This past year I have felt that I’ve continually taken one step forward and two steps back. The optimist in me hates to be thinking this way but sometimes we have to own it and acknowledge it to move forward again.
After the amazing 2014 year of Walk Your AS Off, a group of us decided it was beyond the time to take our community project to the next level. We realized that for us to be able to best service the AS community through the walk that we needed to incorporate and then become a US based non-profit organization. This core group consisting of Carrie, Ricky, Heather, Kelly, Adam, and me would become the new board of Walk AS One! The name – a spin off of the event we had been holding since 2011 by virtually connecting online and logging our collective steps taken on streets and trails all over the globe.
Our vision has been strong but our bodies and stamina not always enough to get us where we wanted to be on our path by our self imposed deadlines. We’ve made great strides but I know the six of us all feel the way so many do when they have a chronic disease – that we can never accomplish what we could if we were living a life without Ankylosing Spondylitis. These feelings eek out of all of us from time to time as we apologize to one another that something didn’t happen or get created or communicated as we planned and hoped.
I have personally felt a huge amount of guilt over my visibility, communication, and participation over this last year as I took on a new and very challenging career in real estate. I know the rest of the board has expressed similar feelings of letting each other and the community down because our bandwidth and energies can only go so far with all that we cope with to simply manage our personal lives. This guilt is awful – we all remind one another when it sneaks into our thinking that we are all doing the best we can – and that is enough! Even though we all often feel like we take one step forward and then two steps back, as a group of 6 people we’ve bonded through this process to such a tremendous extent that we will keep taking a step – when we are able, when we are strong, even, when we are weak. We will do it because we believe in walking together, as one, to make our vision a reality.
I hope as we continue to progress with this 100% ASer volunteer run, soon to be an official 501c3, that you will join us. The literal and figurative steps we all take together (no matter which direction) are huge successes because we aren’t letting AS beat us! Our steps taken in growing this organization mirror our walker’s challenges and fears: Can we do it? Will we stumble?
What if we fail… what if we fall?
These are the questions and internal dialogs we all share whether on the board or taking the first or one millionth donated step and it isn’t unique to people with AS.
We may falter a bit on our journey and have times we are more or less productive but we promise you and one another that we will fight through the difficulties to be here for you – the AS community we all love and respect so very much.
Please keep your eyes open for our weekly Wednesday posts – a pledge we’ve recently made to one another to stay connected to the community as we work through these next steps in our growth. We have World Arthritis Day coming up in October and we will be discussing how we will be participating this year. If you have ideas please email us at [email protected] and if you would like to join our volunteer group, please sign up HERE. We are looking for someone who can be our volunteer coordinator. It is a volunteer position – as everyone is with this organization but we’re an awesome and understanding crew (if I do say so myself!).
We’re growing and need lots of help to make sure we’re taking more steps forward than back!
Please feel free to contact me, Jennifer Visscher at [email protected] with any suggestions, thoughts, or wishes to donate time or money!
Thank you so much for being a part of our vision and future!
Jennifer Dye Visscher (Jenna)
Founder and CEO, Walk AS One