Making a Difference in the Lives of People Living with Cerebral Palsy:
One Step at a Time
By Dan Chalcraft
This September the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia will be hosting Steptember for the third straight year– an annual health and wellness fundraising challenge to raise funds to improve the lives of people living with cerebral palsy.
The challenge is for a team of one to four people to register for Steptember, complete 10,000 steps a day for 28 days in September, and collect pledges to raise money for CP. Walking isn’t the only activity that participants can do to achieve better health; swimming, yoga, running, strength training classes, dog walks, wheelchair basketball, and rugby have been activities that participants can do to help make a positive impact and difference in the lives of people living with cerebral palsy (CP). There are more than 40 activities you can convert to steps including activities suitable for people with a disability.
Each team will have seven virtual summits to climb during their fundraising journey. The number of steps it takes to reach the top of each summit is directly related to the height of the summit. Each participant will reach all seven summits and the top of their virtual mountain by the end of September if they reach their target steps per day.
Susanne Raab, Chair of the Steptember Committee, who participated in the challenge for the first time last year along with three of her colleagues, commented that they were surprised through doing the activities how much fun they had and how motivated they became to complete their 10,000 steps every day. “We had to be creative and stretch our comfort zones,” she said. “Last year our team raised over $8,000 and we were thrilled to be recognized as the top fundraising organization in Canada. This year we look forward to working even harder to beat that record.”
CP is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. It refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. The neurological condition normally occurs before, during, or after birth for a number of reasons usually it is a lack of blood supply, which means oxygen doesn’t flow to the brain causing brain damage or causing the brain to not fully develop. The damage leads to, among other things, problems with muscle development, control and movement.
Every 11 hours a Canadian child is born with CP and every hour 30 infants are born with CP globally. Cerebral Palsy is the most common disability in childhood and every step you take in September will go towards supporting cerebral palsy associations across Canada.
Raab said, “reflecting back on the last fundraising challenge, I would have to say that one of the most rewarding aspects of participating in Steptember is the conversations it started with family, friends and even strangers, who, once they understand more about what cerebral palsy is and how it affects people, were so generous and willing to contribute.”
Raab, who also practices as a lawyer at Pacific Medical Law, said, “we are all very connected to the lives and challenges of people living with cerebral palsy as many of our clients are children living with cerebral palsy. We see their daily struggles, but more importantly we see their strength and resilience in the face of these challenges. We also see the worry and concern in the faces of their parents, which is only overshadowed by their deep love for their child.”
She believes that it’s so rewarding to contribute to this fundraising effort. “We know that raising these funds is necessary to enable the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC to continue to support and provide services for people living with cerebral palsy, and we can see it makes a difference in the lives of people living with cerebral palsy.
Taewon Kook, a 28 year-old Port Moody resident, participated in the Steptember challenge last year and was introduced to wheelchair rugby and basketball indicating that these are his favourite activities to participate in. “Steptember has taught participants about perseverance by doing fundraising activities such as meeting potential donors and persuading them to contribute to the cause,” he said.
He decided to join the campaign due to the fact that he has CP and wants to make a difference. The Simon Fraser Sociology graduate plans to participate this year in the Steptember challenge and would like to reach out to people to ask for offline donations.