Torralba 1Nicole TorralbaMs. TilleryAP LiteratureApril 19, 2012 Senior Project Speech: Muscular Dystrophy Walk-a-thon Close your eyes for just a moment. Imagine waking up one day and not being able to getout of bed. All of a sudden you’ve lost the ability to walk because of a disease that causes yourmuscle tissue to deteriorate. Can you picture yourself confined to a wheelchair or a leg brace forthe rest of your life? Simple activities that you might often take for granted such as climbing thestairs and going to the bathroom will become a daily battle. Around 500-600 newborns arediagnosed every year in the United States with this debilitating disease which is known to us asMuscular Dystrophy. Good afternoon, my name is Nicole Torralba and my senior project wasorganizing and hosting a Muscular Dystrophy Walk-a-thon. Ever since I was a little girl, Ialways enjoyed playing doctor. As I grew up, playing doctor made me want to become an actualdoctor. To me, doctors are heroes and are inspirational to everyone around them. In choosing mysenior project, I knew that I wanted to do something in which I could give back to mycommunity and make an impact on someone’s life just like a doctor. I heard of MuscularDystrophy over the summer when I met the Muscular Dystrophy National Chairman, LukeChristie. It was his bright attitude and upbeat spirit that inspired me. Although confined to awheelchair for the rest of his life, his sunny disposition didn’t even exhibit the pain that he wasgoing through. He was so welcoming and down-to-earth and I was amazed at his ability to exudeconfidence and be proud of who he was as a person regardless of his disability. I knew from that
Torralba 2encounter with Luke Christie that I wanted to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. It was thenthat I decided that I wanted to host a walk-a-thon. Planning for a walk-a-thon was definitely a challenge. There were so many steps that Ihad to go through to achieve my final product. First, I started off by making a checklist ofeverything that I needed to accomplish along the way. Then, I started emailing local MuscularDystrophy representatives where I got in contact with Ms. Erin Dawkins and Ms. Angela Brown.Both of them helped me tremendously by giving me suggestions of what to do with the walk-a-thon. It was through them that I was able to invite two families affected with MuscularDystrophy to the walk-a-thon, the Schopmann and the Gunn family. Throughout my wholeproject, I kept on emailing back and forth with Ms. Dawkins and Ms. Brown to keep them up todate with everything that I was doing. Next, I talked to the high school Beta Club and asked fortheir help on my project. As the Beta Club President, I established the walk-a-thon as our serviceproject of the year and from there, we started raising money by selling shamrocks during lunchperiods and asking for donations. After I garnered the support of the Beta Club, I knew that I hadto start advertising the walk-a-thon as much as I could. I thought a great opportunity to gainpublicity for the event was to hand out fliers during the Cherokee County Christmas Parade. Isigned up the Beta Club for the parade and I made posters for the members to hold and fliers forsome to pass out. The Parade was a huge success as we were able to give fliers to families whoseemed very interested and excited to attend the event. After that, I continued my publicityefforts by putting up posters and fliers around the school. I also went to local businesses in thearea such as in the Kroger shopping center and the Canton Marketplace and put posters up thereas well. Shortly after, I posted yard stakes at every school, subdivision, and major intersection.The yard stakes contain all the information about the event and it was great way to advertise
Torralba 3about the walk-a-thon. I then talked to the Fire Department to ask for their assistance during thewalk-a-thon and if they could be on hand in case of an emergency. They agreed to do so and twofirefighters were present on the day of my event. I also asked them if they could put theinformation of the event on the billboard in front of the Station and they graciously agreed to doso which definitely allowed the walk-a-thon to receive more publicity as cars drove by the sign.Then, I also made a Facebook event and invited all the people I knew to come to event. Thisway, I was able to have a rough estimation of the amount of people I was expecting to come tothe walk-a-thon. The Facebook event also allowed me to keep everyone up to date and tell themof any changes that came up. The weekend prior to the walk-a-thon, I went around to manydifferent stores asking for sponsorship and there were a lot of gracious donations made towardsthe Muscular Dystrophy cause. One of the biggest donations I received came from Kroger inwhich the managers donated 10 cases of twenty-four pack water and 8 boxes of eighteen packgranola bars for the event. This was enough to feed everyone that came out on the day of thewalk-a-thon. It was a really kind gesture from Kroger to donate all of those refreshments at nocost at all. The day before the walk-a-thon, I made a registration form and made a music playlistfor the event. I finalized all my details and by the day of the walk-a-thon, I had everything inorder. The walk-a-thon was a huge success. The Schopmann and the Gunn family had anamazing time and everyone that went was touched by the two families. A lot of people told methat the families inspired them and they learned so much from the event and have realized howblessed they truly are. They were all very glad that they attended the event and were able to helpme raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. Along with donations, shamrock sales, and theMuscular Dystrophy walk-a-thon, I was able to raise $2,400 to fund the research for the cure forMuscular Dystrophy. At the Beta Club convention in March, Ms. Angela Brown presented me
Torralba 4with a certificate for organizing and hosting the walk-a-thon. She also mentioned CreekviewHigh school in her speech and called us the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s “lucky charm.” Itwas definitely a huge honor to be recognized in front of all the Beta Clubs in the State ofGeorgia. The money I raised from the walk-a-thon will allow me to send 3 children withMuscular Dystrophy to MDA summer camp. I will be able to touch their lives and make adifference through my senior project and I am so happy with how everything turned out in theend. Achieving my final product didn’t come without any problems. I ran into quite a fewchallenges along the way. One of the biggest problems that I encountered was that I could notfind a place where I could print t-shirts for the walk-a-thon and to also print the yard stakes thatwould advertise the event. I went around town to every printing shop I saw, but in every shop,the price was way too high for the budget I had. I set my budget at around $500 and I definitelydidn’t want to exceed that number since my parents were paying for all the costs of my project. Ifound a number of a printing shop on a billboard and called that number, but again the price wasabsolutely unreasonable. After a lot of researching and asking around, I finally found ChandlerGraphics. They provided me the opportunity to print the t-shirts and the yard stakes all at a costof about $500 which was exactly what I was aiming for. They also helped me pick the t-shirt andyard stake design which made it much easier for me. The end result was a very good lookingshirt and a wonderful yard stake as you can see here. Another problem that I faced was time.With such a huge event, time is everything and at moments I felt I didn’t have enough of it. Timejust seemed to slip by so fast every month that a lot of items on my checklist started piling up. Itwas definitely stressful trying to get myself back on track, but I managed to get everythingorganized and done on time for the walk-a-thon.
