I gave my very first Toastmasters speech last night. I think it went well.
Unfortunately, they evaluate on technique and delivery rather than content. My content was the highlight of the speech – but they saw right through it and tore a strip off my speaking ability (which has seriously dwindled over the past years).
Regardless, I didn’t faint or throw up or lose my place completely, so it was a moderate success.
Actual content is after the jump if you’re interested.
I walk to work almost every day.
I don’t live very far away – I’m a stone’s throw from the Save-On Foods at Lougheed & Rosser.
Nevertheless, whenever someone asks me if I drive or take transit to work, and I answer ï¿½I walkï¿½ the response I get is usually a ï¿½good for youï¿½ accompanied by a look (and the occasional backward step) that just screams ï¿½I really hope crazy isn’t contagious!ï¿½
Last March though, I probably would have reacted the same way. I was the kind of person who would’ve driven 2 blocks to the strip mall, parked in front of the video store, then, once I dropped off my DVD, gotten back in my car and driven to the Pharmacy on the other side of the strip mall to pick up a few things before I drove the 2 blocks back home.
But last spring, the planets aligned and the stars twinkled just the right way, and I saw the commercial and heard the radio ads, and for the first time in a long time I was inspired. I figured I would do something ï¿½differentï¿½ and ï¿½challengingï¿½ and just plain ï¿½goodï¿½ and sign up for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer.
I got myself into an orientation ï¿½ and after a presentation that made everyone in the room, even grown men, tear up, the only thought running through my mind was ï¿½how could I not do this?
There were two components required to participate in the event: the first, the ability or willingness to train to be able to walk 60kms over two days; the second, raising a minimum of $2000 towards cancer research. Daunting goals to say the least, but the event coaches promised to be available for support every step of the way.
I figured Iï¿½d start with the walking. I mean, itï¿½s walking ï¿½ how hard could it be? So I put on my sweats and runners, grabbed my walkman, and headed out the door. I walked. And I walked. Then I walked some more. And when I was thinking ï¿½wow, Iï¿½ve really gone a long way ï¿½ nobody actually walks these kind of distances unless they have to,ï¿½ I turned around and walked the same path back home. That first day I walked for over 90 minutes. When I got home, I checked my pedometer, thinking I had accomplished something pretty significant. I had walked four-point-five-kilometers. Not even 10% of the distance Iï¿½d be expected to go in a few short months.
So the walking was going to take a little more work. Ok then. On to the Fundraising.
I donï¿½t know about all of you, but I donï¿½t know anyone whoï¿½s got $2000 to just hand over to charity in one shot, so it was fairly obvious that garnering that much money in donations wasnï¿½t going to be easy. Itï¿½s incredibly difficult for me to ask people for money (thereï¿½s a reason some of us are in sales, and some arenï¿½t!), but after the first few tries, I was completely and utterly amazed at the generosity of almost everyone I ran into. Friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and even perfect strangers all made donations that went far beyond what I ever expected. Of course, it was still a struggle.
I spent my entire summer of 2004 training every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning (and Iï¿½m telling ya, anyone who gets up at 6:00am EVERY Saturday morning for 2 and a half months deserves some sort of medal). I also helped organize and put on Four major fundraisers: Two Hot Dog Sales, a Scrapbooking crop, and a Pub Night.
Every week my training team walked a little further (including 10k on that really REALLY hot day in July), and slowly but surely the money kept rolling in. I was still a few hundred dollars short with two weeks to go, and put out a call to everyone I knew who hadnï¿½t donated yet. By Day Zero ï¿½ the Friday before the walk, I had raised Two-Thousand, One Hundred Forty-One dollars and eleven cents. Not too shabby.
And I have to say, there is nothing like the feeling you get after stumbling out of bed at 4am on a Saturday morning, and congregating with 2001 of your new best friends to be told that together you have raised over Seven Million, Twenty Nine Thousand Dollars for medical care and research. And did you know that the entire August rainfall record for the city of Vancouver was broken in ONE DAY on August 21st this summer? Well there is also nothing like trudging 35k through the pouring rain, and just when you think you canï¿½t take another step, seeing the smiling face of someone who has been standing outside all day in that pouring rain ï¿½ just so they can say ï¿½thank youï¿½ as you walk by.
I never wouldï¿½ve dreamed of walking much of anywhere before I completed the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. And every day as I crawl out of my warm bed, and lace up my shoes, and hit the pavement on my way here, I remember that. And thatï¿½s why I continue to walk to work.