Every month we will feature a new Fundraiser Spotlight that highlights an individual or team that is going above and beyond in their efforts to raise funds and awareness for Walk MS. Do you have a compelling story to tell and want to be spotlighted on this page? If so, contact email@example.com.
Stompin’ Out MS is exactly what Walk MS and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are working to accomplish through research, advocacy and education. That also happens to be the Walk MS team name created by Monica Wojnicki, whose dedication and passion for Walk MS since her diagnoses 14 years ago is awe-inspiring. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was just 19 years old. After being diagnosed, Wojnicki heard about the annual Walk MS event through the MS Society and wanted to get involved. She aspired to become an advocate for herself and others living with MS, so she signed up for the Walk.
Last year, team Stompin’ Out MS raised over $4,000, and this year they have their eye on the prize with an impressive goal of over $5,000. Wojnicki and her family have rallied all of their friends and co-workers around their cause, enlisting over 20 team members to join them in their efforts to raise money for MS research.
So how is team Stompin’ Out MS doing so well? Wojnicki utilizes the online donation page provided via the MS Society. She posts a link on her Facebook page at least once a week to remind her friends to give a little bit and support her cause. Her husband’s company also sponsors her team, and she wants to secure even more sponsors. Wojnicki even has special t-shirts made for her team members to wear during the Walk, showcasing the team name and honoring her battle with MS.
As a Walk MS veteran of over 14 years, Wojnicki’s favorite part of the Walk was seeing her friends and family wearing their Stompin’ Out MS team t-shirts with the saying, “I Walk for Samantha and Madeline’s Mom [Woinicki]” last year. Seeing her loved ones making such a huge effort to raise money and participate really means a lot. Her daughters love the Walk and look forward to it every year, asking each time, “Are we going to do the walk this year?” For Woinicki, the energy and collective atmosphere of the Walk cannot be articulated without being there. “The energy that is there is huge, seeing people coming out in wheelchairs or canes to walk for this cause. Everyone wants to support and be an advocate. You can’t feel it until you are actually there, and it’s so inspiring, seeing all the people participate in the Walk.” Woinicki’s passion and dedication inspire us to work even harder to end multiple sclerosis. You can join Woinicki and her team by participating in Walk MS on May 4. Remember to donate to her team to help them surpass their $5000 goal!
Mark Tiger: Team Oscar
Mark Tiger has been participating in Walk MS for close to 20 years, and he continues to be a strong advocate of MS awareness as well as raising funds to find a cure. He is so dedicated and passionate about Walk MS that he challenged his friends to increase donations in exchange for walking the five- mile course twice. Last year, he walked the course at 5:30 a.m. with his dog, and it provided a space for him to truly reflect on the Walk and the importance of his involvement in it. Later that morning, when he walked the course again with the other walkers, he observed a man pushing his wife in a wheelchair the entire five miles. This showcased the importance of the Walk and everyone’s commitment to the cause.
Although he has dealt with some scary situations due to his multiple sclerosis, Mark is fortunate to live a normal life with a great family, a job that allows him to travel and the ability to spend active time with his dogs. However, he understands that others with MS are not able to do so and suffer daily. Mark says, “I am ‘Blessed with MS’ because it has enabled me to work toward a cure and walk for those who can’t.” As someone personally affected by the disease and as a loved one to his sister and niece who also have MS, Mark knows the hardships associated with the disease.
A world free of MS looks “achievable” to Mark. When he was diagnosed in 1989, there were no treatments for MS, and look how far we have come today. In his 25th year living with MS, Mark looks at the tremendous advancements that have been made and believes a cure is in our future.
Walk MS raises MS awareness and funds to help find a cure. It unites a great group of people for the same cause, a group Mark would like to see grow. So bring your dogs and join Mark and Team Oscar at the West Suburbs: Naperville MS Walk on May 4. Help Mark by donating to his team and even joining as a virtual walker if you cannot attend the event!
Ilana Friedman is so dedicated to Walk MS and supporting the efforts to discover a cure for the disease that she participated in last year’s Chicago Lakefront walk despite it being a week before her scheduled due date. When friends and family asked her if she was really going to participate in the walk while nine months pregnant, Ilana wasn’t even fazed as she was determined to participate.
