Walk committee chairs share why they love their job

Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Have you ever stopped to wonder what makes this event possible? Or even what makes it so successful?

One word, volunteers.

Each and every Walk event throughout the country has a dedicated team of volunteers who work tirelessly year-round to make Walk day a success. A variety of people with different backgrounds and abilities come together in support of a world without Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association is always looking for new talent to step into these volunteer positions. We asked a few of our current Planning Committee volunteer event chairs what it takes to be the people behind the scenes making Walk day a success.

Good candidates for the committee
“We’re looking for people who have a willingness to learn new skills and grow,” said Marcia Howard, chair of the San Francisco Walk. “It is important to have volunteers who like what they do and become experts doing it.”

Many individuals who join the committee have had a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. “I think it helps to have a passion and a desire to do more for a cause you have a personal connection with,” said Marcia.

Worried about the time commitment? Don’t be. Committee members are asked to donate however much time they can give. There are volunteer opportunities available for everyone.

Chairs shared a few of the potential backgrounds of individuals who might enjoy serving on the Walk committee:

  • Coaching
  • Teaching
  • Financial planning
  • Ministry
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Logistics
  • Community service
  • Event planning
  • Individuals who are well connected through their professional and/or personal experiences
  • Non-profit work

But this list is not all inclusive. “What’s important is that there’s a role for anyone who wants to help and is committed,” says Mary Boyce, co-chair of the Redding Walk.

Many reasons to get involved
People volunteer for a variety of reasons. Some are looking to meet new people, have fun and be part of a team. Others want to spread awareness and raise funds to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Many want to give back to their community, or even learn new skills.

“I enjoy working with amazing leaders who become role models for others on our committee,” said Teresa Mandella, co-chair of the Stockton Walk. “Personally, I get jazzed to lead by example. I’m a top fundraiser and excel at team member recruitment.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that I have a ‘new tribe’ in my life of reliable friends who have my back when I need help or mentoring.”

For Marcia, she says, “I love seeing volunteers join and blossom on the committee. Being on the committee is a great way to learn how to fundraise, improve your salesmanship skills, take on a leadership role or learn new skills for personal and professional development. I think it is working with these bright, motivated individuals that is most inspiring to me.” 

Growing into a leadership role
Committee chairs enjoy helping the committee and Walk teams achieve their goals. “I want us to reach our goals and enable the committee to be successful,” said Marcia. “I want to make our Walk an amazing and memorable day for our walkers, and I want it to be a success by raising the funds we need to find a cure.”

“Committee chairs are fundamental to the work we do here,” said Cheryl Brunk, Senior Director, Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “They motivate and inspire our committee to keep the train moving. Without them Walk wouldn’t be a success.”

“It’s an adjustment leading a team of volunteers, compared to leading a team in a corporate environment, but our volunteers are so committed to the cause,” said Marcia. “They are smart, creative, can-do people with whom I get to work along-side. I love it and I am learning every day.”

Teresa said, “It feels like an elastic band that stretches my capabilities as a leader to bind together precious souls dedicated to targeted goals and a common mission.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee is a year-round volunteer-based group that is always looking for new talent and fresh ideas. If you’d like to learn how you can join this amazing group of individuals, let us know by going to alz.org/walk and click on volunteer. Then we can follow up to give you more information and answer your questions.

Not near a Walk city? We also have a committee for our other fundraiser, The Longest Day. This committee meets via telephone/webinar and has volunteers from throughout our chapter region.

Thank you to Marcia Howard, Teresa Mandella, Mary Boyce and Kelly Valish for your wonderful committee leadership and for your contributions to this blog.

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