If you have ever had a wedding, quinceanera, shower or other large party, you know the feeling the morning after. It is like that for non-profits after a special event. You feel happy, exhausted, and amazed by the incredible friends and family you have in your life. Our first annual Walk With Me truly fit this mold. Saturday, at the fantastic Houston Zoo (who were great to work with), we had more than 900 Houstonians walk with us. We thought the event might be a success early on when Think Energy came in as our first corporate sponsor. Toni Williams said, “I love what you do. How can we help.” And that is how is started…We had some super stars there including the gracious and joyful Judy Germany, of Kinder Morgan Terminals, who raised more than $40,000 and inspired us all to do more as well as our Children’s Therapy client, seven-year old Carmen, who raised more than $2,600 to help buy therapy equipment (okay..it did not hurt that she is so stinkin’ cute)! Randall’s held a Cupcake Walk (HUGE hit with the kids) and CVS was there in force as a generous national and local sponsor. We had the amazing Debbie Roff and Girl Scout Troops 18031, 12557, and 18235 who chose us as their spring service project – they created stations for children’s passports to be stamped (like face painting and hula hooping) to win a prize and adopted the slogan “We Are Able”. If everyone was as organized, generous and smart as these Girl Scouts – most of the world’s problems would be solved. When we realized we were going to have three times as many walkers as we had planned for – Shipley’s stepped in at the last-minute to add to the food with donuts. With Roseanne Rogers emceeing, the Texans’ Toro wowing the kids, and the Rocket’s Launch Crew helping us get our groove on-it was a magical day. What was most moving and incredible to me, was that like this great city – our walk included people of all ages, of every race, religion and socio-economic background, with and without disabilities – all together just enjoying each other and a beautiful day together. It was a chance for our supporters to meet some of the families we serve, to meet our ambassadors, the Salas Family, Matthew Stephenson, Hector Avila and Tom Bailey, for children to see kids with disabilities doing the same things they do, for a city to really shine. When we set our goals last year for our first walk, we hoped to have 300 walkers and to raise $50,000. We had over 900 walkers, 130 volunteers and raised $130,000 and counting!! We suggested that if you joined us, the life you changed might just be your own – well, in every respect, I think we delivered.
By Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals Greater Houston