How and why did you first get involved in the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy?
I first got involved with the walk after hearing about it while volunteering at a Safeway event and seeing posts about the walk on MD Canada's social media. When I learned that starting your own team and fundraising was so easy via the online platform, I was super excited to start Erin's Entourage,which later became Erin's Squad!!
What was the age of diagnosis of you/ your family member?
I was about two years old when I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II. My diagnosis came after my family noticed that I wasn't walking/standing up independently.
How do you feel the Walk event will benefit your family and community?
The Walk for MD is all about this amazing community of people we have who relate to each other through the things they've experienced. Not only does the annual walk bring people together and help families network and socialize in a setting that's exclusive and important to them, but it is also a fantastic fundraiser where the money donated goes back directly to the people affected by muscular dystrophy.
Do you have a favourite memory from a past Walk? If so, what is it?
I've only been to two walks so far, but the 2016 Walk was definitely my favourite! After the extremely dedicated members of my team helped raise the most money in all of Canada, being at the event we had been working towards for the greater part of the Summer was a fantastic experience. I remember a lot of people congratulating us for our accomplishment and thanking us for raising that money, and it made me so incredibly happy to realize that what we did make a real difference in some people's lives.
What is the most important thing you would want people to know about the Walk?
That everyone is welcome, and the more people come, the better! If you're considering attending, invite your family, friends, and classmates! If you have a team with you, even if they're not registered officially or if they didn't participate in the fundraising process, it makes the event way more fun and it shows how many people care about supporting Muscular Dystrophy.
What is your favourite way to raise awareness and to fundraise?
I feel like the most effective way to fundraise is by spreading awareness, actually! Sharing a glimpse into what my life is like and what dealing with Muscular Dystrophy entails for me is the best way to show others exactly how important donations are and why the money raised is life changing for so many Canadians.
What do you look forward to at the Walk each year?
I look forward to seeing everyone celebrate the awesome milestones that are being achieved. It's like a party for those of us working to make life even better by spreading awareness and being kind!
If you could tell people one good thing about the Walk, what would it be?
One fantastic thing about the walk is that it's a great way to meet new people who have been in your shoes (or wheels!) and who know how you're feeling.
What tips would you give a first-time participant?
Don't be afraid to socialize! If you've never been to a MD Walk or an MDC event, talk to people and make new friends! If you're looking to start your own team or join one for the first time, I definitely recommend using social media to your advantage. I would say that 95% of the 75,000+dollars that we raised came from donators who found out about our cause from emails, Facebook & Instagram posts.
Please answer this question: “I am walking for…”
I am walking so that one day, I can walk! While a cure for the multiple forms of Muscular Dystrophy isn't the top priority for me personally, I know that with the progress being made through the help of money that all the participants raise, we will definitely be there one day very soon. And until that day, this money goes toward making every day that much brighter for those of us affected by Muscular Dystrophy.
- Erin Novakowski