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HA WALKs and Family Teams!

by Randi Corey, HA Director of Special Events

Currently the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) has 30+ WALK sites across the country and many of them are comprised primarily of Family Teams Hydrocephalus Association’s Family Teams are vital to the success (and growth) of our WALKs!

What is a Family Team?

The term “Family Team” is fairly self-explanatory – it’s a team of walkers comprised primarily of family members (immediate and extended) and friends of someone with hydrocephalus.  There is no “required” number of walkers for a Family Team (or any WALK team) – a team may be comprised of 1 person or 1,000.  Each Family Team designates a “Team Captain” – the Team Captain serves as the primary contact for the team, is responsible for recruiting the walkers for the team and ensures all of the team members register to walk before the event.

Family Teams Find Success with Letter Writing Campaigns (& WALK Web pages!)

Statistics gathered over several years have shown that Family Teams using a letter writing campaign to raise money for WALKs will typically raise three times more than a Family Team raising money more traditionally (e.g.,  asking for donations face-to-face.)  The most successful Family Teams use a combination of both!

What is a Letter Writing Campaign?

In a letter writing campaign, the “mission-connected” family shares their personal story in a letter sent to everyone they know (or ever knew!) The letter shares how hydrocephalus has affected the family – the entire family. It speaks to the day-to-day challenges caused by hydrocephalus (never knowing if it’s a headache or shunt malfunction, the need to remain constantly vigilant, etc.) and the current status of the family member with hydrocephalus (last surgery, number of revisions, treatments attempted, etc.) The letter explains the family will be participating in the HA WALK and asks the reader to sponsor their participation in the WALK by making a contribution.  It also provides instructions on how family and friends can make online donations. Some family letters also invite the reader to join their team and walk with them.

The letters are sent (usually using a combination of postal service mail and email) to extended family and friends all over the world. (Holiday card lists, address books, club directories and email address books are good starting places.) Donations are made using credit cards on the Team’s WALK web page and by checks mailed to the family (which are turned in at the WALK.)

Why should a Family Team use a Letter Writing Campaign?

–In addition to the fact that Family Teams using letter-writing campaigns raise more money than Family Teams using more traditional methods, the letter writing campaign serves another important purpose: educating the reader about hydrocephalus. If you are a mission-connected volunteer you already know that one of the biggest challenges of hydrocephalus is that even though hydrocephalus affects more than one million Americans, most people have never heard of it!  They have no idea of what it is, its seriousness, its complications or its effect on the patient and the family.  Nor have they heard of HA. Using a letter writing campaign increases public awareness about the condition and HA.  Often, when a Family Team receives a check in the mail a note will be enclosed saying “thank you for asking me!”

Another Way to Tell Your Personal Story – Using your Team (and individual) WALK Web Pages!

Family Teams have also learned that telling their personal story – just as they did in their letter – on their WALK Team Web Page is also an important component in maximizing the Team’s potential.  When a Team Captain registers their team online (www.hydroassoc.com/WALKs/Schedule of WALK Events) their own Team Web Page is automatically generated.  The Team Captain will receive a hyperlink that can be emailed to prospective sponsors. By following the hyperlink to your Team Page, family and friends can sponsor any team member online using a credit card!  Editing your Team (or personal) WALK Web Page is a snap – allowing you to post photos or changing the text to tell your story – even for those who are not technically inclined!   As with the letter writing campaign, editing your WALK Team Web Page serves a dual purpose:  it’s a great way for family and friends to sponsor participation in the WALK and it’s increasing awareness about hydrocephalus and HA.

If you would like to form a Family Team or use a letter writing campaign to raise money for your local HA WALK please contact us at (888) 598-3789 or walk@hydroassoc.org and ask for a Family Teams Packet.  The Family Teams Packet contains step-by-step instructions on how to conduct a Letter Writing Campaign, sample letters (one for pediatric hydrocephalus and one for NPH) to help you get started on your letter, step-by-step instructions on how to register your team and your walkers, a list of matching gift companies, a “generic” sponsorship proposal (if you know a company that may be interested in sponsoring your local WALK and information about the 2011 WALK incentive program.

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