Thoughts about Giving

Create Your Own Fundraising Event for MS

By Angel Serrano, CFRE

Each year individuals and groups turn their passions and interests into unique fundraisers to raise thousands of dollars for MSAA. All fundraisers, large and small, play a vital role in raising awareness and funds to help support MSAA’s free programs and services.

Simple ideas include bake sales, jeans’ day at the office, coin toss, bingo party, or donating a percentage of sales for a day. Other exciting ideas include a car show, polar plunge, “Strike MS” bowling competition, or sporting event such as a golf, soccer, tennis, or basketball tournament. If you enjoy swimming, you can also create your own Swim for MS challenge – check out SwimForMS.org for more information! If interested in creating your own fundraiser, please visit support.mymsaa.org/create or email us at events@mymsaa.org.

To follow are just a few examples of inspirational individuals and groups who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of those affected by MS.

Photo of Alyssa, along with her mother Lynne and grandmother Linda
(L-R) Alyssa, along with her mother Lynne and grandmother Linda, raised nearly $3,000 at her 10th annual Nana’s Cookies Bake Sale.
Photo of 9-year-old Alyssa
Shown above is 9-year-old Alyssa.

Nana’s Cookies Bake Sale

At the age of nine, Alyssa Lewanowicz from Pennsylvania lost her great-grandmother due to complications from multiple sclerosis. Alyssa decided at that young age that she wanted to do something to help others with MS.

With the help of her mother, Lynne Goldberg, and grandmother, Linda Somers, Alyssa and her family have organized an annual bake sale for MSAA in memory of her “Nana.” Now, at the age of 20, Alyssa, along with Lynne and Linda, organized Nana’s Cookies 10th Annual Bake Sale. In 2016, this memoriam event raised nearly $3,000 to support MSAA’s programs and services.

Auburn Kicks for MS

On October 14, 2016, the Auburn University Soccer Team organized their 4th Annual Auburn Kicks for MS event in honor of three Auburn soccer alumni, all of whom were diagnosed with MS. The event takes place at Auburn University in Alabama each year during their regular soccer season. This honorarium event raised more than $3,200 to support MSAA and the MS community.

Atlantic City Polar Plunge

On January 1, 2017, the Atlantic City Polar Bear Club organized the 5th Annual Atlantic City Polar Plunge, which benefits MSAA and takes place each year in New Jersey. Michael Kahlenberg, one of the event organizers, has a friend with a son who was diagnosed with MS, so the club decided to support a nonprofit organization that helps those affected by MS.

This year, it was a beautiful, sunny day and many participants arrived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Sunday morning, eager to plunge into the icy waters to support MSAA and ring in the New Year! This unique event raised more than $4,000 with the help of generous sponsors and participants.

Photo of the O'Brien family
Pictured is the O’Brien family, organizers of the 9th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Golf Challenge in honor of Bobby O’Brien (near left). Joining him at the event is his sister Catherine, along with his father Joe (near right) and his brother Sean (far right).

Multiple Sclerosis Golf Challenge

In 2007, Bobby O’Brien was diagnosed with MS. The O’Brien family – Joe, Gayle, Bobby, Sean, Catherine, and Christopher – decided they wanted to support an MS organization that helps individuals each day to cope with the symptoms, just as Bobby must do.

On June 17, 2016, the O’Brien Family and close family friend, Matthew Watson, organized the 9th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Golf Challenge in Massachusetts. The event included many generous sponsors, 144 golfers, a 50/50 raffle and silent auction, plus a barbeque, all of which raised more than $11,000. Gayle stated, “The event is a chance for people to come together for a fun day of golf and to support multiple sclerosis awareness.”

Swim for MS: Team Enfinity

For her third year participating in Swim for MS, Natalie Domeisen recruited her friends to join in on the fun! Team Enfinity combined Swim for MS with the 2017 Speedo USMS 1-Hour ePostal National Championship this year. While the team swam as many laps as possible in one hour, they recruited donations for MSAA as well.

Natalie states, “We raised $1,000 for the MS Association, to provide services and goods for those with MS, their families, friends, and loved ones, while simultaneously raising awareness for the benefit of hydrotherapy and swimming for those with MS. Hydrotherapy is a critical approach to care for patients with MS. It is important to raise awareness about the benefits of swimming and its low-impact environment for the patients and families coping with MS. As a Division 1 swimmer, I can attest the emotional and physical reward of swimming is unparalleled. As a current medical student and former swimming rehabilitation volunteer, I have witnessed the tremendous healing of the body swimming can provide. This was my third Swim for MS and the money this fundraiser raised brings my personal fundraising total to $3,803.25 since 2009. I hope to have many more!”

Photo of Kimberly displaying a sign
Kristy Neal proudly displays a sign to commemorate 800 laps in honor of her best friend Kimberly.

Swim for MS: In Honor of Kimberly

Kristy Neal was determined to make a difference in the lives of those affected by multiple sclerosis by joining the Swim for MS challenge in honor of her best friend, Kimberly. Kristy and Kimberly met at a swim meet at the age of 8 and have been best friends ever since. Two years ago, Kimberly was diagnosed with MS. “It is very difficult to watch a loved one struggle with a disease like this, and I feel that Swim for MS is something I can do to help support her in her fight against MS,” Kristy says.

In October 2016, Kristy pledged to swim 25 miles as part of her Swim for MS challenge and raised nearly $800. Kristy says, “My favorite part of the challenge is that I am able to raise money for people who struggle with MS, while engaging in an exercise that I love. Participating in this challenge is very rewarding and allows me to honor my friend. If I can’t help ease the symptoms of this disease, I can at least help ease the financial burden of it for those in need.”

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