Thursday, June 9, 2016

Going an Extra Mile (or 30 or 50) for MS

Laurie Baerwolf and Loretta Herreman at
Challenge Walk MS 2015
Now that they’ve completed yet another Walk MS, members from the team Rosie’s Buds are looking ahead to September and Challenge Walk MS.

“When you become affected by MS, you want to get more awareness out there and do whatever you can to help the research,” said team captain Laurie Baerwolf, known as L.B. to people in and around Columbus, Wis.

That’s not to say she wasn’t a little apprehensive last year when one of the newest members of her Walk MS team, “Rosie’s Buds,” first suggested they try Challenge Walk MS — the three-day, 50-mile fundraising walk in Door County. (A 30-mile option is also available.)

‘How are we supposed to raise $1,500?’

“I’ve always been a walker, but the
farthest I had gone was five miles,”
explained Laurie Baerwolf (right).
She and Loretta Herreman walked
all 50 miles at last year's Challenge
Walk MS and plan to do the same
this year. 
“Loretta (Herreman) and I were walking along together at Walk MS: Madison and she said ‘I think we should do the Challenge Walk,’” Baerwolf recalled. “I went home, looked it up on online, then called her and said ‘I don’t think so! How are we supposed to raise $1,500?’ That scared the heck out of me.”

But they raised it, through a combination of small do-it-yourself fundraisers and letting friends and family know what they were doing. Baerwolf held a few painting-themed events and sent letters to about 100 people she knew. Herreman estimated that she raised nearly 90 percent of her funds by holding brat fries and selling zucchini bread around town. The team’s namesake, Baerwolf’s daughter-in-law Rosie, who lives with MS, posted a flier at her church.

With the money raised, the realization of what they were about to do hit.

“I’ve always been a walker, but the farthest I had gone was five miles,” Baerwolf explained. “On our drive up to Door County, I told Loretta my goal was to walk 10 miles on Friday. She said, ‘No. We’re going to do 20.’ And we did! It was the most amazing thing I ever thought I’d do!”

But then Saturday morning rolled around, bringing with it another 10- to 20-mile route.

“A man we met on Friday said the hardest part will be the first hour on Saturday,” Baerwolf said. “That’s true. It’s when you think, ‘Oh my. I have to do this again!’”

And yet the duo did, bringing them to Sunday and the final 10 miles. That, Baerwolf said, was no big
deal.

“It was victory. It was emotion,”
Loretta Herreman (right) described of the
moment when she and Laurie Baerwolf
made it to the end of Challenge Walk MS.
 
“By Sunday you’re so excited because you’ve done 40 miles. You think 10 is a piece of cake.”

Baerwolf and Herrman’s reaction in coming down the winding path near the finish line said it all. The sun was shining. They were smiling. Grasping each other’s hands, they raised their arms to the sky, a sense of accomplishment beaming from their faces.

“It was victory. It was emotion,” Herreman said of that moment. “Walking in, we saw a lot of the people with MS that we met during the weekend, so it was celebrating their victory more than ours – celebrating that they made it.”

Not One and Done

Now Baerwolf and Herreman are looking ahead to their second Challenge Walk MS this fall. They’ve surpassed the $1,500 per person fundraising minimum already, raising a total of $5,465 thanks to a Mardi Gras-themed fundraising night in February.

The evening included auction and raffle items, a band, food and refreshments. The band played for free; the venue – Kesterel Ridge Golf Course – donated the space. Local businesses donated auction and raffle items. Friends and family made desserts to contribute, and the rest of the food proved to be a minimal expense. Proceeds were generated by the advanced and at-the-door ticket sales. Everyone got Mardi Gras beads to wear.

Step On Over to Challenge Walk MS
Laurie and Loretta will be returning to Door County 
for Challenge Walk MS in September.Why not join them? 
Visit challengewalkMSwi.org, call 262-369-4400 
or email info.wisMS@nmss.org to sign up. 
Baerwolf is planning a poker run this summer to raise additional funds, explaining that she and Herreman had set a goal of doubling the size of their Challenge Walk MS team this year by bringing two more people with them. She’s hoping that will be her daughter-in-law and 14-year-old granddaughter.


