Great Strides, Great Stories
Great Strides harnesses the power of people with a shared vision and encourages collaboration, team building, and leadership, as we pursue a cure. In this section, we’ll feature a special person or team who played an integral role in Great Strides and within their local CF community. We hope you find these stories to be inspiring as we continue to take steps towards the finish line.
Click here to meet others featured in the Great Strides, Great Stories series.
Meet Linda and Helen: Great Strides Grandmas
Meet two grandmothers who began volunteering to support their grandkids with cystic fibrosis, but found so much more in the development of a new friendship and a deeper connection to the CF community.
How did these “Great Strides Grandmas” become the go-to volunteers for their local chapter’s Great Strides walks? They showed up.
How did you get started volunteering with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?
Helen: Three years ago, I moved across Ohio – from Cleveland to Columbus. I’d recently retired from a career in the nonprofit world and wanted to be closer to my daughter and her two grandchildren – Matthew and Maria – both of whom have cystic fibrosis. I moved into my new house, unpacked my belongings, and immediately got in my car and drove to the local Foundation chapter office. I told the staff: “This is where my heart belongs, use me however you can.”
Linda: Four years ago, I retired after a long career as a 911 dispatcher for the local police department. I knew I wanted to do something for my grandson, Kyle, who has CF. I’ve always participated in Great Strides and have fundraised, but I wanted to do more. I’m no stranger to high-stress situations and I wanted to keep working, so I called my local chapter and left a message asking how I could help.
What is one thing you’ve learned from your Great Strides volunteering?
Helen: I prefer not to pack and unpack. Linda is super organized and doesn’t like clutter, but she’s not as much a fan of being on the phone. Whereas I’m a people person. I do a lot of welcoming, mingling, and registration. I enjoy interacting with the people that come and helping build relationships. Our event attendees are so used to seeing Linda or me at events that when we’re not there for some reason or another everyone asks, “Where’s Linda and Helen?”
Linda: Well, I had NO idea how much work went into the walks behind the scenes. We had participated before, but I was so surprised at what it took to bring these events together. I’m a highly organized person and it bothers me when things are out of place, so I personally like packing up the bins for the walks. It’s a natural fit for me to get all of the materials organized and ready to send to the walk sites.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to volunteer but doesn’t know how?
Helen: Just show up. We all want to make an impact, but we can’t always write the big checks. I want to make a difference for my grandkids and I’m doing that by giving my time and reaching out to as many people as I can.
Linda: I was nervous. I knew I wanted to do something where it shows I’m contributing to CF. I thought, “I’m just going to do it.” Then I came in and sort of took over. I’ve put furniture together, helped move the office, repacked, and unpacked. When it came time to volunteer at my first event, I was scared. But everyone made my feel like family, and I’m so glad I called. I had no experience with the nonprofit world when I began volunteering, but it’s been so rewarding and I’ve learned so much.
Are you all friends in addition to being co-volunteers now?
Helen: Oh definitely. We go to dinner and celebrate events, we talk to each other on the phone constantly. We’ve really clicked. For both of us, it’s so rewarding. We’re not on the front lines, but we’re holding down the fort. There’s so many things that the chapters need help with. I tell our people all the time, “Let me worry about that, don’t spend your time on it. We’ve got it.” And then Linda and I sit and laugh as we stuff envelopes.
Linda: I would never have met Helen if it weren’t for volunteering for the CF Foundation. She’s great, we keep up with each other outside of “work” as we call it. She always lets me know that she’s thinking of me. And together, we know we’re making a difference for those who have CF.
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Great Strides, Great Stories
Meet Linda and Helen,
two grandmas who voluteer to support their grandkids with CF.
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