Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a Lil Walk

She'll wear better shoes during THIS walk.
Leslie asked me to write a letter inviting friends and family to participate in Highmark's, "Walk for a Healthy Community" with us this year, because she said that me with words is good and her not is good.  

We participate in a walk every year, to support another cause, and this year will be no different in that respect EXCEPT. . . except that this year we're going to do a SECOND walk, and that's the walk we're talking about.

This walk is near and dear to our little Lily, specifically because one of the participating organizations (the organization to which 100% of the proceeds will benefit) is ABOARD (Austim Connection of PA).  Last year around September, when this blog was newer and greener, I broadcast a plea for help to the community at large and asked this question, "To whom should I donate my money if I want it to benefit Autistic people and their families and caregivers?" That post is >>HERE<<.  

If you're getting this message via snail mail, you can't click the >>HERE<<, so stop trying, you're just tearing the paper.  If you're getting this message and can click, but won't, I'll summarize it.  Anyone who was autistic said, "Don't give money to Autism Speaks".  There were a lot of reasons, and most of them were good.  The consensus was, "give to someone who can help autistic people locally, or give to food banks or shelters", because the sad fact of life is that many autistic people NOT receiving supports or services ARE the people in the homeless shelters and benefiting from the food banks.  I'm paraphrasing the masses (it was not a particularly well-commented blog post of mine, but linking from post to post by others who had covered the topic, that was the message I got).

One local autistic adult mentioned ABOARD.  They had helped her personally.  I had attended a couple workshops they had put together with my wife, and had previously donated to them.  They're the folks who put together the Autism Friendly Santa Visit at the mall, (they did one for the Easter Bunny too, but we didn't go).  They've become our personal pet Autism Charity.

So here we are at another walk, but this time we're the ones trying to raise the money, not just donate and participate.  We're forming a team, "Just a Lil Walk", and using Lily as our rallying point.  This is a cause that's important to her, or will be some day when she's able to take it up herself.

We've wanted to do something like this for a while, but . . . stuff. . .happened.  So here we are, as hale and hearty as we're probably ever going to be, and we'd love for you to join our team and walk with us on May 19th, starting at Stage AE in Pittsburgh (registration is at 7:45 a.m., walks start at 9:00 and 9:15 a.m.).  I've created a page on the blog to allow you to sign up for the team.  I've also linked an event to the Just a Lil Blog Facebook page.  I'm looking for sponsors (essentially if I can get someone to sponsor the team, I can get shirts for the participants, provided I have a head count two weeks before the walk) and I've set a goal of $1,000.  

I don't know if that's crazy.  It seems like a lot, but I feel like I want to stretch for it a little and see what we can come up with.  I don't want to say, "let's raise $250" and then have people look at it and say, "looks like they made it, we can relax".  

It's really not FOR Lily.  Lily has us, and her family, and our friends.  She's as blessed to have people who love her as we are to have her in our lives.  Not everybody is as lucky as we are.  

I sat at a charity dinner the other night where a 16 year old girl, bright, and pretty, bravely stood in front of a group of pastors and benefactors (we all must have seemed ancient and unapproachable to her, though she mixed well enough with the crowd) to tell us all what she'd done with her life so far, and what she wanted still to do, and what got me. . . what REALLY got me, was that of the goals she listed, chief among them was to be adopted.  And I thought to myself. . . "she's doing all this shit without a mom and dad to help her?"  And I just felt sad and gloomy and pretentious sitting there in my tie drinking a glass of wine and taking in the view while she folded her hands nervously on her lap and sat one table over, a midst the fogies there assembled, on display to loosen purse strings.  That's jaded of me, I suppose, but she gave a talk designed to extol the virtues of the charity for which we'd gathered, and nothing was more powerful than the slightly trembling, genuine delivery of her life under their care.  And I'm sure they knew that.

So while it's not for LILY, per se, it's for people like Lily, that don't have the support she has.