“We will continue to do Walk MS in Madison because our whole entire family does it,” Baerwolf said. “But I just turned 55, so I’ll also do Challenge Walk MS as long as I can. We need to do whatever we need to do to help people with MS get whatever they need.”


Monday, May 23, 2016

Picture Yourself in Door County

A beautiful orchard backdrop on loan from the Door County Visitors Bureau, a few “Picture Yourself in Door County” selfie-station frames and the enthusiasm of veteran Challenge Walk MS participants Ann and Dave Freigang, Laurie Baerwolf and Loretta Herreman helped generate extra interest in Challenge Walk at Walk MS events in Milwaukee, Madison and Sheboygan. 






Thanks to the volunteer ambassadors, as well as all the Challenge Walk participants who made a point of being part of Walk MS, too! Here are just a few we spotted:





Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tell Your Story

Every Challenge Walk MS walker and Super Crew member gets a participant page on the Challenge Walk MS website. It's where you can fundraise and track donations, and where people can leave comments for you. 

Be sure to personalize both your page AND your team’s page. Change out the photo provided with one of your own. Incorporate your own story of why you're signed up for Challenge Walk MS. Studies show that making it your own can help increase your fundraising success. 

Need help writing your story? Call 262-369-4400 or 800-242-3358 or email info.wisMS@nmss.org and someone from the Wisconsin Chapter can assist you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

She’s the Queen of Volunteers and Transporter of Socks

Diane Hackbarth (right) sparkles in her tiara with Challenge Walk MS
participant Cindy LeBlanc at the 2015 event.
Diane Hackbarth has been a familiar face at Challenge WalkMS since 2010. A long-time Walk MS participant, she added the three-day, 50-mile event to her annual schedule out of dedication to her daughter, who was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago.

Hackbarth was unofficially crowned as the “Queen of Volunteers and Transporter of Socks” at this year’s Challenge Walk in recognition of the amount of volunteer work she does for the National MS Society. In addition to leading the Walk MS: Sheboygan committee and helping throughout the weekend at Challenge Walk each year, she crosses state lines to participate in Bike MS: Twin Cities. 

At Challenge Walk itself, Hackbarth helps out in a number of ways, including transporting the walkers’ half-day bags (which often contain a fresh pair of socks) to and from the lunch stop each day.

What is it about Challenge Walk that keeps her coming back?

“It’s all about the people,” Hackbarth said. “I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the state, all over the country. It’s a vacation to come here and spend time with them again.

“I do this because 10 years ago my daughter was diagnosed with MS and I found out that MS is stronger than a mom’s kiss – I couldn’t kiss it and make it better,” she added. “So I volunteer to raise money for the people who can [make it better], and they’re doing wonderful work. As long as they’re making progress, I’ll keep volunteering.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ask the NP

Challenge Walk MS 2015 participant Jay Saunders recently shared his story about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis through the Ask the NP blog.

Thanks, Jay, for raising MS awareness!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

They Kept Me Going


See that hat in the middle? It has seen close to 500 miles, touring with its owner, Heather Schuster, for a ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 2006 and accompanying her as she trained for Challenge Walk MS throughout 2015.

“That was the original hat that started it all,” explained Michelle Evans, who joined Schuster’s team, Not Fast – Just Furious.

Schuster’s sister, Summer Mark, joined too.

And so did their matching hats.

“I bought a new one for the walk and it ended up being a tiny bit too big. I thought, I’m putting the original back on,” said Schuster, who proudly showed off a hole forming near the brim – a sure sign of good use.

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and I’m turning 50 this year and so it seemed like I should walk 50 miles,” Schuster explained. “Summer and Michelle, one sister by blood and one sister by choice, were willing to come along. I don’t think I would have done it without them to train with. It’s one thing to do it this weekend but it’s another thing to train every weekend. They kept me going.”


Summer Mark, Heather Schuster and Michelle Evans were three of 50
first-time participants at Challenge Walk MS 2015. They joined in honor of
Heather’s 50th birthday and, together, raised nearly $5,500.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Scare Up Some Ideas


Themed rest stops are part of the fun at Challenge Walk MS – and post-Halloween sales are a great time to get ideas for next year and stock up on supplies! Can you volunteer to host a rest stop in 2016? Contact Kristin at kristin.raeber@nmss.org for details.