Ilana walks for her mother, who was diagnosed 16 years ago. Her mother is her role model, and Ilana walks to honor and support her. The walk allows her to form a connection with her mom and express how much she cares. Ilana is a veteran Walk MS participant as she participated in the Walk for the first time back in high school. While at college in Boston, her and her friend, whose mother also has MS, formed Team Miles for Moms as a way to support their mothers. Now Ilana and Team Miles for Moms can be found each year participating at the Chicago Lakefront Walk location.
Every year, Ilana and Team Miles for Moms raise an impressive $2,000-$2,500, and Ilana works hard to maintain that fundraising goal. She utilizes Facebook to help with her fundraising efforts. She changes her Facebook cover photo to a collage of past Walk photos and a link to her donation page. She personally thanks each donor on Facebook with a link back to her donation page. Ilana also makes emails and personal phone calls to family friends who aren’t as social media savvy.
Ilana says that people should participate in the Walk because “giving money is wonderful and people should donate to this amazing cause, but the walk itself brings everyone together and the culmination of all the hard work spent fundraising. The event promotes awareness for the disease and is a fun event that brings people together.”
This year’s Walk will be extra special for Ilana and her family as her son, who was born six days after the 2013 MS Walk, will be there and the family tradition of Walk MS will officially be passed on to the next generation. Help support Ilana and Team Miles for Moms.
I was first drawn to Walk MS by my neighbor, Meghan Melone. She's an amazing person, diagnosed at 14, and one of the most inspiring people I know. Walking with her team, Ohana, was an exciting way to show support for her, my dad and everyone involved.
My dad loves hockey. He used to play and coach, but he can't skate anymore - I know it drives him crazy. He has Secondary-Progressive MS. After some brainstorming, we came up with Shoot Forza Cure, a hockey shooting station to help fundraise at our Walk MS team site. Shooters had the opportunity to score goals, win autographed prizes and support a great cause. My most memorable experience was my dad standing up to shoot hockey pucks!
I started my own team called Team Forza (means strength in Italian) at Walk MS 2012 in Chicago's Northwest Suburbs. In 2013, we grew to 70+ walkers, and this year I’m expecting over 100.
I also decided to get involved with the Walk MS Committee because I wanted to share my knowledge in business development, marketing and advertising. It's another way I can make an impact and help raise awareness and funds for MS research. I'm working on corporate sponsorships, finding partners to support events and help offset costs.
Cie Pace first encountered the Greater Illinois Chapter by chance, but a weekend spent volunteering at Bike MS 2005 was enough to get her hooked. At the time, she did not know anyone living with MS, but she was a regular on the volunteer circuit, helping out with the American Brain Tumor Association, the Edward Hines VA, and many other organizations. When Cie’s employer, Xerox Corporation, organized a group to serve as rest stop workers for Bike MS, she gladly joined in. She hasn’t missed a weekend since.
“It was a fantastic experience, and it gave me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I love giving back and supporting my community, and so I have continued my participation by becoming a rest stop captain for every Tour de Farms weekend since.”
Cie’s commitment to the Society does not stop there. She is currently on the Northwest Suburbs Walk MS committee, serving as the volunteer lead. At work, she has coordinated with co-workers to implement many fundraising events in the workplace, including bake sales, smoothie sales, and the creation and sale of a 300-page cookbook with employees’ favorite recipes. In addition, Cie created the “Hot Dog Combo Lunch Day,” an annual workplace event featuring a picnic lunch and raffle. Raffle prizes are donated by co-workers and community sponsors who Cie contacts herself, many months before the event.
“I wanted to do more, so I approached the Xerox Community Involvement Program leader about fundraising at work,” she said. “They were eager to help make it happen, and we’ve raised a couple thousand dollars over the past few years. This success can be attributed entirely to my fantastic coworkers, who support the Society so much with their money and their time!”
While Cie finds satisfaction in giving her own time and energy as a volunteer, she is happiest when she can teach others to do the same. “Cie’s Family and Friends,” as she calls it, is a group of relatives, friends, and co-workers that volunteer with her at Bike MS every year.
