Walk Day in the Life of the Chair

Saturday, November 13, was one of the best days of my life. Bold statement, I know, but it was nonetheless. November 13 was the day of the 2021 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Philadelphia.

For the last year, I've served as the event's lead volunteer, working with a group of other volunteers to plan and execute the details of this event.

One year of monthly and biweekly meetings, regular emails, brainstorming this and putting together that - all culminated at this moment. And it did not disappoint.

Dawn of a new Walk day

I arrived at Citizens Bank Park at 8:30 a.m., amid the semi-quiet that comes with a buzzing crew of hundreds of volunteers and a DJ playing to begin the hype.

It felt like the calm before the storm, so I savored it by capturing a quick video, posted it to the Philadelphia Walk to End Alzheimer's Facebook group, and then pointed my feet in the direction of the volunteer tent to check-in for my shift.

All of the staff members who had become regular guest stars in my life over the past year were there, including my work wife, aka staff partner, Holly. We hugged and marveled at how awesome it was to have arrived at the day.

We all took our phones out to check to see what the fundraising total was - as though we hadn't all checked hours, if not minutes, before. We hovered around 1.2 to 1.3 million dollars throughout walk day, maintaining our number 2 spot, based on fundraising dollars, among all the Walks to End Alzheimer's in the country.

I ran into one of my best friends, whose support I will be eternally grateful for, Mindy!

She and Trisha would be volunteering to take team photos for hours leading up to the event. I was ecstatic to have her support and also so stoked that they would get to experience another walk after both volunteering in 2019.

Dancing my way around

From there, I decided to dance my way in a lap around the footprint, as the pros call it. The DJ and my adrenaline pumping, I meandered over to the Stridin' Solo tent, where I found two committee members waiting to greet and rally their team members ahead of the walk.

It was great to catch up, and we were all smiles at being together, in person, for perhaps only the second time this year. It felt like Christmas morning, where cheerful was the floor of my emotions that day. It could only go up from here.

Bopping around, I ran into previous walk chairs, more committee members, and stalwart walkers decked out in purple. Finally reaching my volunteer position pre-walk, I was greeted by a national representative for the walk and a committee volunteer I hadn't seen for more than a year!

Putting in some volunteer time

I proceeded to dance around the committee tent for most of my volunteer time, awaiting my family and friends who were on my walk team to show up at the appointed hour so we could get the party started.

As my parents, sister, family, friends, and cousins arrived, I was pulled away to do a quick press interview for Lorrain Ballard Morel, a friend to the cause and someone who has felt the pain of Alzheimer's herself.

We went live to her Instagram and Facebook from inside the stadium, letting all of the listeners of WKQD know how to get more involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer's – and hopefully inspired a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) for next year.

And we were off....

Right as the opening ceremonies were set to begin, the last of my crew showed up at the tent. I did a quick cleanup and paid attention to the Promise Garden Ceremony, remembering my Poppop as we hoisted our purple flowers high in the sky.

And then we were off! I had the pleasure of holding my niece as we danced across the starting line. She giggled. My parents popped off at the grocery cart near the starting line for some pretzel snacks, and we meandered our way around the about 2-mile course, snaking around the ballpark before ending inside with a lap around the warning track.

Leona, my niece, loathing shoes, had popped hers off throughout the previous 2 miles and didn't take kindly to the fact that she couldn't go "walkie in the grass," giving me the laugh of a lifetime.

A grand old time at the Walk

Leaving the ballpark, we planted our flags and booked it to Xfinity Live to the table we had reserved to watch Penn State play Michigan at the end of the walk.

Having a grand old time, despite the loss, my family and friends went home and passed out after a long day of fun and family time, enjoying our community of more than 4 thousand strong purple people. In fairness, Leona passed out at the bar before going home, but you get the point.

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