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Team Madison - Our Lil' Peanut: Staten Island, NY
A moment in our arms, a lifetime in our hearts.
When and why did you start your team?
We started our first family team in 2006 when Maddie was just 9 months old. I was already totally hooked on Share your Story and everyone was talking about walk. I already loved all of you girls but wanted to know if there were moms like me on Staten Island. I needed to see I wasnt alone. I am so grateful I went that day. I met an amazing mom and listened from a distance of her talking about her little girls. That car ride home me and Keith were so relieved. I saw someone in real life that was going through the same thing me and Keith were. Not that I would ever wish this on anyone but it was just nice to know we weren't alone. Our first walk actually was the first time in that year I think me and Keith breathed a sigh of relief...we knew we would make it.
What do you wish you had known when you started your team?
Mmmm...our first walk I kinda stayed in the background. Wanted to just lurk a little first. We weren't ready to tell our story yet but just wanted to hear others. I wish I had already known a name of a mom who I could feel free to talk to. I needed that. At our walk now we contact the moms beforehand. Let them talk to someone upfront so come walkday they already have that connection and feel more comfortable to come in our tent and look for that mom.
What fundraising has worked for ya?
Facebook for us is huge. We also do for our team only a Dine out night. We get a nice restaurant to donate 10% of that nights proceeds to our team. The deal is I bring in as many people as I can and pack the place. He makes lots more money for the night so really never even misses the 10%. Win win for everyone.
You've had a team a long time, how do you keep the excitement up among your team mates?
We get a little stale from time to time but try to keep it fresh by just reminding them every year of Maddie's progress. Every year on our walk page I add Maddie's year accomplishments. We went from walking on her own two feet and not in a walker to running. Last year it was learning how to ride a bike. This year we are hoping it will be to roller skate or learn how to swim on her own. All these accomplishments are HUGE for a little girl who was told she would most likely never walk. Think these little reminders keep them motivated.
What's your favorite part about walk day?
I just love the whole day but if I had to pick one part it would be our *Preemie Parade*. This is when we get to parade our little miracles across the stage for everyone to see how far they have come. We each hold up a banner to get the crowd going. Some hold up stats on theirs and some words of inspiration. Our banner says *Our Preemie Diva Rocks* and anyone who knows our little diva knows shes rocking this world.
We could never forget our angel mommies. They join us as well to honor their babies they lost They also hold up banners, signs, butterflies. Think this parade shows the crowd the incredible power of the MOD but how much more needs to be done.
What nifty stuff does your walk do for family teams?
I absolutely love or walk. Every year we get better. Last walk we set us a little picnic area behind our family tent. It was behind the crowd, a quite place for families to talk, reflect and cry it out if they had to. It was so nice. We also had an incredible kids zone. Cotton candy, sand art, arts and crafts. We had costume characters and
animals from the zoo. The kids loved it.
Any expert words for fellow Family Teams out there?
Get involved. Get new ideas out to your chapter. Volunteer. Chapters are incredible short staffed. They need to know you will be behind them to help out. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Get your story out. Give the MOD a personal touch by sharing your story, your fears from you journey, what still lies ahead for you. Let your friends and family know how important the mission is to you. Let them know where their money goes. Get excited and be creative. Make it a competition between team mates. and most importantly, stick with it. Being involved could be an incredible healing process..
I have met so many incredible people through the March of Dimes. People who have helped me in ways they haven't even imagined. These people are now my family. I love them with my whole heart each and every one of them and I will forever be grateful to all of them and to the March of Dimes who has not only given us our daughter but these lifelong friends.
Team Madison: Our Lil' Peanut