Torralba 5 Along with all the problems that I encountered, I also had to make a couple changes tomy project. The biggest change I made was changing the location of my event. Originally, thewalk-a-thon was supposed to be held at the football stadium. Unfortunately, due to inclementweather conditions the day of the walk-a-thon, I had to find another place to host the event. Iknew that I didn’t want to cancel the event because there were so many people who had alreadytold me they would be coming and I didn’t want the weather to put a damper on everything. Mrs.Orfale and I searched the school for a place where we could hold the walk-a-thon. At the time,there was a basketball tournament going on so we definitely couldn’t use the gym. Fortunately,the cafeteria was not being used so we decided to move the walk-a-thon into the cafeteria. I wasdefinitely a little nervous that people weren’t going to show up, but there was definitely nothingto be worried about as everyone found their way to the cafeteria and together we raised a lot ofmoney even with the horrible weather outside. The Cherokee Connection actually recognized thewalk-a-thon in a brief article on their online newspaper where they mentioned the rainstorm thatcaused me to move the walk-a-thon inside to the cafeteria. I was very honored that they took thetime to write an article about my walk-a-thon. My facilitator was Mrs. Linda Orfale. She is the 10th grade English teacher here atCreekview High School. I chose her as my facilitator because she has had prior experiencehosting walk-a-thons. Just last year, she was the main sponsor for Creekview’s 1st ever MuscularDystrophy walk-a-thon. With that in mind, I knew she was the perfect facilitator for my seniorproject. She was an essential part to the success of my project. I would have been lost withouther. She kept me on track and reassured me whenever I was stressed out or unsure of what to do.She took charge very well and I could rely on her whenever I had a question or a problem with
Torralba 6the project. I am extremely grateful for her help. She was a great, hands-on facilitator and Idefinitely could not have had such a great outcome with the walk-a-thon if it wasn’t for her. The research paper I wrote last semester most definitely helped me with my final product.I wrote my research paper over the Muscular Dystrophy disease. I believe this allowed me toreally understand the full extent of the disease. One very interesting that I found out was thatmost children diagnosed with the disease don’t past live past their teenage years. This reallyaffected me and saddened me greatly. When I read this piece of information, I was so takenaback and inspired to work as hard as I could to make the walk-a-thon as successful as possibleso that the money I raise can hopefully find a cure for these children. Through my research, Ialso found many organizations that raise money for Muscular Dystrophy and it was from that,that I discovered one of the fundraising opportunities was to host a walk-a-thon. If I hadn’twritten the research paper, I don’t think I would have been as passionate about the project, butbecause I was able to really understand and connect with my topic, I became more eager to makea difference. My research was a great motivation factor for me to get focused and determined tohave a great product. Doing my senior project, I learned a lot about my work ethic and what I can do toimprove myself for future projects. I see that organization is very important if you are planning ahuge event. Also, staying on schedule and meeting deadlines is essential for the project to runsmoothly. Overall, this was a great learning experience for me. I know that I will continuesupporting the Muscular Dystrophy cause and will continue to fight for a cure and do anything Ican to help that organization. This whole process has truly touched me and I am so privileged tohave taken part in such a great cause.
Torralba 7 As a result of completing the project, I have learned that I really do want to pursue acareer in being a doctor. There is no better satisfaction than being able to lend a helping hand andby being a doctor, I can save lives and make an impact on the people around me. This projectsolidified my plans for the future. I plan to attend the University of Georgia in the fall where Iwill major in pre-pharmacy on the track to becoming a doctor. This project has been a greatstarting point for me and I know when I’m in college, I will strive to continue making adifference on the world around me. So I leave you today with a quote from Jackie Mutcheson. “It takes each of us to make adifference for all of us.” Thank you so much for your time and I greatly appreciate your interest in my project.