Reprint from PathLight Winter 2015
|Colleen with a friend at her |
"Shake It For PH" Zumbathon
There was a time when I didn’t like fundraising. Don’t get me wrong, I’d gladly throw some money behind a cause or person I supported, but actually doing fundraising for pulmonary hypertension, as in, create an event, solicit friends and family, and pull it all off?
My reasons were pretty clear at the time. I felt that if I were to fundraise for the cause, I was somehow fundraising for myself. And I wasn’t comfortable with that at all. To do so would mean both admitting how sick I was and asking for help, and I didn’t like the thought of either. These feelings guided me for a while. However, as I got more involved in the cause, the more I came to realize just how crucial the funding part was. My stance has long been this: “If I have the right to hope fora cure, I have to take an active part in doing things that get us there.”
Well, what gets us to a cure is research dollars (and advocacy!). But someone has to provide those dollars, and I began to see that the push for that had to be led by someone like me — the one whose hopes rested on the cure those funds could bring. Maybe that’s you, too.
So, I tentatively dipped my toe into fundraising. I’m a part of PHA’s Generation Hope, PHA’s group for patients in their late teens, 20s and 30s, and a few of us banded together to help raise unity funds for the “Path to a Cure” climb, where two doctors and a physician assistant were climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for PH.
That went pretty well! So then I started thinking about an event. I decided I needed to have a shift in perspective. Instead of thinking about asking for money, I decided to invite people to a party. A good party is something I can handle! So, I created the first-ever Zumbathon for the cause, dubbing it, “Shake It for PH.” That was so much fun I did it again a second year.
In 2013 a new opportunity arose. Team PHenomenal Hope was preparing for Race Across America and two patients, Diane Ramirez and Janet Mabe, committed to walking a combined 100 miles to raise awareness and unity funds for the event, a goal which they actually far surpassed! Their actions inspired me to do my own athletic event. A friend and I participated in a Warrior Dash and raised sponsorships through that.
All in all, I’ve raised almost $14,000 for PHA. Every event was fun, and I’d do them all again. Not so bad for someone who once publicly declared that fundraising was not for her!
Now I have my sights set on something bigger. This year, PHA launched the PH Care Centers, an initiative to establish a program for accreditation of centers with special expertise in PH, and to raise the overall quality of care and outcomes in patients. With this initiative comes the goal of a patient registry. I believe that achieving this goal could revolutionize how medical providers and researchers approach PH, but I also know it will take a very strong financial platform to make it happen.
On May 1, 2015, Hartford, Conn., is going to host a fundraiser for the registry unlike any you’ve seen before. We are going to throw one big party (you see my theme here), and take 254 people to see Jay Leno live. I’m working with an amazing team, and I do believe we can pull off something great. Stay tuned! And be it big or small, be thinking about how you, too, can get in on the cause — a cure for pulmonary hypertension. As I’ve learned from starting small and slowly growing my fundraising efforts, every little bit truly does help.
By Colleen Brunetti, PH patient; Member, PHA Board of Trustees; Generation Hope Advisory Board Member
If you would like to join Colleen and jump into the world of special event fundraising, contact PHA’s special events team at Events@PHAssociation.org or 301-565-3004 x742.