Thursday, April 26, 2012

Play Date With A Purpose

Good afternoon my friends. As you may have noticed, recently my daily posts have been sporadic in their delivery. Some have been early morning; others afternoon; and still on one occasion I even made the mistake of mixing up days (thought it was Saturday all day Friday). I do apologize for the irregular posting times, I have just been quite occupied (not a pun) as of lately with an event that I have been helping to organize, Play Date With A Purpose.

You see, as you may or may not know at this stage of your involvement with my blog, I am a Public Relations student. As part of my curriculum there is a module on event planning. To obtain credits we, as a class, are organizing this event for one of the instructors at our school. Her name is Angela Galipeau and she was diagnosed with Tumefactive Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. The event is for her and her team, Team Gracie's Mum, in the upcoming MS Walk in May. Now that you have a general idea of what the event is, we can continue to the meat and bones.

So moving forward. When our instructor presented us with this event a few months ago, it seemed like a simple enough event to plan. This was meant to be approached like we would in our professional career. Again, it didn't seem like it would be a difficult event to put together. It has been. It has been hectic; it has been time consuming; it has been stressful; it has been emotional; but most of all, it has been worth it. No, I realize the event has not happened yet but up until this point I feel as though all that I have taken on and been able to do has been more than worth it. 

When we were given this assignment project event responsibility, I must admit that I knew very little about Angela and even less about MS. I took the time to read Angela's blog which she has written to chronicle her amazing journey of strength. I took a little more time and I floated over to the MS Society of Canada website to learn a little more about MS. I found out some pretty interesting stuff. One was that MS affects more women than men at a ratio of 2:1. Twice as many women are battling MS than men. That got me to wanting to know more about MS (though I still haven't made it to finding out why it is more predominant in women) and so I read. And I read some more. And still some more.

When I returned to Angela's story, I had a completely new perspective on it. It touched me a in a completely different way than it had the first time around. As time quickly slipped by, March arrived and it was time to really get to work on the event. Angela began to attend our classes for meetings to keep updated on how we were proceeding and to review ideas and other such things as is required when one is planning and organizing event for someone else. It is their event so you need them to sign off on everything. As I got to know Angela more, I became more and more aware just what kind of individual you actually have to be to fight this kind of battle.

I must admit one more thing: this started out as just something I had to do. Some time ago that sentiment changed. Spending time working on this event, trying to get it off the ground, educating myself on MS and getting to know Angela better changed me and how I viewed this entire project. It became more than just a class assignment. It became something for which I now wanted to share about; spread awareness about; it became, in some sense, a minor passion. I am always passionate about those things that I can empathize closely with; and after all this, I can empathize, to the best of my abilities and limitations, with those who, every day, contend with this debilitating disease.

I mention those and when I say those, I specifically mean all those who are affected by MS; not just those diagnosed. This is something that Angela has really taught me. When someone is diagnosed with MS, there are more people than just them fighting through the struggle; there is family. It's easy to miss the pain and suffering that loved ones endure for their family member. That's what Angela wanted when she decided that she wanted to hold this event. An event for families; a fundraiser that would focus not solely on the individual, but on all those affected by it. Families supporting families as she put it.

The entire process was a little rough. Though this was a class/group project, I feel I poured a lot more of myself into this than some. I'm not complaining; not pointing fingers; not even mad. Nobody did more or less than I had expected them to do really. Everyone did what I expected of them. There were no surprises; just work. It would not have mattered if I had done it entirely myself (I did not, a size-able share mind you) I would still be as happy about it as I am now.

I am happy because of what this means to Angela. To have come to understand just what it is she faces or could face; to have learned first hand how deeply an impact MS is to an individual but also their family; to know that so many people and their families have to be so strong and so courageous makes any complaint I might have had seem mute. I'm not sure if this will reach Angela or not; nor does it matter. She seemed very anxious, and understandably so, and concerned about the amount of time, effort and resources I was putting into this. I reassured her and I hope she knows that I would have worked ten times harder; taken on ten times the responsibility; sacrificed ten times the sleep; endured ten times the frustration; just to make sure she had a spectacular event day. She has earned it; more-so than I can express for her.

So I am now personally vested into this event. No grade I can receive will equal the worth of experience and knowledge I have taken away from planning and organizing this event; and I don't mean the work experience or event planning experience. I would have gotten that either way. No, I got a lot more than I expected when first this came across my plate. Much more. I may have even discovered the niche or area of expertise I wish to pursue (or some general idea): not-for-profits, charities and non-profits (yes they are all different); something to do with helping people; helping spread awareness; educating and supporting those who need a voice and don't always have one. And as I approach the end of today's blog entry I can only hope you'll take the time to read up about Angela and her story; gain some knowledge about MS and how it truly affects those who are diagnosed and their families; and hopefully encourage you to show support in any way that is available to you. 

Some helpful links:
The MS Society of Canada Website: http://mssociety.ca/en/
The MS Walk Canadian Webpage Directory: http://mssociety.ca/mswalk/
You can also help by sharing today's blog post with others. Encourage people you know to learn a little. You never know how or when MS could enter your life. 

One last thing before I go (kind of a pitch, but come on now, I am a PR guy; but really, this event is so much more than just a project or assignment to me now). If you've read today's entry and feel like you want to participate in the Play Date or support in some way but you don't live nearby or you are unable to attend for other reasons, you can help out in all or any one of these ways. The smallest amount of support can make the biggest difference sometimes' from donations to words of encouragement; it all matters.

Follow Team Gracie's Mum on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/TeamGraciesMum
Even just visiting the event page with words of encouragement is a great form of support as well: https://www.facebook.com/events/174288542677580/