Lord, Leslie reads my blog, she has to know that any letter I write is going to be so friggin' LONG.  I'll probably edit this tomorrow anyway.  But we've set up a team.  We have a goal.  Lily and Emma and Leslie and I will be down by the stadium at Stage AE on May 19th to walk.  Whether we raise the $50 I've already donated or the $1000 that I've arbitrarily created as our goal, we'll be there, and we'll have fun.  And we'd love it if you could join us, or if you can't, if you could donate to the cause.

There's really not much time, and that's our fault, we just didn't get moving on it quickly enough.  We have about two weeks to put together what we can sponsor/donation/team-wise so that I can get tshirts made for participants and make sure we get them in time for the walk.

Just a Lil Walk Team
(Jim, Leslie, Emma and Lily. . . so far)


  1. Jim. You should make a "virtual walkers" area, too. Lots of your friends, like me, won't be able to come to PA (because you don't live anywhere near Hershey), but would like to be there "in spirit"...yes? no. Fine.

    You should contact your local shops, even the chain stores like Safeway or whatever. In my experience, if you have the balls to do it, they'll donate to get their name on your blog and your shirts.

    1. I don't live near Hershey, but they have chocolate HERE. Sarris candies is about a half hour from here. I had no idea how choco-centric your decision making was. . .

      I could have sworn I read something on ABOARD's page (or Highmark's) about virtual walkers. I couldn't find it on the info in my link though. Thanks for the idea. I'll see if I can find it.

      Who knows. . . if I got ENOUGH sponsorship maybe I could get THEM tshirts too. No promises!!

  2. What Lexi said! I can't exactly make it out to Pittsburgh (although, I bet my aunt would love to see me), but I would walk "in spirit". I'll also donate. And small businesses and even some big stores will often donate for the PR and goodwill and all that jazz. Best of luck to your team!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I hadn't really considered approaching a lot of small businesses. I have a couple entrepreneurial type friends who are usually very generous about sponsoring these sorts of things, and hoped just to get enough sponsorship to outfit the team with Lily's smiling face on a tshirt. We'll see though.

  3. This makes me immensely happy, Jim, that you're working with ABOARD (being that I think I was the adult you were talking about, haha, this makes sense). Good going and thank you. I can't donate, but you have my support 100%!

  4. I tried to make a donation, seeing as you are a few thousand miles too far away for me to pop on by. However, I am not sure if it went through? I hope it did! It would be under Anna Max.

    1. I don't see it yet, but if you did the pledge today, pay later option, it may be looking for a confirming email or something. We ran into this last night with someone else. Thank you!

  5. Well I don't even live in your state, but I'm sure on that day I will be walking...around my house, or the grocery store, or something. I mean, rarely do I go a whole day without walking.

    You should put up some kind of linky thingy to click to donate, because I'm sure many of us can spare a few bucks. I'll just walk LESS around the grocery store and, hence, spend LESS so I can donate MORE.


    1. But. . . but I do have linky things. My page is FILTHY with linky things! I have a page and a link in the post and there's a linky thing on FB and then there's one right under the title of the blog!!!

      Wait. . . are you teasing?

  6. Done done done. Listen, I don't give money to just any yahoo. Just adorable kiddos. And my favorite Jims. Well, I only have one favorite Jim. IT IS YOU.

    You're already over 1/4 there! Go, you!

    1. You're the BEST! But don't tell Susan, because I told her she was the best earlier, and I don't want to hurt her feelings. But it's totally you now.

  7. Jim, Leslie, Emma and Lily

    First can I say wow! As parents of children with Autism working at ABOARD's Autism Connection of PA everyday we try and make a difference and it is moments like this when we see that what we do does really make a difference! Thank you for taking on Highmark Walk and selecting ABOARD's Autism Connection of PA. I will love to help you with anything you need! Please contact me at the office to talk more 412-449-0165. Thank you again! Rebecca Williams-Thomas (ABOARD's Special Events Coordinator and mom of two children with autism!)

  8. As soon as I'm next to the computer with my wallet near me at the same time, I'm in! (For money... a trip to Pittsburgh, while it would be awesome to meet you and your fam in person, is not in the works for us right now).