Group photo of the Red Deer Steps for Life planning committee

Close up on Red Deer Walk committee

A conversation with Chair person Donna Trottier

One of the best ways to generate new ideas for planning a Steps for Life walk comes from sharing ideas from one committee to another. We interviewed Donna Trottier from Red Deer, Alberta. Red Deer had a very successful year – increasing both their sponsorship and their media presence. Below is an interview with Donna on some of the changes they tried this year. Part of this interview was published in Threads newsletter, Fall 2015.

Question:  What do you feel was your biggest success as a committee this year?

Donna:   We had a really solid committee this year which helped spread out the workload.  We are happy about the diverse group of people that got involved in our event.

We did a really good job of splitting up the responsibilities on the committee.  Main roles were:  Fundraising, Advertising/Marketing, Logistics/Volunteers, Registration.  Everyone on our committee was looking for sponsorship and door prizes but we had one person on the committee who really went after donations and did the lion’s share of fundraising.  Having someone (and the right person) focused on fundraising seemed to help bring in more support.

Q:  What did you do that was new in organizing this year’s walk?

Donna:  We did quite a few new things this year:

We held a pre-registration day on the Wednesday before the walk.  Teams came in that day and deposited their fundraising money and picked up their t-shirts. Bruins Plumbing and Heating helped us host this preregistration day.  We only had about six teams come in and preregister but the registration team said that it really helped on walk day to have those big ones already completed.

We got special t-shirts made for the volunteers so that they could be recognized at the event – the cost of these t-shirts was donated by a local safety company and the apparel company.

We decorated the area around registration.

We also had a giant cheque made so that we could do a photo opportunity with the companies that donated larger sums of money.  The companies liked this and all wanted the cheque photos sent to them.  It also worked as a good way to thank them for their donation after the walk.

We had a professional photographer at the walk this year so that we didn’t have to worry about taking photos and could focus on our other tasks.

We promoted the walk in a few different locations:

  • We placed ads at the movie theatre on screen before shows.  This is quite costly at major chain theatres but we gave a test run at Carnival cinemas – our locally-owned theatre in Red Deer.
  • We also got a local radio station as a media sponsor this year – Big 105 and The Drive 106.  They committed to a series of promotional announcements about the walk on 2 different stations, on-air interview of our walk committee chair the day before the walk, and they had originally agreed to broadcast from the walk on walk day.  Unfortunately they were double-booked on our walk day and could not be at the event, so they gave us extra advertisements to make up for not being there.
  • Shaw Cable came out and interviewed the committee chair at the walk location a couple of weeks before the walk and then played the clip in their local community listings.

Q: Did you try anything that didn’t work?

Donna: The preregistration day needed to be promoted more so that more people realized they could come in early to register.  And the radio station media sponsor was not able to attend on walk day so we had to find someone else with audio equipment for speeches/announcements and music.

Q:  When will you start organizing for the next year’s walk? What are your first steps?

Donna:  We will likely get together in November for our first meeting. Our first steps will be determining who will be on the committee again. We are also considering changing from Sunday to Saturday, because on that first Sunday of May there are three other fundraising walks in the Red Deer area. We are going to consider Saturday to spread out the available resources over the weekend and to hopefully get a radio station to attend our event.

Q:  What’s your favourite thing about organizing Steps for Life?

Donna: My favorite thing about organizing the event is working with a great group of people on a team to make a difference.  All of the folks on our team are kind, helpful, enthusiastic, go-getters who want to help with the walk, make it fun and get the job done.  At the end of the walk we all had a bit of euphoria with our successes.

One of my favorite moments on walk day:  We had a fitness instructor come in and do stretches with the participants before the walk.  He was up on stage showing the stretches when a little girl about two or three years old that did not know him went up on the stage beside him and mimicked him. This was right after all of the emotional speeches so it was quite a crowd pleaser and a chance for everyone to laugh and decompress. She was even yelling out the instructions for stretching to the crowd. Very cute.

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