Carson’s Village: Tell us about your fundraiser.
Jennifer Nugent: I hiked 11 miles one beautiful April Sunday in the mountains around my home in Monument, Colorado, and asked friends to consider donating $11 in support of my effort. I chose the number 11 and the month of April because that’s the month we lost Carson, who was 11 years old at the time. I set a goal to raise $111 and ended up raising $2,411.
CV: Why do you think you were able to exceed your goal by such a big margin?
JN: I am blessed with many caring, generous friends who like to help others. I also think that people really connect with the mission of Carson’s Village. For some, it’s because they are parents who are moved by the story behind the founding of Carson’s Village; for others, it’s because they’ve watched someone go through the trauma of sudden loss, or they’ve had to deal with the loss of a loved one themselves.
CV: What was your motivation to help Carson’s Village—your “why”, in other words?
JN: I felt very numb after we lost Carson, and to deal with that I just started hiking—kind of like the way Forest Gump just started running. It’s hard to say exactly why, it was just something my spirit and body were pushing me to do in order to work through my feelings. I ended up walking 11 miles a day for 11 days, for a total of 121 miles. Some days I had friends with me, but on many days I walked alone and in silence. It was a very draining experience, physically and emotionally, but also a cathartic one.
When the anniversary of Carson’s passing rolled around, I wanted to do something similar—but also something more manageable, since another 121 mile hike wasn’t realistic. I also wanted to do something very purposeful for Carson’s Village—not just because of my friendship with April (Carson’s mom), but because of my own experience of losing my father when he was only 53 years old. I still remember how unprepared my family was to make all of the endless decisions, large and small, that faced us in the days following his accident. We really could have used help from an organization like Carson’s Village. So I wanted to create awareness for Carson’s Village, but I also wanted to raise money. That’s why I selected the $11 donation request and paired it with the one-day, 11-mile hike.
It turned out to be one of the best things I could have done for myself. In the last year, I had been dealing with a lot of challenges (in addition to watching my dear friend April struggle with an unimaginable loss) and was feeling very caught up in my own problems. Working for Carson’s Village took me out of my self-involvement, because doing for others ALWAYS makes you feel better.
CV: What tips can you offer for anyone who wants to put together their own fundraiser for Carson’s Village?
JN: If you have a big idea, by all means go for it—but don’t feel like you have to pull off some major event in order to help. If you raise $100 and make 10 people aware of Carson’s Village in the process, then you’ve made a difference.
Other tips: Use all the tools at your disposal to spread the word, like social media, texting and email. Pictures are always helpful, too—during my fundraiser, for example, I posted a lot of images of the scenery along my hike, as well as selfies from the trail. People seemed to enjoy them. Also, be sure and share your personal story. Let people know why Carson’s Village is important to you, so they in turn feel more connected to the cause.
CV: Speaking of the “why”: Any advice for people who want to connect with their “why”, or their motivation for getting involved in charity or cause?
JN: Connecting with your ‘why’ is a very personal thing. It comes from an emotional place. As a mother, my ‘why’ is almost always my children. I cannot fathom what April went through, but as a mother I knew I had to do something. Find something you’re passionate about, work towards finding a solution for problems that you see, and don’t stop. I am in awe of April and Jason and the beauty they’ve created from such tragedy. Carson’s Village is a gift. And as long as I can walk I’ll be helping to raise money for this organization.
Jennifer Nugent is a fitness coach and mom living in Monument, Colorado. You can learn more about her when you check out her blog, “Falling Back on Funny”.
If you’d like to energize your “why” and do your own fundraiser for Carson’s Village, please get in touch – we’d be happy to offer suggestions and support.