Well, today was the big day.
Today was the culmination of about a month of preparation, promotion, organizing, and collaborating.
Today was the 5K Walk for Gage.
I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep just stressing about the rest of the day.
I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe 25 people would show up, or maybe 2500 people would show up. I had no idea if all the hard work would be a success or if it would be an embarrassing failure.
I arrived at 7:00 a.m. at the school, and started setting up with the custodian and a couple of students who had volunteered. My ten year old son was also with me, and he helped too.
Little by little, more volunteers showed up, and they started decorating with banners and balloons, moving tables, chairs, and setting up those portable canopies.
Still, I was nervous about how many people would actually come and walk.
As the starting time grew closer, more and more people started arriving.
I began to think, “Maybe this is going to work.”
When 11:30 a.m. – the start time for the event – arrived, there were people everywhere. They really showed up. There were whole families, teachers, kids, even dogs.
I couldn’t help myself – I laughed aloud.
I took the microphone, and began the opening ceremony with a loud and extremely sincere, “Thank you all for coming.”
After having some people come up and say a few words – my co-coordinator, the principal, a member of the school board, and the family we were there to support – I had the DJ sound an air-horn, and the walk began.
I looked out, and people were actually walking around the field. The music was playing, and people were walking. It was actually happening. Again, I had to laugh.
By the end of the event, we had raised almost $6000 to help Gage’s family and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I wanted to include some of the lessons I learned through this experience here in this post – just in case I do this again.
1. Get as many volunteers as possible.
I was thinking that I would have too many volunteers, but I found was that not all students who volunteer are workers. The bigger the pool, however, the more real workers you will find. Even though I had over 40 students sign up, I relied on maybe 10 students to do most of the work.
2. Anticipate possible problems.
I thought about what could go wrong, and I created “fixes” for those glitches. In doing this, I was forced to modify the plan, and I realized that I ended up creating a better plan. For example, I was going to draw winners to the raffle prizes we had during the walk. The question, “What if they are walking when they hear their name?” They will have to stop walking to claim their prize, and then they’ll have to hold their prize while they’re walking. It seemed too complicated. I decided to create prize vouchers. These were sheets of paper that had the winner’s name and the prize they won. They could then trade these vouchers in for their prize when they finished the walk. I had three reliable students with me as I called out the winners. One student filled out the sheet. One student held the raffle box with the tickets. The other student would run out to the winner and give them their voucher. This was one of those ideas that came to me when I started anticipating what could go wrong.
3. Get at least 2 full time assistants.
I had three, but I really only needed two. These were three reliable, responsible, and hard-working students who I had shadow me as I ran around getting things organized. If I needed something, I didn’t have to look for someone who was available. I knew I had someone right there who was just waiting for instructions. This saved so much time.
4. Don’t panic.
You have to expect that there will be some kind of malfunction. It won’t always run smoothly. If you expect the glitch, when it arrives, you won’t get turned inside out. All of a sudden, the microphone stopped working. I had to announce winners, and there was still a student who was going to sing. This is one problem I was not anticipating. I didn’t panic, however. I thought about ways to get the job done without a mic. I sent a custodian to find the emergency bull horn. Luckily, after about 10 minutes, the microphones came back on. There was my glitch. I knew it was coming, so I didn’t panic.
5. Don’t do it all.
I never like having other people do my job. I found out real fast, however, that I can’t do it all by myself. Today, I was in charge of signing in students who were volunteering. So, when volunteers arrived, they would come to me. In the beginning, it wasn’t a big deal. Once the walk started, however, I was on stage drawing names, introducing the singers, answering questions, and at the bottom of the stage, there was line of students who were waiting to sign in. Thankfully, one of the teachers on my team asked me if I needed any help. I gave her the responsibility of signing volunteers in and out, and I was able to concentrate on the actual event. It was a little difficult to give away this responsibility, but it was the best decision I made all day.
I am so proud of what we accomplished today. Seeing Gage’s mother crying after we announced the grand total made it all worth it.
I know that my students learned a lesson today. They learned that even eighth graders can make a difference in someone’s life. I’m confident that they will long remember what happened today, and hopefully, they’ll want to keep on using their talents and abilities to better their world. I’m going to create a short e-book about how I planned this event and offer it online to anybody who is interested. Anybody interested?
By the way, here’s a link to the photos of the event: http://teamc8.com/cfisps.html