The Great Strides walk event is CFF’s largest national fundraiser that seeks to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis (CF), and shed light on the difficulties that CF patients endure. Participants can form a family team, a national corporate team, or a civic group team.
Ten years ago, Jedd Williams formed a family team called Emily’s Hope to participate in Great Strides after his daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with CF. His goal was to fight for his daughter and support the foundation.
Williams records a video each year to provide an update about Emily, and to keep the community informed about CFF’s work.
“When there is something big that happens, we make sure that our community knows that it’s because of their donations that so much progress has been made,” Williams, managing director at Cisco Systems, said in a press release.
He contacted Cisco, a California-based technology company, with an opportunity to form a national corporate team that could involve more people and create a more substantial impact. The national corporate team is an expansion of his family team.
“Cisco is very philanthropic as a culture, so they were immediately very invested in raising awareness and supporting my fundraising efforts,” Williams said.
The national corporate team is a company-based team where employees participate at three or more walk event locations. In addition to supporting the CF patients and families, it is a team-building exercise that brings together their employees from across the country, and helps develop leadership skills and boost their morale.
Cisco team members have access to Emily’s Hope team T-shirts created by Williams as a gesture to unite the team nationwide.
“We send out around 600 shirts across the country each year. Every now and then I’ll see my T-shirt, and I’ll ask the person wearing it, ‘Hey where did you get that?’ and they’ll say, ‘This guy Jedd at Cisco sent it to me,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m Jedd!’ It’s moments like that where you realize just how small the world is and the impact you’re having,” Williams said.
The teams have been successful in reaching their fundraising goal and spreading awareness about CF, and they will continue to contribute toward the cause, according to Williams.
“Probably the best part about all of this is that we’ve been able to establish a community and get to know each other even after walk day. Together, we’ve raised a lot of money, have driven significant awareness, and made a lot of progress. But we aren’t done yet,” he said.
More information about participating in Great Strides events can be found here.