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Launching a new WALK!

by Randi Corey, HA Director of Special Events

Although most HA WALKs are scheduled for the fall, in more than 30 cities across the nation HA volunteer Chairs are hard at work, getting their WALKs underway! (All HA WALKs are totally volunteer initiated and coordinated – our volunteer Chairs are HA’s angels!) Chairs are working on securing sponsorship, on recruiting planning and organizing committees and confirming the WALK sites. HA WALKs are growing rapidly – last year HA had 25 WALKs in 22 states which raised more than 40% of HA’s total annual revenue which has allowed us to provide over half a million dollars in direct funding to hydrocephalus research.

For 2011, 11 new WALK sites from across the U.S. – ranging from Washington, DC to Seattle, WA – have already committed. HA is contacted weekly by people who express an interest in starting a WALK in their community.

Starting a new HA WALK – if you’ve ever thought about starting a HA WALK in your area we’d love to speak with you. Although the WALKs are totally volunteer driven, HA doesn’t leave new (or experienced) Chairs hanging out to dry! HA will provide training, a “how-to” manual, experienced staff and mentors to ensure that every new WALK meets HA’s standards and maximizes its potential. We don’t want to mislead anyone, however – it’s a big job – and it’s not for everyone. HA requires all new WALKs have Co-Chairs – while it’s best if the person taking the lead for the event recruits their own Co-Chair, there are times where HA tries to find a Co-Chair to work with a new WALK Chair. For example, currently Los Angeles, CA, and Milwaukee, WI are actively seeking a Co-Chair.

Who makes the best Chair for a new WALK?

Although there are no hard and fast rules about the kind of person who makes a great WALK Chair, and every Chair is different, there are some characteristics that have proven to be common to most Chairs:

  • A good understanding of hydrocephalus (you do not need to be a medical professional, but you do need to be able to convey the issues associated with hydrocephalus with confidence.)
  • A passion for HA’s mission – a belief that HA offers the best hope for improving the quality of life for everyone affected by hydrocephalus
  • Time no one has “spare time” these days and most Chairs weren’t sitting around twiddling their thumbs before taking this on – but someone who’s days are totally packed without an extra minute to spare may find this difficult to fit into their schedule
  • Connections in the community – although not a requirement having a lot of connections in the community (roots, extended family, a large circle of friends) will make some of the essentials (committee recruitment, securing in kind donations) easier; knowing “who’s who” in the area
  • A “people person” – someone who loves to meet new people, someone who never met a stranger
  • A willingness to “ask” – this is one of the most important characteristics of a great Chair, someone who isn’t afraid to ask total strangers for anything and everything – for money, for goods or services, for help. Someone who doesn’t take “no” – or at least the first “no” — for an answer (people with “outside sales experience” tend to be very good at this part); someone who can get other people excited about this event and this cause; someone who doesn’t take it personally when someone tells them “no” and keeps going to the next one
  • A good communicator – someone with good interpersonal communications skills, who speaks well and someone who can handle some limited pubic speaking
  • HIGH ENERGY and Commitment – these are very important attributes of a great WALK Chair – Chairing a WALK, especially a new WALK, requires dedication and commitment and the willingness to go the extra mile – even at 10:00 p.m. when the kids are finally settled in for the night
  • Organized and detail oriented – someone who is very organized, a list maker (and user!) with a good eye for detail
  • A good “manager” who can delegate serving as a WALK Chair requires managing the volunteer committee, sponsors, suppliers and others (current or previous management experience is very helpful); someone who can delegate (extremely important), who can give others ownership of their roles – one or two people cannot do this job by themselves
  • A “recovering” perfectionist/control freak – although having a little bit of perfectionist tendencies or “control” issues is all right (in some ways, even recommended), someone who is a perfectionist and must be in control all the time may not do well in this position; the event will never be perfect and Chairs who insist of controlling every aspect themselves end up doing it all themselves (see delegation above.)

If you checked off a majority of those attributes (we don’t expect anyone to have all of them) and you’re interested in exploring the opportunity to start a HA WALK in your area please contact us to schedule a conversation to discuss this. We’d love to speak with you to find out if this is the right project for you and if it’s the right time! (Although you may be the right person, and this may be the right project, this may not be the optimal time for you to take this on – maybe next year or down the road a bit.) info@hydroassoc.com

Do you want to help but there is already a WALK in your community?

2011 WALKs are scheduled for the areas below:

Birmingham ALMinneapolis MN
Phoenix AZSt. Louis MO
Fresno CAGraham NC
San Francisco CALondonderry NH
Denver COAlbuquerque NM
Hartford CTBuffalo NY
Washington DCLong Island NY
Boca Raton FLCincinnati OH
Atlanta GAPortland OR
Chicago ILMiddletown PA
Columbus INPhiladelphia PA
Wichita KSChattanooga TN
Louisville KYNashville TN
Boston MASalt Lake City UT
Baltimore MDSeattle WA
Livonia (Detroit) MI

If you live in one of these areas and would be willing to help plan and organize the event by serving on the committee we’d love to hear from you, also! Chairs are always seeking “new blood” for the WALK committees. Some characteristics common to Sub-Committee Chairs and committee members include:

Volunteer Role*Background or Experience helpful for this position:
Corporate Sponsorship ChairSales people (pharmaceutical reps, manufacturers’ reps, TV/radio sales — instead of retail or auto), communications professionals, mom/dads of children with hydrocephalus, marketing professionals
Family Teams Chair“At home” Moms of children with hydrocephalus, current/former “front office” staff, HR personnel, telemarketers (someone who is good on the phone and has time to work the phones), teachers, nurses, anyone with a connection to the mission who is passionate about the cause.
Food Service ChairRestaurant owner/manager; food service employees, fast food manager, convenience store manager, grocery store manager/assistant manager, food/beverage distributor staff (don’t forget people who work in corporate or hospital food service)
Accounting/IT ChairAccountants, database managers, bank tellers, executive assistants, bookkeepers, admin support staff, office managers, anyone who is technically proficient and good with numbers
Volunteer Recruitment Chair“At home” Moms, nurse or other staff in neurosurgeon’s office, hospital neuro dept, front desk staff, sales reps (retail or other), executive assistant
PR/Publicity/Media ChairTV/radio station staff (of any level), PR professionals, marketing professionals, advertising agency staff, corporate communications staff, community relations staff

*This is NOT required background or experience for these positions – it is only a list of the types of volunteers that have proven to be extremely successful in these positions! Anyone, interested in any of these volunteer roles, should contact HA to for more information.

We invite you to get more involved – whether by starting a new WALK in your community or signing up to work on the planning/organizing committee of an existing event. Just contact HA for more information at walk@hydroassoc.org.

1 Comments for : HYDROCEPHALUS WALK TIP OF THE MONTH – February 2011
    • Mary Anne Crews
    • March 11, 2011

    I live in a small town, Walterboro, S.C. It is located about 50 miles south of Charleston, SC, home of the Medical University Children’s Hospital. I am an unemployed 57 year old grandmother who has a 6 year old granddaughter with hydrocephalus. She has a VP shunt. She does extremely well and is very smart. She has had to have a couple of adjustments to the shunt, but overall she does well. However, I would love for someone to contact our local hospital, here in Walterboro, to see if someone would be interested in starting a “hydrocephalus walk” or some other fund raising event. The hospital is Colleton Medical Center and the phone number is 843-782-2000. I have always wanted to volunteer for a worthwhile project such as this. Thanks for all of your help.

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