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All across America, people keep the FUN in fund raising by joining the MS WALK. Last year, longtime Society member Jane Harmon got in on the action in a big way…

I’ve been receiving services from the National MS Society for about 25 years. For some time, I’ve made it a point to thank businesses that display brochures for events such as the MS Walk or the MS Bike Tours. After all, I benefit from the fund raising.

I’m generally housebound, so it never occurred to me to attend any of the Society’s fund-raising events. Then suddenly last spring I picked up a Walk brochure. I don’t know what got into me!

The Walk in Dallas is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). I couldn’t walk that distance but I knew my scooter was up to the task. Really, all I had to do was sit there. All along the route, volunteers with radios were prepared for anything. Others would be patrolling with vans, ready to pick up anyone who needed a lift. The April weather was comfortable, and there would be lots of refreshments and accessible portable restrooms available along the way.

The thing I hate most about having MS is not being able to plan ahead. But there was no registration penalty if I couldn’t get out of bed that morning. I encouraged my sponsors to pledge a flat donation rather than pledge per kilometer, so I could raise some money even if I couldn’t attend.

My inspiration came just a few weeks before the Walk, so I set a goal of raising $50. I raised over $500! I won a prize too. For my effort, I got a pair of shoes from FootAction USA.

Here’s what I did. The brochure suggested forming a team, so I invited everyone I knew to join me–my family, my friends, my entire church. The Jane Gang was born.

The Jane Gang raised about $1,000 in addition to my $500. A friend who couldn’t walk painted T-shirts for us. I made name tags saying, “I’m Walking on The Jane Gang” and two other friends helped with sun visors. A banner over my scooter made a rallying point. And because some friends wanted to walk in Denton on Saturday and others in Dallas on Sunday, I did both! It was so much fun.

I even raised money during the Walk. I started asking the bicycle officers accompanying us if they had made donations. Later, an officer in a cruiser was teasing us over his PA system. “You’re doing great. Only 25 miles to go!”

When I’d had enough of this, I pulled alongside his open window. “You do realize this is a fund-raising event for the National MS Society, don’t you? Have you contributed?” He said that he had. We chatted briefly and I returned to my troops.

Soon I heard a siren behind me. The officer was pulling me over. I thought I was getting a ticket for using the center line markers to practice my giant slalom technique. Instead, he let a man out of the back of the cruiser who wanted to make a donation!

“Great work! Go collar me some more!” I said, as I reached for my receipts. A passing car stopped; the driver asked what was going on. When I explained what all those thousands of people were doing in the streets of Highland Park on a Sunday morning, he and his mother made donations too.

I can’t wait to do it again. This year, I’ll use my Christmas card list to enlist the help of friends all over the U.S.

Our family and friends so often want to help us but don’t know what to do. I felt so loved and supported when my friends joined me last year. I recommend it, even if you can’t go on the Walk yourself.

Jane Harmon is a registered occupational therapist, active Society volunteer, and knowledgeable bird keeper.

Walk with your family, friends, or co-workers. Organizing a worksite TeamMS is as easy as posting a sign-up sheet in your office. Contact the NMSS chapter in your area for more information, or call 1-800-FIGHT MS [1-800-344-4867]

COPYRIGHT 1996 National Multiple Sclerosis Society

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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