“I have nieces and nephews that started volunteering with me at age four or five, helping with a PB&J assembly line making sandwiches for the bikers,” she said. “Now, they’ve dedicated themselves to more and more service projects they’re always giving back. My grandma taught me that you have to open your heart to others if you want to see how truly blessed you are. Now, I get to pass along that message.”
I first got involved in Walk MS after a really close friend was diagnosed in 2002. I saw the impact that MS had and the challenges it brought, so I wanted to do something. My friend actually found out about the walk and wanted to do it, so I joined her. We walk in St. Charles and our team name is The Happy Group, which was named by my friend’s daughter.
This year we are doing something new and it’s called The Chip Shoppe Online Fundraiser. I first got introduced to this fundraiser through my son’s school and it was great because it didn’t just offer one thing. It offers a variety and has better choice because it’s all something people can use. It’s online accessible and the products get sent out directly. The best part of this is that 40% goes back to the society. *To view the fundraising site, go to www.thechipshoppe.com. Click on “shop online” and enter student ID number "7770701" This will bring you right to The Happy Group’s campaign page 40% of profits on items purchased will be donated to MS Society.
I like being able to do something for someone else and get my family involved as well. For me it’s all about helping out in the community and giving back.
I’m Keith Thrasher and I was asked to get involved [in Walk MS] by JoDana Kestner because her mother is living with MS. At first she asked my wife to get involved to makes cakes & cupcakes, and then they reached out to me. I thought this was a great cause and decided to get involved as well.
I own a guitar shop in Pontiac called KWT Guitars, which is a side business of mine that I’ve had for about five years. I build, customize and repair guitars. I built a guitar for JoDana’s Walk MS team raffle, which is bright orange and has the MS logo. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.
The guitar was brought to different events and vendor fairs to increase interest and funds for MS. The winner of the raffle decided to donate it back for a second raffle to raise more funds, so it will be raffled off again.
I think everyone should get involved in something and this is a great cause to get involved with.
My name is Michelle Abercrombie and I have been participating at Walk MS Peoria for 10 years. A year before I got involved I was diagnosed with MS. My brother told me about Walk MS during the first year of my diagnosis when I was having a hard time coming to terms, but this event has given me the opportunity to come out once a year to raise money and help find a cure. It’s my way to give back.
This year, I’m the team captain of Team Pharmacy. Every year the team captain role rotates between me and three other people with MS at my work. We have about 100 people in our department at the hospital, but since we work weekends, we usually get about 10-15 people to come out day of.
My most memorable Walk MS experience was the year that my brother and sister flew in from Florida to come be a part of the event and they had the Bradley University cheerleaders do a cheer for me at the walk. My mom is my number 1 caregiver, but it’s nice to have everyone come out that day and hold my hands to cross the finish line together.
This year my goal is to raise $1,500 - 2,000. One of the ways we fundraise is through a Delavan Quilt Guild that my mom is a part of in the community that is building quilts to raffle off through ticket sales. We have used family to hand out tickets to reach a larger audience. I have also asked people at my work in my department as well as family and friends.
My name is JoDana Kestner & I'm currently the top fundraiser for Walk MS Peoria. This will be my fourth year participating in Walk MS as part of Joanna's Jaywalkers. My mom, Joanna Shibley has MS and each year we have around 15 team members consisting of family & friends who come out to support her.
Our team meets by the team tent that we earned through fundraising for being one of the top teams the previous year. Each year we come out to show our support for the cause.
So far this year we have fundraised by having a bake sale & a guitar raffle to support the cause.
We are looking forward to September 8 in Peoria & you can spot us in our Joanna’s Jaywalkers team t-shirts!
My name is Bo Barrett and I am 2 ½ years old. My mom (owner) was diagnosed with MS in November 2011. I joined The Misfits this year, so far there are six team members, but it may soon be more.
My mom participated in the walk last year and since I can’t get a job to help pay for my food, treats, toys, and beds (which my brother constantly chews up and ruins), I thought this would be a fantastic way to support her!
