Last week, while spending a bit of time on Twitter, trying to get the hang of it (which btw, you really can’t….it just doesn’t make sense) I somehow or another happened upon @ATOWalksHard. I don’t know if I found them, or they found me, but we were united. As I shamelessly plugged Orange Man’s story ( as his newly designated pimp) the individual on the other end of @ATOWalksHard was plugging their own MS thing. In my ever optimistic way, I immediately thought “match made in heaven” type of shit. Wedding bells, flowers, doves, the whole nine yards. Orange Man was going to go for “a walk” with his new found friends. I offered to write a post about this event (Orange Man’s dowery) in the hopes of him getting out in the fresh Michigan air for that “walk.”
My initial thoughts were probably typical of many when hearing about a fundraising event by a group in the Greek system of our colleges here in the states.”Yea, sure. “Hard Walk” – does that mean only hard alcohol is served on this walk? Or maybe it is just “hard” for the pledges that they send out into the frigid Michigan winter air?
BUT what I learned as I jumped onto their social media: ATO Facebook (head over and LIKE) and Twitter (go ahead and follow) and began reading the blog that was created from past events and watched this You-Tube video and this one REALLY blew me away. This wasn’t the beer chugging, toga-wearing, ignoramuses that I had expected to be making this “little” walk. This was not Animal House part 3, 4, 20, or however many years have gone by since that movie came out. This was an amazing group of guys (some not much older than my oldest child) that froze their asses off for 160 miles, in 8 days. Let me repeat that….
160 MILES IN 8 DAYS IN BUTT FREEZING TEMPERATURES!!!!!!!!
This is a group of young men that have ALREADY figured out how amazing it feels when you are helping others (wouldn’t our world be better if EVERYONE figured that out by the time they were their age?) They have learned about making a COMMITMENT and then seeing it through (AGAIN wouldn’t it be nice if we all had learned that by the time we were their age?) AND they have learned the value in joining together as a group to tackle what might seem insurmountable. Which is something that I WISH I remembered more often…..
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS!
STRENGTH…IN IT’S RAWEST FORM!!!
This group has raised OVER $100,000 since their first walk in 2013 and all proceeds go to the National MS Society. That is no small number! THAT is a number to be proud of….to promote, publish and brag about! Shit…I have had this “fantastical” disease for almost 10 years and that is WAY more than I have ever raised!!!
So, why do they do “IT?” Why do they walk ONE HUNDRED & SIXTY MILES in brutal weather conditions for MS?
Having been in the greek system (MANY years ago) I was happy to hear that each Greek house still has a philanthropic element to their group. Each fraternity and sorority that exists at a college or university can chose what institution or cause they want to support. The year that the Kappa Lamda chapter of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) at Grand Valley State University learned of another chapter doing a walk for a charity, they had a brother in the house whose mother had just been diagnosed with MS. It was a “hot button” of an idea and quickly became this groups focus charity.
This will be the fourth year that “they” walk – and the “they” is because the brothers that founded this walk and MS fundraising event have graduated and moved on, but there are new brothers that are coming in; the newly initiated that are learning from those that were there, and those that remain. Learning to be good people doing good things to help others. So far they have….
WALKED A TOTAL OF 480 MILES IN ASS FREEZING COLD TEMPS!!!
HAVE RAISED OVER $100,000 FOR MS!!!
One of the brothers, that was a freshman last year wrote a post on the groups walking trip blog that resonated with me. It can be read HERE, but I also wanted to highlight some of the things I read and heard while learning about this amazing group of men doing amazing things for those of us that live with Multiple Sclerosis.
“Sitting on my couch at home two days later, slowly recovering proper function over my limbs and desperately trying to remind myself that going upstairs didn’t always take five minutes, I realize now more than ever the importance of the event in both my life and the lives of those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.”
“It wasn’t until later when I had directly seen the effects of multiple sclerosis and the gratefulness those diagnosed with the disease showed towards our walk that I grasped the importance of Walk Hard. MS is exceedingly more prevalent than I had first perceived it to be and it only became apparent as those affected told me about their stories after learning of my involvement. Suddenly I wasn’t participating for me, I was participating for them. This event is so much more than raising money and walking…”
“She told us she has MS and it shocked us. We met someone on the journey, that we were helping…It was a very humbling experience . Really hit us as a group, knowing that what we are doing affects so many people…”
“It’s one of those moments I don’t think I’ll ever forget, and definitely something that I will remind myself of to keep up morale during the walk. It’s an honor to be able to say I’ll be walking for Mina this year.”
“…we’ve found that our passion has only grown…so we’re constantly on the look out for new ways to spread awareness of MS. Moreover, we’ve found that the key to this event’s success is adaptability, and being able to adjust to new challenges…”
HHMMM “key to success is adaptability and being able to adjust to new challenges. THAT sounds a bit like MY life and how I have learned to roll with the punches and continuously adjust to the “new normals” that come my way.
I have a child that is heading off to college next year. Truthfully I had hoped that he would avoid the Greek system and being a part of a fraternity….but I now have to admit, if he were to join a brotherhood that has members like these guys, with the same values, empathy and drive, then I am ALL for him going Greek!
Here is what I have to say about all of this…
IF you have donated to MS in the past OR you are thinking of doing so now OR you are planning on donating in the future-this is a DAMN good group of people doing amazing things!!!
FREEZING THEIR ASSES OFF FOR ALL OF US LIVING WITH THE DISEASE!