For years I have been involved in the Twin Cities’ annual Making Tracks for Celiacs fundraiser, benefitting the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research. I love our event because the people who attend are so passionate about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet; including participants, volunteers and vendors.

Since 2002, our walk has outgrown its initial location, tripling in size, and has consumed a lot of manpower (both physical and mental) of our volunteers. It has been an amazing journey. This year I am coordinating the event and really am excited for the challenge and stoked about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Big plans for a big gluten-free event

This year the event is on May 16th, 2009. My new role has my fingers in just about everything: donations, sponsors, public relations, you name it. My biggest stress is the part that is most out of my control: the economy. How will it impact our little slice of gluten-free heaven in May? If you read yesterday’s post, you can see gluten-free businesses are doing well, so I’m hoping for a successful donation drive.

I worry about sponsors and pledges. Companies are laying off people all over the place (I was a victim in April). The TV station where I used to work just laid off more than a dozen employees yesterday. It’s very sad. An economic climate like this can mean fewer donations from both companies and the participants. And on my end, what can I do to help the event grow, by using less money?

I also need to keep reminding myself that awareness is also a key goal in to reach in this fundraiser campaign. So some of my goals need to also include spreading the word about celiac disease, the gluten-free diet and the importance of pushing your doctor to get tested if you suspect anything.

Our passionate committee will get into the thick of it right after the December holidays and really forge ahead. Hopefully I will come up with some creative ideas by then. If you have been in this situation and have some fundraiser ideas, please let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on this challenging but definitely rewarding opportunity!

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