Rally4RJ Virtual Walk in the Park: A DIY Virtual Walk Success Story!
Suzanne Sullivan and her family were excited to hold their 2nd annual Rally4RJ 1 Mile Walk in the Park in the summer of 2020. But when the pandemic hit and they realized an in-person event would not be possible, they quickly pivoted to a virtual version of their event, raising more than $17,000 to support the fight to end Duchenne. Suzanne shared her lessons learned and advice for others looking to hold a virtual run/walk.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your event and why you chose to do it.
A: Our 2019 Rally4RJ Walk in the Park was a gathering of friends, family and neighbors at a local park, where we took a walk together and had breakfast afterwards. We raised more than $29,000 and were excited to host the event again in 2020. When the pandemic started and we realized we would have to do the event virtually, we asked our participants to take a walk in their favorite park instead.
Q: How did you fundraise?
A: We chose not to charge a participation fee for our event, but instead we asked people to make a donation to our fundraising page on the PPMD website. Anyone who donated was entered into a drawing for a prize basket. We were pleasantly surprised by how many people still chose to donate. It really drove home to us the fact that people want to help, and they want to support the fight to end Duchenne, even without the traditional walk or other type of event to participate in. We also did not offer t-shirts this year, so that saved us a lot on expenses.
Q: How did you adapt your event to make it COVID-safe?
A: We adapted our event by asking everyone to do their own walk as families or couples in their own neighborhoods, rather than gathering as a group. We also added a “drive-by” hello afterwards. RJ really enjoyed seeing everyone and handed out pre-packaged donuts to those who drove by. RJ also did the raffle drawing as part of the drive-by. The last thing we did was ask everyone who walked to take a photo and send it to us, and then my daughter compiled them into a video montage with music. RJ spoke at the end, thanking everyone. Usually we send thank you cards to everyone who donates; this time we used the video as our thank you. People loved it; they were able to still see everyone they normally would have seen at the walk, and it made it feel like in some way like we were still together.
Q: Is there anything you would do differently next time?
A: I would have asked more people to participate in the drive-by. That was really a highlight for RJ, it was fun seeing family/friends and a way for him to interact with people safely. I would also spread the word about the event more, through our networks and on social media.
Q: What is your advice for someone planning an event in 2021?
A: Don’t let the pandemic stop you from trying something new or adapting your event. The Duchenne community still needs our support. Whatever you did before, think of a creative way to adapt it. Your friends and family will still want to support the fight to end Duchenne. We didn’t raise as much money as we normally do, but we still raised a good amount! You may not think your event is going to do much, but if we all do something, collectively these smaller events add up to a big impact!
CREATE YOUR YOU OWN DIY EVENT
You too can join the fight to end Duchenne! Reach out to the PPMD team so we can help you create your personalized DIY virtual event for your community!Create a DIY Event >