Monday, June 8, 2015

“I feel this is something I should be doing for myself…”

Jay Saunders is taking the term milestone literally in marking the five year anniversary of his MS diagnosis by taking on the 50-mile Challenge Walk MS.

Jay Saunders took this selfie at Walk MS: Milwaukee.
He has 
decided to commit to Challenge Walk MS this 

year, in honor of the five-year anniversary of his MS 
A Walk MS participant since his diagnosis in 2010, he decided to make 2015 his year for Challenge Walk after talking to his colleague Fran Mclaughlin, who had done it before.

“She told me how great of an event it was and she eased any fears I had about taking this on,” he said.

“One of the big reasons I’m doing this walk is because I can. I feel blessed by the fact that, since my diagnosis, I have been relatively symptom-free. There are days I can tell I’m not my old self, but I feel this is something I should be doing for myself and for the many others impacted by this mystery disease.”

Jay was 32 when he was diagnosed. The Omaha native thought maybe it was carpal tunnel he was experiencing, but when the tingling sensation spread from his wrist up his arm and then down the side of his right leg, he knew it was time to have it checked out. He and his wife were expecting their first child at the time.

Now that baby is a “wonderful, healthy and rambunctious four-year-old girl” who will be cheering her daddy across the Challenge Walk MS finish line come September.

Asked what he’s most anxious about  … whether it’s the 50 miles of walking, the minimum $1,500 commitment, or something else … Jay said “no question, it’s the 50 miles in three days,” but that he’s doing his best to get himself in shape for it. He’s also willing to forego the big Husker game taking place that weekend – something of a major sacrifice given that he’s the founder of a University of Nebraska football/alumni group in Milwaukee.

Visit Jay’s Challenge Walk MS participant page to learn more about Challenge Walk MS, Jay’s motivation or to make a donation.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thanks, Gus!

Did you know Alpine Resort, home to Challenge Walk MS again in 2015, is featuring Challenge Walk MS in its spring newsletter? Comments from a few of last year's participants are included! Read it here

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sister's Struggle Inspires Fundraiser to Fight MS

Challenge Walk MS veterans know the team name "K.O.'s Trio" well, and now so do readers of the Coulee News! Click here to read more about the trio, "K.O.", and the fundraiser the team is holding this month.

(Want to raise similar awareness of an event you're hosting? Check out the Challenge Walk MS publicity kit here.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Train in Style

The design for the 2015 Training T-shirt has been revealed! This year’s look is all about what participants have said they love best about Wisconsin’s annual three-day, 50-mile, destination fundraiser for MS. 

Want yours? It’s easy. Sign up today. The shirt is free to everyone who registers for Challenge Walk MS as a walker or Super Crew member, 

Already registered? Your shirt will be delivered this month, just in time for all your outdoor spring training activities.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Timing is Everything

by Patty Thorpe
Did you know that many businesses make their sponsorship decisions for the year during the first quarter? Now is the time to hit the ground running, not with your feet, but by getting your sponsorship request out in front of potential sponsors.
I know it's hard to ask for money, but corporate sponsorship is completely different from asking your Aunt Hazel for a donation. Corporate sponsorship is a business arrangement where you offer benefits that a potential sponsor will see as valuable. It is a tool that companies use to build their brand. You can help them do that by inviting them to support one or more of your fundraising events.
Here are a few simple steps to help you get started:
  1. Understand what you have to offer. What is the target audience of your event? A golf tournament audience will be different than an ‘80s themed fundraising dance. It is important to know who your audience is and how that audience will overlap with your sponsor's target audience. Businesses like statistical information, so when reaching out to potential sponsors, include as much demographic information about your planned event as possible: projected number of attendees, age, gender, etc.
  2. Understand what sponsors are looking for and offer benefits and value that meet their needs. Benefits for sponsors include:
      • Raising a company's profile by association with Challenge Walk MS
      • Improve corporate image
      • Meet corporate responsibility by supporting a good cause
      • Hospitality opportunities by inviting clients to events
      • Improve employee morale and engagement by inviting employees to events
      • Increased exposure to desired target audience
      • Alternative marketing channels
      • Social media mentions and potential press coverage
      • Event site signage
      • Category exclusivity
      • Presence at the event
      • Logo on all collateral material
You get the idea. There are a number of benefits associated with supporting an event that helps the National MS Society. The key is pitching the sponsorship opportunity appropriately.
  1. Research potential sponsors. It's not enough to get a list from the local Chamber of Commerce website. You should research the companies you are going to approach and solicit them individually. While a broad request letter can have some success, it is much more likely you will hook a major sponsor by tailoring your request to the company's needs. It has been helpful for my team members to approach businesses in three different ways:

    a. Companies that have an association with you, personally. Think about the people you do business with: your dentist, dry cleaner, the restaurant you go to every Friday night. They already know you and are more likely to support someone they see doing business at their establishments.
    b. Local businesses that could benefit from an association with your event. These are companies you may not do business with, but who could benefit from the exposure they'll receive by being affiliated with your event.
    c. National companies who sponsor similar events.
  2. Craft a proposal letter. The letter should include details about you. Why are you doing Challenge Walk MS? What is Challenge Walk MS? Include the purpose of the fundraising event and the benefits to the sponsor.

