By Jenna Ellis, Co-Chair of HA’s Detroit, MI WALK
In the past, (hydrocephalus) WALK Chairs have gotten to know each other through emails and brief encounters at conferences. There was always a feeling that more time was needed to talk about WALK. This year veteran WALK Chairs from all over the United States gathered in one room in order to share ideas, get to know one another, and receive the greatest gift of all, “The Manual…”
Excitement was high as we stepped into the hotel that Friday night. Some people had already arrived, as others were expected to come later in the evening. A dinner was planned in order for everyone to get to know each other before we spent the whole next day getting educated on how to implement new ideas into our old ways. Everyone gathered at a local restaurant to share laughs and stories; this night was vital because we were able to see how much we had in common and that made everyone feel comfortable for the exciting day that followed.
Saturday morning everyone woke up well rested and full of questions. After breakfast, Randi passed out Powerpoint slides for us to follow along with. Soon after that we got the 2011 WALK Chair Manual. The first thought I had was that I shouldn’t open it because I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Not only did we have all of the materials we could possibly think of in our hands, but we also learned how to download a program called Dropbox so we had the resources on our computers as well. Although the plan may have been to have a discussion at the end of the presentation; having a room full of veteran WALK Chairs made that impossible. Ideas were flying, questions were a must and WALK fever had begun.
Randi had addressed our concerns about Corporate Sponsors, Family Teams, Family Kickoff Party, The Day of the Event, and how important it is to DELEGATE. I began realizing how valuable our WALKS are to the HA and how important it is that we do not do everything on our own. A successful WALK is only possible with the support of our community and the wonderful volunteers that we trust to work side- by- side with us. After a very informative presentation by Randi, we were then on to Social Media and the nuts and bolts of our fundraising site; this is Jennifer Bechard and Jordan Faigen’s forte. They were great at explaining Facebook and really made us understand why Social Media has become so important; it also is a wonderful way for WALK Chairs to continue to share insight with one another. We finished our night with another wonderful dinner and everyone was pretty tired from the day’s events.
In the morning, we had a brief wrap- up and then most of us had to get to the airport in the early afternoon. It was sad to say goodbye to North Carolina, but you could tell that many of us were itching to start putting some of the ideas we had discussed into action. I can admit that at first I was feeling overwhelmed, but then Randi stressed that this is a process and not every idea will be implemented this year. With that being said and the organization that Randi has executed, I was instantly consumed with excitement. I think I can speak for everyone that we went home ready to work and to have a wonderful WALK season. It has become clear how essential it is to find people with the same passion and to converse about the many reasons why we WALK.