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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Different Kind of Journey

I've spent the last two months on a different kind of journey - fundraising and raising awareness for two causes that have strong connections with my family.
The first is a project that my 22-year-old brother started  and that my dad assists with called the Col. Albert Pawling Memorial Statue Project in Troy which aims to erect a statue of the first mayor of Troy (Albert Pawling) at the corner of Pawling Avenue and Congress Street. My brother, Adam, came up with the idea when he was in high school and he's now a junior at UAlbany. Their goal is to have the statue up by the city's bicentennial in 2016.
The second cause is the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. My father was diagnosed with Crohn's - a painful intestinal issue which affects your diet and overall lifestyle - when he was in his 40s. The disease worsens with stress and in my dad's final year of teaching he was under a lot of it since he was re-assigned for that year from the high school to the middle school. He was not even able to finish the school year due to the pain and he had two surgeries in his intestines in the months following his retirement. Both surgeries were difficult but he went into ICU for several days after the second one. I still remember getting the call from my mom that I should head up to the hospital *now* because dad's condition was deteriorating. The doctor said he had to throw in the "kitchen sink" to save him, but - two years later - he's still with us.
I primarily raised money for these two organizations through my 3rd Annual Grown Up Egg Hunt in Troy, which was the weekend after Easter.

The event itself, through sponsorships and more than 100 participants, raised nearly $8,000, not including expenses which were minimal due to some very generous people. And I reached out to many of my Facebook friends in the week following the event to supplement the event's earnings.
In total, as of May 6, the Col. Albert Pawling Memorial Statue Project has received $3,600 and the CCFA received nearly $4,700 - the amount I raised for the organization last year as well.
What I have tried to achieve through the Grown Up Egg Hunt is a fun event that also raises awareness of little known charities/groups. Because there are so many out there, I help a cause for two years and then rotate.
In the Egg Hunt's inaugural year, it raised $700 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - another great cause. That year, I also raised over $3,000 for LLS through other efforts and donated to them the following year as well.
Like so many things, this idea had a very small beginning since I actually was joking about the Grown Up Egg Hunt in a Tweet in 2012. That 140-character micro-blog has turned into an event that attracts a couple hundred people, a dozen volunteers, had the support of 16 sponsors, and about 215 donating businesses. In total, everyone's efforts this year equated into about $8,300 in donations to some very worthy causes.

Now, I need your help once more.
I'm only one person and while I get around, I am not aware of all the great charitable entities in the world or in the Capital District. I am looking for suggestions for a new group to help next year since we've assisted the CCFA for the past two years.
The group must be a recognized 501(c) (3) and preferably something that is little known but has a large impact. It can be international, national, or local.
I've truly appreciated everyone's assistance in the past two months - my friends/volunteers, my boyfriend, my Facebook/social media friends for putting up with my constant charity updates, our sponsors, the myriad of businesses, the more than 50 people who donated to the CCFA website on my behalf and to honor their family/friends who have Crohn's or Colitis, my co-workers for understanding and supporting my work, and especially my family who attended the CCFA walk with me this past rainy Saturday.

I'd like to remain active with the CCFA, just like I'd like to remain active with LLS, but I just don't know if I will have the time/energy to give the proper support to past Grown Up Egg Hunt charities while still assisting and giving awareness to new causes.
There are many worthy organizations out there and I'm just trying to do my part, and think it's wonderful that I have the support of so many.
Thank you.
I look forward to hearing people's recommendations for charities next year and I'm sure the 4th Annual Grown Up Egg Hunt will be an even bigger and better success.


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