Since I am just a dog I only signed up for a $250 goal. I don’t have that many friends who have money. That’s why I am reaching out to all the animal lovers out there who want to help me help my mom. I have contacted local vets and animal emergency centers, my mom doesn’t let me go out by myself, I can’t drive so that it why I am asking you to spread the word about me.
A world free of MS would be wonderful! My mom and so many other people would feel so much better! I am super excited about attending this year though. I imagine the best part would be supporting my mom. Otherwise sneaking some table food that I hear they serve at this event (which I never get at home) and giving people as many kisses as I can would be a great time too! I am a lab, so those behaviors are just expected of me. My dream is to one day be the MS mascot!
My name is Jodi Bonnell and I have lived with MS since 2004. Last year, I planned to participate in the National MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter’s Walk MS for the first time, and I had planned to keep my team small—just my husband & I—and walk at the Lakefront in Chicago. When word spread among my friends and family that I was going to walk and fundraise for MS, my intimate team of two began to multiply by the day. Before long, Walk MS St. Charles team Keep on S’myelin was formed, and I had dozens of supporters helping me fundraise and raise awareness for the disease.
My original intent was to get a small team together, enjoy a fun day at the Walk, and hopefully raise $500. We ended up raising $4,390 and finishing 12th for overall fundraising out of over 100 teams in St. Charles, and 104th out of 1,050 in Illinois.”
Once I formed my team, I immediately began fundraising through Facebook. I created an event page for the Walk and asked everyone I knew to support me and help reach my goal. Once my friends began asking their friends to give, I saw my fundraising dollars quickly grow, and it’s that sort of growth that keeps me motivated for the years to come.
I am determined to keep going and work harder than ever. After dealing with various symptoms for the past nine years, my Walk MS experience has shown me how comforting and empowering reaching out to others can be.
On May 5, my team will join hundreds of participants in St Charles and thousands of others statewide in the movement to create a world free of MS.
I participate and look forward to Walk MS simply for the sheer happiness and joy I feel when I see everyone come out and show their support. It’s a truly wonderful day.
My name is Mark Tiger and I have been participating in Walk MS since the mid 1990’s. This will be my 25th year in August of beating MS and raising awareness. This will also be the first year creating a team with my wife and son; hopefully some friends will join too. Our team name is Team Oscar, named after my hunting dog, and we will be at Walk MS 2013 in West Suburbs.
I have always spoken openly about MS to create awareness and not to have people feeling sorry by staying positive. I consider myself an advocate by making people aware whether it is my friends, business contacts or family.
Fundraising is very important and I think some people might be afraid of asking for money, but any amount will help. I start my Walk MS personal & team pages early because people only have so much to give, so I try to hit them early by asking for help. Then I post my pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, social media is such a big thing that gets people’s attention. This resulted in friends I had not seen in years and old friends (who did not know I had MS) donating. I also email it for people who aren’t on social media.
I use my personal page to share my story of why I fight. Even though people may think of MS as the worst case, it’s not the same from everyone. I walk for those who can’t. I have a sister and a niece who battle MS as I do on a daily basis and I am walking for them more than for me.
After people donate I acknowledge them personally and then after the Walk I send a personalized thank you card to every donor.
Seeing so many people that gather together for one common cause, whether they are walking for themselves or for others it’s just a great day to be a part of.
MS will never stop me from achieving my goals!
My name is Sylvia Kemp and I was diagnosed with MS in 1992. I’ve participated in Walk MS for three years and in 2011, I became a team captain for team MS Mission Possible, which consists of 46 members. We ranked fourth overall in fundraising, securing $36,494; in addition, I ranked second overall, raising $23,312.
My first year at Walk MS I saw a man who was determined to walk the route. At the time, I was in a wheelchair, and I watched him struggle his knees kept locking and he could not straighten his legs — but he was determined to do it. I watched his determination in the face of this, often-times, all-encompassing disease, and it took my breath away. It was then that I too became determined to find a cure. Living with this disease is where my path has brought me —from running up to 50 miles a week in 2005 to now walking with a cane — and I feel like I’m just getting started. Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice in my head that says “I’ll try again tomorrow.” I walk so that no future generations will have to face what I have had to.
