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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin's Walk With Me Fundraiser

Whole Foods joins the cause and raises funds for the campaign

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Celebrating 80 years, Easter Seals is a nonprofit that provides a full range of services through 15 different programs for individuals with disabilities from infants to adults. One of the largest fundraisers for the Southeast Wisconsin branch is the Walk With Me event, which has collectively raised more than $500,000 since 2009. This year’s goal is to raise $100,000. Susan Russell, Easter Seals vice president of community engagement, and Sean Lay, Whole Foods marketing and community relations specialist for Milwaukee, spoke with Off the Cuff about the upcoming June 13 Walk With Me.

 

Can you tell me about Walk With Me?

Lay: The Walk With Me event is a fundraising campaign that Easter Seals does yearly at the Summerfest grounds during opening night of Polish Fest. Polish Fest completely donates the resources and facility to the campaign and all the money that the walkers generate goes directly to Easter Seals and stays in southeastern Wisconsin. It’s a very community-based program.

 

Russell: The walk is our biggest event to introduce Easter Seals to the public and the funds raised provide services for people who may not have resources. Registration begins at 5 p.m. The registration tent will be right outside the main gate—you can just pick up a wristband there, come into Polish Fest for free and walk for free. If you raise $50, then you get a shirt and a bag with some coupons and goodies. The entertainment is provided by The All-Star SUPERband on the Johnson Controls stage and the walk around Lakeshore Park starts at 6:30 p.m. It’s not a big walk—you can make the turning point at a half a mile or you can walk the whole mile. Honorary Ambassadors will tell their stories about how Easter Seals has impacted them as well.

 

How did Whole Foods become involved with Easter Seals?

Lay: I have worked with Easter Seals for about seven years now in various capacities. One of the gentlemen on the nonprofit’s board of directors is my former boss and he had brought me into the organization. He and I did a lot of charitable work with them and then I brought that over with me to Whole Foods.

 

Russell: Sean is on our Walk Committee and is wonderful. Being involved with Easter Seals before, he realized the impact it has on the community and it really meant something to him. He took it with him to his next job, which is really cool.

 

What kind of fundraising is Whole Foods doing to help support Walk With Me 2014?

Lay: Once a quarter, we have a program here called Community Support Day, where we give 5% of our total sales of the day to an organization of our choosing. An Easter Seals Community Support Day will be held on June 4 at Whole Foods (2305 N. Prospect Ave.) to raise money for the Walk With Me campaign. Representatives from Easter Seals will be here from 12-5 p.m.

 

What is most exciting about working with Easter Seals?

Lay: They’re a great group of people with a great cause. When you’re at the facility, you see how much care and time they put in with the people in the programs. It’s a mutual, smiling, happy, laughing facility.

 

Russell: It’s wonderful to come to work every day and to be able to see the difference you’re making in people’s lives. People don’t realize that we’re the largest provider of Autism services in the country because it’s not in our name. I’m just so proud of the work that people do here.

 

To learn more about Easter Seals and the Walk With Me fundraiser, visit eastersealswise.com. For more information about Whole Foods, visit wholefoodsmarket.com.