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Why I’m Stepping Up: Cara’s Story

Cara Bergstrom-Lynch was our #8 fundraiser last year. So far this year, she’s raised $747 – she’s getting close to her current goal of $800! Cara Steps Up in memory of a student at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she teaches sociology.

When a friend asked me to join her in the Hot Chocolate Run last year, I was most definitely not a runner.  I could run just enough to chase after my young kids in a game of tag, and that was fine by me.

But then I learned more about Safe Passage and the important work they are doing to address domestic violence, and it struck a personal chord.  So, I started a Couch-to-5k regimen, nervously registered for the race, and then told everyone I knew (I mean everyone) about it and asked for their support.

I shared my own personal story on my fundraising page, and then I wrote from the heart about a student where I teach who was murdered by her boyfriend not long ago.  It struck a chord, I think, because my initial, modest fundraising goal was reached almost immediately.

CaraI hadn’t wanted to “bother” others at first, but I quickly realized that no one seemed bothered at all.  Instead, everyone I reached out to was eager to support Safe Passage.  I wrote to the President of my university on a whim, and was shocked that she offered to cut a check that was far larger than I had imagined.

And from there, the donations just flooded in – from old friends, acquaintances, close friends, family members, distant relatives, colleagues at work, even my current and former students.  I got so many messages of encouragement that I just kept asking for support, in every corner, and I think the enthusiasm was infectious.

I wanted everyone who supported me to feel like they were with me on the day of the run, so I bought fabric markers and pledged to write every donor’s name on a wide ribbon to wear tied around my arm on race day.  But so many people donated that I had to scrap the first ribbon (it was too short to fit all the names) and make a longer one!

I am proud to have run my first 5k at the Hot Chocolate Run last year and that since then, this “non-runner” has run a race a month (including a half marathon).  Most of all, I am proud to have stepped up and raised awareness and money for an organization that helps so many others throughout the year.

Be infectious in your enthusiasm, be honest and heartfelt and unabashed in asking for support, and find a way to allow your supporters to feel like they’re right there, Stepping Up with you.