This year, I’m walking for a cure.
Belinda James, a member of team South Cook MS Self Help Group in Orland Park, the top Walk MS fundraising team in Illinois, found a great way to fundraise for Walk MS. She approached a local Chili’s restaurant, asking if they would be able to help fundraise for her team by giving back a percentage of a patron’s bill who visited the restaurant if they presented a special MS coupon.
The manager was able to not only get his Chili’s involved but all Chili’s restaurants in Illinois. She quickly spread the word through her Facebook, school fundraisers, within her support group and through working with the Walk MS Coordinator. In just a few months, she was able to raise over $2,700, contributing to the $70,063.73 her team raised for Walk MS 2012.
Hosting a third-party fundraiser, like this one, is easy and very rewarding. There are many ways to get your local businesses involved in our mission; most times you need only ask. We’re here to help you, for more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Cheer up, Sleepy Jean. Oh, what can it mean. To a daydream believer. And a homecoming queen." ~Daydream Believers, Monkees
My name is Shawna Martell and I'm a huge fan of the Monkees and Davy Jones. I personally decided to join Walk MS in memory of Davy Jones and Deborah Jane Wilkinson. Deborah was Davy's niece who passed away from MS in 1995. When Davy passed away in 2012, his family asked that donations be made in Deborah's memory.
This will be my second year participating in Walk MS Urbana as the team captain of Daydream Believers, inspired by my favorite Monkees' song. Last year my team raised $6,557. One of the ways we raised money was through bake sales, where we sold my friends cupcakes in my office.
Being a part of Walk MS has made me appreciative of people from my work and the community who come together for something greater. I will continue to walk because even though Davy couldn't pick me out of a crowd, it gives me something to help make sure that his memory live on.
FUNDRAISER SPOTLIGHT - 2012
Traci Sullivan & Team Traci's Troops (Walk MS 2012: Peoria)
Team Traci’s Troops likes to joke that they take a bite out of MS…literally! Orange sugar cookies from Team Captain Traci Sullivan's son-in-law, orange pom-poms, orange balloons, and kazoos are some of the fun traditions the team carries on from year to year. The Team's inaugural walk was September 2009, seven months after Traci was diagnosed with MS.
Their continued success is a result of hard work mixed in with lots of fun. Now with 27 team members, Traci and her Troops look forward to Walk MS every year. It's a day surrounded by friends and family, proving that Traci and others living with MS are not alone. In 2011, the team raised $4,400. Best wishes for even greater success this year!
Madelyn Walters & Team Suzie's Striders (Walk MS 2012: Urbana)
Madelyn Walters, Team Captain of Suzie’s Striders, is a Walk MS fundraiser for severak reasons. The first is to show support for her mom and others who live with MS. Another reason is to make her dad regret promising to match any amount that her team raises! This year, their goal is an incredible $10,000--so watch out, dad! Teammates helping her achieve this goal include her brother, Jacob, sister Jacqueline, and friend Jamie, and they're more than a quarter of the way there.
Madelyn was first introduced to Walk MS in 1995 after her mom was diagnosed and her parents registered to walk. But it wasn’t until 2011 that she first participated, herself. This year, she became a Team Captain. Madelyn hopes to create some lasting traditions for her team like team t-shirts and rallies. Good luck on reaching your fundraising goal, Striders!
Kirsten Burrow & Team Walking for Monica (Walk MS 2012: Peoria)
Team Walking for Monica first got together in 2007 in honor of the daughter of a Cornerstone Learning Center employee--but it wasn't until Kirsten Burrow took over as Team Captain in 2011 that things really began to get going. Kirsten inspired the team to get serious about fundraising, and the success is apparent--this year, they're a Top Team! Twenty-four members strong, Team Walking for Monica raises fund for the movement to end MS in a variety of ways, including silent auctions, raffles, and garage sales, to name just a few.
After every walk, Kirsten and the team go to Buffalo Wild Wings and reminisce about all the fun they had along the way. They walk to remind people to keep up the fight. Equally importantly, they also walk to let people who have MS know that they support them and want them to be free of the disease. With Walk MS, no one goes it alone.