It Takes One Step To Make a Difference
We found a location and picked a date. She found walkers, I found local businesses to give us prizes for the walkers. It was a learning experience for both of us. Much of it was met with a "Now we know for next time."
Why were we thinking that way?
This was just a project for class, right?
Yes. And no, too. See, the grade is one thing-we want to do well. BUT this group inspires us that we want to do more. Each visit, each phone call to a member of their board and we became emotional with how much a few parents of special needs kids can do when they put their minds to it.
The past few days, I've been pounding the pavement in search of those donations. What I learned is that local businesses want to help the locals. Any corporate owned entity I went to (save one), told me I need to fill out a bunch of forms and they'd have an answer in four to six weeks. On the other hand, every local place I visited, as soon as I said what I was doing, they'd reach in the drawer for gift certificates.
I focused on businesses my family patronizes. My first stop was Rita's Italian Ices and the manager gave us ices AND coupons for all the walkers. Five Guys gave coupons for 2 free meals. Mt. Fuji gave a gift certificate. And so it went: Subs and Such, Buddy's BBQ, Harry's , Moe's Tex Mex and then Sweetbay gave us water.
This morning dawned perfect. My phone started ringing early-where are we meeting? Giving directions. Getting Game Teen situated at his water station and then getting two Noah's Ark members to his location.
A couple of classmates showed up. The professor and her daughter. A TON of Noah's Ark people. Jessica's mom and brother and a few of her neighbors and accountant's son. With a send off from our professor, the walkers headed down the path.
Then, the next hour or so, I spoke with three of the Noah's Ark parents and a couple of the residents who manned the table with me. They all were so appreciative (while I'd spent the past week thinking I hadn't done nearly enough). We were invited to join them for an early Thanksgiving feast, to Christmas caroling and to join them for various weekly activities.
We all talked about how as a parent of a special needs child, you tend to be isolated. Noah's Ark was formed out of a support group that was begun to combat that isolation. I'd mentioned that we drive 30 miles for scouts because the troop is so good with Neil-and found that their are two Eagles and a Star scout among their ranks.
One lap around the lake later, the group was back and we all had made new friends. Raising funds for them was the goal, but we got so much more from the event.
The executive director and his wife were talking last night and gave Jessica and I a great idea: why not challenge the other colleges in Lakeland to see who can raise the most money and/or get the most walkers? The idea is great-it gets more exposure for Noah's Ark, raises more money, gets some friendly rivalry going and now that we know what we're doing, it'll be even more successful.
So, who's sponsoring us next year?