousands of dollars for the cause. Our committee has grown in size, too. Each year, we challenge ourselves to make the next event the best one yet, and with the help of an overly generous and extremely dedicated team of people, we did just that over the past several months.
Our fundraiser is always held on the second Monday in August, and this year we began planning for it in April. Including myself, we had 18 people, the largest number yet, to help plan the event. I called us “The Dream Team” just because of how well we worked together and how willing everyone was to go out of their way to help. Once a week, we would all gather at my house for a meeting where we discussed our progress and what still needed to get accomplished. Those were some of the best days of my summer. Being able to work closely with people who are just as passionate as I am about my cause was something I’ll cherish forever.
The excitement over an upcoming event is almost too much for us to handle just because of the endless ideas and possibilities that we have in mind. Besides the actual event, this year we decided to have some fun and do a little side project to raise even more money. It’s called flocking. Ever hear of it before? For those who don’t know, the flockers (that’s us) go out late at night and place a bunch of plastic flamingos in someone’s yard (hence “flocking”) and ask for a donation in order for the flock to be removed the next day. We explain our cause, and for a $15 donation they can choose someone else they would like flocked. From there, we flock our next victim. I must admit, it got pretty comedic at times. I can’t tell you how often someone was in their living room as we were flocking or how many neighbors watched us as we inserted flamingo legs into someone’s lawn. Part of the excitement was trying NOT to get caught, but I’d be lying if I said it never happened. We were amateurs! All of our victims have been extremely cooperative with us, and we actually brought in over $500 to donate by doing so!
The last few weeks leading up to the event were crazy busy to say the least. After all, it was crunch time. During that final week, I swear I didn’t get any sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about everything. I spent almost every waking hour doing something for the fundraiser to ensure that it would be perfect. I wouldn’t settle for anything less. Hundreds of people go out of their way to be at the event and show their support for SMA, so it’s always been important to me to give them a night to remember. On the day of the event, my day started promptly at 6am and went nonstop until around 11pm. A 17-hour day sounds pretty exhausting, and I’ll admit to feeling rather sluggish towards the end, but if I could do it all again the next day, I would.
We had 104 golfers join us in our annual tournament during the day, and a little under 400 people attend the dinner in the evening. Just by looking around the banquet room, it was amazing to see how much we’ve grown in three short years. Nothing could make me happier than having people come together to support this cause, and never in my life did I imagine to fill a room with 400 people. I only wish I had the opportunity to personally thank each individual to express how grateful I was, as well as every business and person who contributed to the event. Being surrounded by so many wonderful people like that, I almost feel undeserving of all their support and generosity. They are the reason why I strive to make each year more successful than the last. Their undying kindness is what fuels me to be a better person, and they are the reason why we are one step closer to finding a cure.
Although we are still bringing in money from our flocking adventures, we have currently raised $17,035.03 from the Fourth Annual Working On Walking Fundraiser. That’s $3,000 more than last year which brings us to a grand total of over $45,000 over the past 3 years. I’m honestly at a loss for words thinking about this accomplishment and am just so overwhelmed with gratitude. Again, I have to thank the Dream Team for making all of this possible, and I cannot wait to share this experience with you again next year. Your actions and kindness will forever be engraved in my heart.
Gary and Sue- Thank you for all the incredible donations you both got for the raffle and auctions. And, I’d like to especially thank you for donating 50 flamingos for our flocking escapades. We’re definitely having so much fun with that…maybe a little too much fun. I admire, and am deeply thankful for, your passion that you put into this event and am extremely happy we got to spend so much time together these last few months. I’m so glad this fundraiser brought us together, and it was great to see you guys on days other than Christmas Eve! Let’s keep it up.
Tim and Deb- The newbies! It was so nice to meet you both, and I cannot express how thankful I am that you two decided to hop on board with this event. Thank you for your donations, your help, and eagerness to support my cause. We’ve only just begun, and I hope you’re ready for the crazy fun, amazing years that lie ahead.
Lisa Orsini- You are one, crazy woman, and I love the enthusiasm you brought to every meeting. Thank you for taking on the role as “Head Flocker”, and for all the help you put in for the event. It’s very much appreciated! Next year, we’ll get you some camouflage to wear while flocking, so that you don’t risk getting the police called on you, again. Sorry about that…
Patti Tweedie- You are one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. I’ve seen you at our previous events, but never knew just how kind you really are until you started coming to our meetings. Thank you for wanting to join the committee, and I am so incredibly thankful for all of your hard work. I hope you’ll come back next year!
Lisa DaCosta- Welcome to the world of fundraiser planning! Did you think our meetings were just as chaotic as our family gatherings? Kidding…well, sort of. It was so great to share this experience with you, and I cannot thank you enough for every donation and ounce of effort you put into this event. Get ready for next year!
Craig and Collin- I’m glad this fundraiser helped us to reconnect. You both worked so hard to make this event successful, and I appreciate every second spent doing so. You are both huge assets to our team. It’s great to have people who have known me since, literally, day 1 (like you!) help out. Thank you.
Michelle and Jamie- Thank you so much for capturing each moment and taking on the paparazzi role at every event to date. You both take fantastic photos. Aside from all the picture-taking though, it was so great to finally have you be a part of the behind the scenes work this time around. I can’t imagine how much work it must have been to manage and set up all 90 donation items, but everything went smoother than smooth and I couldn’t have asked for better. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Auntie Sue and Uncle Paul- Where do I even begin? Let me start off by saying the fundraiser definitely wouldn’t be the same with you. In fact, I can’t imagine what it would even be like without all of your help. The countless hours you spent on this event, wanting it to be perfect for me is more than I could ever ask for. Auntie Sue, I am honestly amazed at how well you handled making a seating chart for 400 people. That wasn’t an easy task, and you didn’t complain once about doing it. Instead, you would just say, “I want to do whatever makes you happy, Alyssa.” I feel like I am undeserving of your tremendous help, and because of that, I am forever grateful for everything. Love you both.
Mom and Dad- Thank you for being so supportive, and so involved in planning this event. Wednesdays just aren’t the same anymore without the committee sitting in the living room, but I know you’re just as excited to have them back next year. Each and every day I’m thankful for all you do, and I can’t help but realize just how lucky I am to have the best parents in the world.
Mary and Fred- Or should I call you “my second parents”? I owe this all to you. Without you, none of this would have ever happened, and I don’t know how to express how truly grateful I am for everything you’ve done. Thank you for believing in this cause that I am so passionate about. Thank you for working so hard to make every event so special. Thank you for treating me like a second daughter. I’m truly blessed and fortunate to have met such an amazing family. I love you both!