The weather forecast for May 21st, wasn’t looking good. All week it bounced from “sunny with spotty showers” to full-on thunderstorms for our area in Minnesota. Each day that went by I watched the forecast with one eye open, hoping I would hear about some miraculous change that would promise beautiful sky. But instead rain was the continued theme.
When Friday, May 20th approached one tv station would predict thunder storms on May 21st, while another would predict rain later in the day. The good news is that we have an ideal location for our event. It is held at Holy Family Catholic High School — a beautiful new(ish) facility in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities.
Our big question: do we move everything except for the actual 5K walk and run inside? It would be a huge deal to ask the school to allow 1300 people take over so much space on a Saturday (usually we’re only in the cafeteria and use some of the bathrooms). But, at the same time we want to make everyone happy so they don’t leave right away. We didn’t make our final call until Saturday morning.
Then the time came. Early Saturday morning, with a colorful weather radar depicting rain in most of the Twin Cities and a high chance of thunderstorms, we decided we had to move as much as we could, inside. Our kids games, prizes, t-shirt sales, podium, and most of our vendors came inside the gym. A few of the companies that were cooking stayed outside near our registration area so people would see them.
By the time registration opened at 8:30 a.m., much of the Twin Cities was receiving a deluge of water. But not us. Just 5 miles away there was a downpour while we remained dry. Would we get hit with the rain? Would the rain that was already falling keep people away?
New Look to the Twin Cities Celiac Walk
People still came in droves despite the cruddy weather they had to drive through to get to us. For that we are very thankful people didn’t give up on us.
With the event underway, tons of people checked out our food fair sample area, and then headed down to the gym for a spectacular sight: a carnival-like atmosphere filled with kids games, prizes and about 20 vendors. It was very cool. While stressful to pull off at the last minute, it all worked out fabulously!
Shortly after 9 o’clock, I got the call. The Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton was just a few minutes away. I met his staffer who came early and moments later he was there. It was exciting! In late April, he signed the proclamation declaring May Celiac Disease Awareness Month in Minnesota, and next thing we know FOX 9 Anchor Heidi Collins invited him to attend and he said YES! Not only that, he stuck to his guns — still attending even though he drove through major rain and was being called back to the state capitol for budget meetings in the final days of the legislative session.
He was very social wading through the crowd and shaking many, many hands. After a brief “hello” between Collins, the Governor and former NFL MVP Rich Gannon they made their way to the stage. Both Gannon and Collins thanked everyone and allowed the Governor to speak. He admitted he would rather be walking in the rain with us rather than go back to the capitol, but duty called. The governor mentioned that he knew this disease needed attention. He knows people with celiac and who eat gluten-free for health reasons. He seemed impressed by the event and said, “You’re leading the way for your generation and future generations.”
When you put it like that..it makes it sound like what we’re doing is so much bigger than getting permits, sponsors and donations…hmmm something to think about.
The Governor left to get back to some meetings pretty quickly and then it was time for us to run and walk! Collins and Gannon started the misty run by blowing the airhorns for the racers. Then a few minutes later the walk started — and so did the rain! What started as a sprinkle turned into a good solid soaker by about 20 minutes into the walk. Luckily, many walkers had umbrellas and other rain gear! Runners had no complaints about the weather– saying it was perfect.
Even after the event people hung around to try any left over food items that may be there. But the sample area was bare and the vendors were also running out of items to purchase and to sample.
I was happy to hear some people had a great time, Traci Davis, who often posts on The Savvy Celiac Facebook page, “This was my first time attending and I LOVED it…I can’t wait til next year! I was in gluten free heaven there!” And Shelly Rudd Brown said on the Making Tracks for Celiacs Facebook page, “Today was great! Even with the rain! We saw some new vendors! This was our 8th year for the walk and it is amazing each year with so many new food choices!!! :)”
I am so pleased everything came together as well as it did in spite of the cruddy weather! A big thanks to Holy Family Catholic High School and their students, all of our other volunteers as well. Also thanks to everyone who came out and helped raise awareness as well as donated money to the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Center for Celiac Research.