2012 WALKs and Special Events – The Year in Review

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by Randi Corey, National Director of Special Events and Volunteer Support

When I was a child one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving Day was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade from New York City on television. One of the tidbits of information they imparted that impressed me, even at that young age, was that the day after the parade they would start working on next year’s parade.
As I grew older I understood that better – that many things in life are not in a straight line but circular.

As it is with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so it is with HA’s WALKs and Special Events. Since the majority of HA’s WALKs occur between September and November, one could make a case that HA has a “WALK season” although I, and probably many of our volunteer WALK Chairs, might disagree. Just like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as the last WALK is held, we start working on next year’s events. HA WALKs and events are a year-round endeavor.

2012 started out as usual. Several established WALKs and special events wouldn’t be returning for 2012. Some new volunteers stepped up, adding new WALKs/Special Events to the calendar. We hoped these would result in a “positive net” — more new WALKs/events (and revenue) than the previous year.* However, some of the new events did not come to be for various reasons, resulting in only a small increase in the number of events over the prior year.

By early February we were on a roll – WALK Chair training meetings had been scheduled and were underway, new volunteers for established sites were in the process of being recruited…and then HA announced we were relocating the national office and closing the San Francisco facility at the end of July, which would result in major staff changes. This was also the year for HA’s biennial conference, scheduled for June 26-July 1 in Bethesda, MD and an exciting new HA Research Conference, scheduled for early July in Seattle. Although we expected these elements could complicate the workings of our heretofore fairly well-oiled machine, we truly didn’t appreciate the extent of the challenges that would accompany these reforms and new ventures.

Looking back at 2012, in many respects I will always think of this year as a test…especially testing the patience of our WALK and event Chairs…as well a tremendous demonstration of their tenacity and determination. In addition to all of the usual work to bring their event to fruition they were challenged in ways they, or we, couldn’t have imagined. Some of the obstacles they encountered were the national WALK/SE department being understaffed for several months, the office relocation from the west to east coast (packing, moving, unpacking) accompanied with a complete turnover in national administrative staff and the learning curve for new staff. Things that previously had run smoothly and almost seamlessly didn’t this year. Tasks that the volunteer Chairs were accustomed to HA handling for them automatically…weren’t. Email responses took a bit longer, there were some delays in delivery of materials topped off by some major errors by a new vendor. It also required national staff trying to become expert in fundraising software on the fly and numerous other frustrations — great and small.

Despite all of the frustrations, HA’s WALK and special events Chairs stayed the course. They did more themselves. They followed up, they asked, they nagged when necessary but they never once threw up their hands and said “I’m done – I don’t need this!” (Although I’m sure more than one considered it….) They came through like the champions they are. Their drive, their passion, their determination and their willingness to do the hard work in less than ideal circumstances, indeed, makes them one of HA’s most valued resources.

Thanks to our WALK/SE Chairs and their dogged tenacity, I’m pleased to announce that current year-end projections is that HA WALKs and special events will achieve (and perhaps exceed) its $1,006,000 goal!

Now that the major dust has settled and new staff is in place, our WALK and Special Event Chairs have our promise that we will do everything in our power to bring WALK/SE support back up to its previous high standards. Knowing our Chairs, they won’t be afraid to hold us to it. And so I reflect, if this is what we can accomplish with all of these challenges, what can we do when we don’t have these distractions?

Special thanks and gratitude to all of this year’s WALK/Special Event leaders for their patience, caring, dedication and determination. You made it happen!

Event Category City/Market State Chair/Co-Chairs
WALK Birmingham AL Lauren Morrow
Nalini Patel

WALK Phoenix AZ Maggie Bobrowitz
Jill Diedrich

School WALK Capri Elementary School (Campbell) CA Debra Graham

WALK Fresno CA Kelly Fjelstrom/td>
Cheryl Merrell

WALK San Francisco CA Maureen Pardi
Miaja Rocciola

WALK Denver CO Phyllis Rogers

WALK Steamboat Springs CO Christian & Laura Karch

WALK Hartford/New Haven CT Jenifer Jeans

Run/WALK Washington DC Barrett O’Connor
Martha Fleury

WALK Smyrna DE Katie Wilber

WALK Southern Florida FL Eileen Rodger

WALK Atlanta GA Jen Taylor
Kymmi Wilson

WALK Chicago IL Stacy Buckner
Katie Cook
Zahadita Kudrna
Andrea O’Shea

WALK Columbus IN Sarah Billman
Elizabeth Shafer

WALK Wichita KS Mary Havens
Rachel Inskeep

WALK/Concert Louisville KY Jennifer Bruce
Brittney Neidig

WALK Boston MA Jennifer Martinage
Jennifer Miles

WALK Detroit MI Dan and Sara Naragon

WALK Minneapolis MN Heather Sorenson

WALK St. Louis MO Maurice Woodruff

WALK Graham NC April Brantley

WALK Londonderry NH Lisa Barton
Melissa Remillard

WALK Albuquerque NM Kathy Carrillo
Karen McCabe

School WALK Eugene Auer Elementary School
(Long Island)
NY Mia Padron

WALK Long Island NY Jackie Davidson
Mia Padron

WALK Cincinnati OH Julie & Shawn Robinson

WALK Portland OR Jerrod & Tara Miller

WALK Middletown PA Jackie Fullerton
Danielle Gutshall

WALK Chattanooga TN Chara McLaughen

WALK Nashville TN Melissa Arsenault
Genia Hastings

WALK Houston TX Margaret Powers

WALK Salt Lake City UT Sarah Ann Whitbeck

WALK Seattle WA Paul Gross
Gena Azar

WALK Milwaukee WI Patti Lampien
Cassie Siebenlist

2012 Special Events
Birthday Celebration Miami FL Glenn Ebert

Extreme Athletes
(Marathon-type events)
Nationwide US n/a

MX for Children Houston, Salt Lake City, Seattle,
St. Louis, Las Vegas, Toronto
MO, NV &
Ontario, Canada
Paul Gross

Nashville Legends Concert Mt. Pleasant MI Angie Raulerson

Richardson’s Farms
Craft Show
White Marsh MD Les Richardson
Ben Simpkins

Spirit of America Ride Tampa, FL to Denver, CO FL Mark Paulissen
Mary Sodano

Team Hydro Swims for
a Cure/Sharkfest
Alcatraz/San Francisco
Potomac River/Newburg
Pam Finlayson
Peter Finlayson
Sam Finlayson

Thanks for Running
(15th Annual)
Fitchberg MA Amy Maynard

Thomas A Simms Jr.
Masons Lodge # 170
Poker Run
Oak Grove KY Robert S. (Steve) Taylor

Zelesky Event Pottstown PA Eric & Sara Zelesky

Zumba-thon Miami FL Roxana Ramos

*Since all HA WALKs and special events are 100% volunteer initiated and volunteer coordinated when a WALK or special Event Chair resigns it can unfortunately often result in HA losing that site/event and its revenue until new volunteer leadership steps up to bring it back or keep it going.


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