Along with a small band of wonderful volunteers, I’ve spent the last several months planning and organizing and meeting and working towards staging our local Gutsy Walk, one of more than 60 such walks that took place across Canada on Sunday, June 5 to raise funds for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
Months of juggling the demands of a volunteer role on top of the demands of full-time work and life’s other commitments, and then the walk flies by in a few hours. Hardly seems a fair trade off, does it? Especially since on the day of the event all of us volunteers are still planning and organizing and working. But with over $136,000 raised at the Peel Region Gutsy Walk alone, it’s worth it.
When I became president of the Peel Region Chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada last fall, I was incredibly nervous. I’ve had problems with anxiety over the last couple of years, and I was worried about taking on a more involved volunteer role. But I didn’t want to shy away from a cause that means so much to me, and I’m glad I didn’t. There were stressful moments, as I’m sure there were for all of the chapter’s volunteers, but what carried me through them was the support of the incredible team I get to work with. I see how all of the chapter’s core members extend themselves as volunteers to support the people they love, and people who they’ve never met, but know deserve better in life.
I see it in the way Cathy created the Gutsy Guy outfit which I’m sorry I ripped last year because I was having too much fun running around in it.
I see it in the way Scott sacrificed celebrating his wedding anniversary so he could haul ice and water and pizza around in his truck.
I see it in the way Brenda juggles spreadsheets and emails and online platforms to slot in volunteers where they’re needed.
I see it in the way Barb crunches our numbers and recruits her whole family to work the Gutsy Walk registration desk.
I see it in the way Cindy reaches out to businesses and finds us wonderful items to gift or auction off.
I see it in the way Lisa offers to help out, and brings her kids along to help out, in between her Remicade infusions.
I see it in the way Jason moved and set up tent after tent, then helped bring them down and pack them up again.
I see it in the way Rose trained for and ran 5K as part of the Guts to Run team.
I see it in the way Tracy dishes out food to walkers and other volunteers on event day.
I see it in the way Nithany brings people together to support her brother, who I’m so happy made it out of the hospital and into our last chapter meeting.
I see it in the way Jayson always comes to chapter meetings to lend support to both Nithany and her brother.
I see it in the way Brandon sprung into action to get so much of our upcoming Comedy Night sorted, then went ahead and sold a bunch of tickets.
And I see it in the way Don and Nancy orchestrate so much of the Gutsy Walk, and make it look easy though it’s a beast of a job.
I cannot thank each of the volunteers around me enough for the contributions they’ve made to the chapter, and not just this year, but in years past as well. I’ve been the beneficiary of the strong foundation that’s been established by chapter members past and present, and I’m very grateful for that.
We can get bogged down by the dollar figures associated with the Gutsy Walk – fundraising goals, top pledge earners, top teams – but in the end, it’s about making life better for people who have lived through enough shit. We’re all doing this because our kids, our relatives, our friends, and in some cases ourselves, ought to be out living life instead of loathing it. Instead of enduring it. Instead of fearing it.
To everyone who volunteers for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, whether it’s just on Gutsy Walk day or throughout the year, thank you for helping make life with IBD more of a life.
PS. If you’d still like to contribute to the Gutsy Walk, donations are good until July 4. Please toss a few bucks our way if you’re able to.
PPS. If you volunteer or have volunteered with the Peel Chapter and I didn’t mention you by name above, I apologize for the purely forgetful and completely unintentional oversight. Forgive me, it has been kind of a busy time.