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Organize a Walk / Run for the Disabled

Organize a Walk / Run for the Disabled

If there aren’t any events for the disabled in your area, create your own! Joe has organized his own iWin Runs to benefit the Special Olympics so take a hint from Joe and get in on the fun – here’s how:

Team work
Get a few key people to help you with the first details. Friends, family, teachers or coaches are a good place to start. This will be the main committee for the big event and now’s the time to set a weekly planning meeting for the weeks leading up to the event.

First steps
Decide how many people you can handle signing up for the event before you start publicizing it to all sorts of communities. Also decide what the purpose of the Walk / Run is. Raising awareness for disabilities is a huge issue and a great goal. Raising funds for disabilities care is also important. Pick if you are going to do one or both of these – if you decide to raise funds identify which 501c3-registered non-profit that works in the disabilities field. The Special Olympics is a great place to start and can hook you up with local contacts too. They can also help you organize the Walk / Run if you would like to include disabled members of your community.

Location, location, location
Pick the venue where you plan to have your awareness or fundraising walk. Think local parks, neighborhood loops, and areas near schools and rec centers. These are great places to organize gatherings to kick off the walk / run. Once you’ve got the place picked, get in touch with school administrators, city officials, or rec center directors to get permission to hold the event.

Map it out
Work with city officials to decide what neighborhood route the walk / run will take. A good length walk can be between 2-4 miles. Get permission to have large groups of people walking on your day of choice, and fill out permits if your town or city requires them.

Set a date
Pick a day for the walk / run to take place. Think about seasonal weather and when most people will be able to come. Weekends work best!

Set a fee (optional)
If the purpose of the walk / run is to raise money, instead of just awareness, set a registration fee or a suggested donation amount for each participant and organize a way to collect it (at the event or through the mail)

Get people on board
Once you have all the nitty-gritty details set, it’s time to bring others on board. Get your friends and family to form a bigger team to help you get the word out.

Prepare a program. Once you know people will show up, get a program together to have some fun before and after walking. People will be coming to walk or run, but a few other details will help you put together a well-rounded event. So call up local entertainers and ask them to donate their services for an hour or two. Make sure it’s kid-friendly so everyone can participate! If you can’t get a performer, see if you can get a local vendor to donate weather-proof speakers so you can have some jams at the venue. If you have a disability, put yourself into the program and talk to the crowd about your personal story and why the walk / run even is so important to you. If disabilities don’t affect you personally, try to find someone who has a story about disabilities that they can share with the crowd. Make sure to thank anyone who donates goods or services to the event.

Fun freebies
Call up local caterers and see if they’ll support the cause by donating food for after the event. Ask the community to donate raffle prizes that people can win at the walk / run. The more fun extras, the better! Get creative and brainstorm who might be able to help you in your community. Decorations, food, music, performances, t-shirts, hats, and a– all these freebies help to make an awesome event.

Get the word out
Use the resources you have! Promote the event at school, at church or temple, to after-school sports teams or theater groups, and to communities affected by disabilities (hospitals, clinics, support groups, parent groups, online communities). Making a flier is a simple way to spread the word about the event. Make sure everyone knows that it is to raise awareness, money, or both for the disabilities cause and include a few sentences about people living with disabilities. Check Change for the Children or the Special Olympics for more info on people living with disabilities. Make an online invitation social networking tools like Facebook or Myspace.

Last-minute tidbits
Confirm that all the details above are in place – if people donated items or services, call them shortly before the event to make sure everything is still OK. Make it easy for them to donate. Recruit your friends and family team to really push the word out right before the event.

Show up, and have fun
Show up at the event and have a blast! If you are part of the event’s program, introduce the performers, talk to the crowd about the goal of the walk / run and why the cause of disabilities is so important to you and others who helped organize the day. Enjoy the outdoors, your friends and family and have a great walk / run!

Brag about it
Make sure you get tons of pics and maybe even some video at the event, so you can share it with your community and people who might not have been able to come. You’ll be raising awareness even after the Walk / Run. And keep CFTC in the loop – share you story with us here!
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