Tucson Walk-Run-N-Roll

By Barbara Sattler

“We need to have a walk in Tucson,” Julie says.

“You guys can do a walk,” Chitra says.

“No, no, no,” says my little voice.

Julie Barry and I met in 2009 and started a support group in Tucson, AZ. At times, we met every month and had 4 or 5 participants.

Times change. Some of our members moved and others weren’t able to devote time for a walk, so if there was a walk, Julie and I were the only two people in Tucson willing to plan it. To be fair, Julie was the only one willing. I’m retired, busy as I want to be, and as I grow older, I have less energy. Old age or TM, I can’t say for sure.

I had this horrible vision in my head of the walk being a complete flop – only a few people coming, spending more on planning than we took in. Because of the great weather, and caring Tucson community, it seems there are 3 to 4 walks or runs or bike events every weekend. AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple Myeloma, Breast Cancer, Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Melanoma to name a few. Nobody has ever heard of TM. Who would show up?

“We need to have a walk in Tucson. Phoenix had the first Arizona one last year and they’ll help.” Julie says.

“You guys can do a walk,” Chitra says.

“No, no, no,” says my little voice.

Julie and I met a couple times and talked about how, when, and where. She was enthusiastic and I pretended to be. Julie suggested the zoo. I love the Tucson zoo. It’s big enough to have lots of animals to see and small enough to get through it in about an hour and a half. It’s not full of bus traffic or extremely crowded. You can get a good view of the animals and the zoo is pro-conservation and involved in species survival programs.

We arranged to meet Meghan, a zoo employee who was assigned to help with our event and invited Gail Buch and Kate Krietor from Phoenix to join us. They planned the 2018 Phoenix Walk-Run-N-Roll, a tremendous success. Without them we never would have had a successful event.

The walk was planned for March 30, 2019 which turned out to be a beautiful spring day. In Tucson, it can be very hot, but it wasn’t. About 80 people had pre-registered from Tucson, Phoenix, Lake Havasu, Casa Grande, and Eager, Arizona; Modesto, California; and Chicago Illinois.

Julie, Gail, Kate, myself, and our friends and spouses met at 7:00 am at the zoo and got ready putting out food that had been donated, setting up a raffle table and t-shirt table, hanging up enlargements of TMA members’ stories explaining how the various neuro-immune disorders the TMA supports impacted them. Every couple of minutes, we’d get an update that more people had shown up. (We believe the final count was 96.)

The event turned out to be a great success. We had inspiring speeches. Jordan, a young man with TM who was diagnosed incorrectly, and his mom, Kimberly, not only spoke about their situation but brought along about 30 Team Jordan folks. Craig, who had TM and was formerly a pilot, spoke. Ronnie, a mother of four, spoke about her journey with ADEM.

We took group pictures then had the official TMA walk. The zoo turned out to be a great venue. After we completed our program, part of the ticket price allowed participants to remain at the zoo till closing.

We brought in $11,000 which was $10,500 more than I expected.

For me, one of the highlights was meeting Kelly from California who had TM for several years, but had never met anyone with TM before.

Julie and Chitra Krishnan, Executive Director of the TMA, were right. We could do a walk. Thanks again to Gail and Kate for their enthusiasm and hard work, Debbie Capen for the TMA pins, Jordan and Kimberly for speaking and Team Jordan for coming, and Jeremy Bennett, the TMA Community Partnerships Manager for all his help in planning and being part of the walk. Thanks to Julie for persuading me to do this, choosing the zoo, and making fabulous pumpkin bread.

If you have thoughts about doing a walk or other event, now is the time.

Barbara Sattler is on the Board of The Transverse Myelitis Association. While a city court magistrate in Tucson, Arizona, Barbara contracted transverse myelitis. She took four months to recover before returning to work and was later appointed to the superior court bench. Barbara retired in 2008. Since retirement, she has written three novels and has committed all her publications’ proceeds to the TMA. Barbara’s books are available for purchase on Amazon.com. Barbara also has a blog.

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