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Why Join A Walkathon?
Look around. I bet that you have something you feel strongly about. If you are reading this blog, I imagine you have furbabies and that you probably feel strongly about: rescues, a particular breed, the humane society, perhaps even a service animal organization. Well, guess what? They need money and they probably have an annual fundraising walkathon that helps them bring in the operating cash that they need to stay alive.
Importance Of Joining a Walkathon
I don’t know if walkathons were ever child’s play, but I do know that today, they are major fundraising events that may be the cornerstone of the group’s entire year’s budget. Southeastern Guide Dog’s 2013 Walkathons (there were three held in March) brought in over $500,000!
Before you poo-poo the idea as too much work, no fun. Why should I do that all by myself? Let me let you in on a little secret: You don’t have to do it by yourself! That’s the key. Here are some tips to make participating in a walkathon with your furbaby fun and exciting.
Ways to make the Walkathon more fun
BEFORE THE WALKATHON
Get a Group Together: It’s more fun if you do it with friends! Plus, if your furbabies like each other, so much the better!
Set Fundraising Goals: If the organization doesn’t ask you to set a goal for yourself or your team, make sure you set one for your team. Then, as you reach certain milestones, celebrate and give yourselves some some small rewards: coffee out as a group, dinner together at someone’s house, etc. How about the really important goal of everyone getting a Kong?
Team T-shirts: This is a must have! Nothing says we have conquered this fundraising goal like a team t-shirt.
Destination: Make a plan on where and when you will meet that morning of the walkathon. Make sure everyone has each other’s cell phone numbers. Walkathons are chaotic and nothing is more annoying than being there at the start and not knowing where your group is.
Pick an Alpha Dog: Pick a group leader who will handle all your registration. It would be nice to have a second in command to go with that person to collect all the swag as well (t-shirts, water bottles, etc.). Make sure you bring a big backpack to carry it in or have the alpha dog come early and then run the swag to someone’s car so you don’t have to carry it around all day!
ON THE DAY OF THE WALKATHON
Breakfast and Pit Stops: Make sure that you and your furbaby have had plenty to eat and drink and had an opportunity to potty. I would suggest the group find a breakfast place that lets you eat outside with your furbabies so you can start the fun at breakfast! But, that might not be possible depending on the time of year, location or temperament of your pups.
Water and Water: Bring water for you and for your furbaby. Make sure you have a collapsible bowl or some other device for them to drink out of. If you are at a dog friendly walkathon, they will probably have water in strategic places, but why take the chance if they don’t?
Pay Attention: What is the weather like?
Hot? Watch for signs that you pup may need to rest or may need to be pulled out of the walkathon altogether. Last year, our guide dog pup Jam would get overexcited and his little engine would rev up. So about 1/4 of the way into the walkathon, he threw up. Game over for us. We sat down on the grass and and waved to everyone as they walked by. People we knew would stop and say hello and chat a bit and then walk off. After about 45 minutes of resting we crossed over to the finish line and “finshed” the walkathon. That’s what Jam could do at that time. Know your dog’s limits and be prepared to stop.
Cold? Maybe your pup needs a sweater? Or perhaps he has tender feet and needs those special booties. Only you know what your baby needs. If it is too cold your teacup chihuahua, perhaps the best call is for him to stay home.
Bottom Line: Keep an eye on the weather in case you need to do something special for your pup.
Pay Attention: Where’s Your Dog?
Keep Your Dog within a Two Foot Radius: You hear it all the time, the danger is not going to come from you or your friends. It is going to come from a stranger and their misbehaving dog. If you make sure that your baby is within the zone, you can scoop them up or snatch them out of harm very quickly. You will also be able to quickly see if something is coming up on them. It may mean the occasional trip up, but better that than a bite or worse from some aggressive passing dog.
Make Plans to Meet for Lunch After: If you weren’t able to meet for breakfast, perhaps, meeting for lunch will work out better. At our Southeastern walkathon there is always a big group that meets for lunch later. It has grown to about 35 strong now!
Take Lots of Photos: Capture the memories! This walkathon should be a fun event. You’ve done something worthwhile. You and your friends have raised money for a great organization and now you are out exercising with your furbabies for a cause you believe in. And you all have matching t-shirts.
Did I mention how fabulous you look? Well done!
~ Cheryl Mclean, The McLean Puppy Chronicles