Aside from having to walk up a hill during the Trek Across Maine because i didn’t train enough, my biggest fear was not meeting my fundraising commitment. This is perhaps an irrational fear and yet, that was my concern.
It’s hard to explain where this came from. Like most people, i tend to approach the subject of money with extreme caution. I watched a few friends go through extremely difficult times during the recession and i believe that things are still tenuous at best for others. During the same time frame, we tightened our house hold expenses and continue to try to run a tight ship. As a result, and with a heavy heart, i often don’t help charities or friends with similar fundraising. Who could blame someone for not supporting me when i didn’t help them? And of course, we all remember finding out that the Red Cross used the vast majority of post September 11th Terrorist Attack donations to upgrade their infrastructure…WTF. I’m always leery that my pet cause will suffer the same fate. I’m sure a psychologist would have some label for this, maybe rationalizing my failure in advance?
Turns out that fundraising was an eye-opening experience for me. Friends who i had not spoken to recently generously opened their wallets. Even co-workers were kind enough to donate. With a lot of social media, email blasts and behind-the-scenes help from my Dad*, i managed to exceed my goals.
The result (selfishly), i was entered in the prestigious Trek winners circle. The circle is a very generous way to thank participants who raised $1,000 or more for the American Lung Association. When you check-in for the ride, you are ushered to a special room, greeted with significant fanfare: massive cheers from the volunteers and CEO, and thank you gifts from Trek sponsors. The room is decorated with balloons and all winners circles names and fundraising achievements are posted. Before i forget, thank you LL Bean for that gift card! You have no idea how badly i need a new suitcase!!
The result (bigger picture), is that research to eradicate lung disease and continue healthy air efforts (read: lobbying) will be supported for another year. That’s really the point of the ride and it hits home when you arrive in Bethel. Individuals and team members ride in memory of friends and loved ones. You see lots of jersey’s and buttons honoring people who died after battling lung disease. It’s incredibly moving.
I think, the opportunity to honor a friend or loved one is really what motivates people to participate in the Trek. I mean, it’s not easy to cycle 180 miles, nor is it easy to prepare yourself emotionally for this ride. That’s probably even more true if you are riding in memory of someone. I’m sure some participate because they are training for bigger, longer rides. Others participate for fun or because someone asked them to (duh, me) and that’s fine. What brings people back is the opportunity help and honor someone. And that’s probably the biggest result and most significant result for the Trek.
*Another writers note. Turns out my Dad was absolutely, positively committed to getting me in the winners circle with him. Once he met his fundraising goal, he gently suggested family member’s contribute to my fundraising efforts. That was really sweet because i refused to ask family to support me. I didn’t want anyone to think we were “double dipping.”