    Be specific about what you're looking for: sponsorship to cover event costs? Discounted goods or services? Straight cash donations? In your proposal letter, it is vital to include the cost per sponsorship. As the former VP of marketing for a community bank, I used to receive numerous sponsorship requests without a specific financial request. When I received a letter without a dollar amount, I'd usually approve a $100 donation. While a $100 donation is a nice gift, the charity seeking funding may have been looking for $1,000. Bottom line: if you don't tell the company how much you want, you won't get what you need.

    For a larger event, such as a golf tournament or a dinner cruise, it may be helpful to "tier" the sponsorship levels. For example, as the "Gold Sponsor" the company would receive X; for a "Silver Sponsor," the company would receive Y in benefits.
  3. Identify the person who can say yes. Send your request directly to the person who will approve it. It is absolutely worth it to take the time to call a company and ask who handles corporate donations. That task can fall to the marketing department, community relations, or even the company president.
  4. And finally, the business relationship with a sponsor doesn't end when you receive the check. You have to ensure that the sponsor receives the benefits you offered. Follow up with a thank you letter, detailing specifically how the event reached the goals you set.

Diagnosed with MS in 1994, Patty responded the way many do: she refused to discuss it. It took her ten years to realize that silence isn't the answer. She, her friends and family formed the Blister Buddies for their first Challenge Walk in Cape Cod in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee for the National MS Society’s Greater New England Chapter. In November 2008, she became a member of that Chapter's Board of Trustees.

Want to know more about asking for paid or in-kind sponsorships? Contact Pat Rudolph, National MS Society-Wisconsin Chapter corporate development manager, at or 262-369-7168.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Word of the Day: Celebrate!

by Jackie Piper (with a tip o' the hat to Molly!)

Did you know that every day is a holiday in America? You should be putting on your party hat every morning because we are always celebrating something!  Little did you know that in the week ahead this great nation will pause to honor and celebrate causes, foods, and just some really weird things. 

Thanks to, I was able to compile some of them for you:  Make a Hot Dog Day, National Play-Doh Day, National Wrinkled Raincoat Day, Miniature Golf Day, and (my personal favorite) National Talk Like a Pirate Day. I swear I'm not making this up! I'm not denying that this is a great list of celebration inspiration, but I have a better list as we prepare to make our way to the Alpine Resort and participate in the MS Challenge Walk weekend. 

September 16 - Thank You Day - Take a moment to thank the folks who donated their time, talent and money to get you to your fundraising goal.

September 17 - Pack Your Socks Day - Go ahead and pack some underwear too!

September 18 - Paint The Peninsula Orange Day - It's arrival day and time to get our ORANGE on!

September 19 - Lace Up Your Shoes Day or Let's Do This Day! - All the walking, training, and fundraising brings us to this day and our first step.

September 20 - Hang In There Day - Sore muscles, tired feet and a few random blisters will not stop us now!

September 21 - Finish Line Day - Pump your fist, lift your chin, stand tall and say, "TAKE THAT MS!!"

Let the celebration begin.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Word of the Day: VOLUNTEER

by Jackie Piper

Did you know that we are a nation of givers?  Americans are the most charitable people in the world.
Now that statement should give you your smile of the day. We give not only our money to worthy causes, we give our time.  Here are some hard facts about volunteering in America that just made me bust my buttons with pride to be an American.

By the numbers:

26.5%   The percentage of Americans who volunteer

7.9 billion    The number of hours of service given annually

64.5 million   The number of people who volunteer annually

When you compare Americans with Europe, we shine even brighter.  We are 32% more likely to volunteer than Germans and 21% more likely that the Swiss. 

Not surprisingly, the top ten states for volunteering include six from America's heartland.  And yes, Wisconsin is one of them!  I told you that you'd feel proud!!

Next week, those of us who are participating in the Door County Challenge Walk MS will get to benefit from a very special group of volunteers. If you have been a walker in the past, you know what I mean. If you are a new Challenge Walker, get ready to be pampered, spoiled, supported, fed, treated, and cheered by the most amazing group of people ever. They deserve our most heartfelt thanks for all they do to support the cause of ending MS forever!!