Just get out there and ask

TBBCF fundraiser has some tips on finding donations

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

Linda Litsch says it’s not hard for her to ask for donations for the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation which dedicates 100 percent of its fundraising donations to cancer research. But she knows that for others it is an uncomfortable proposition.

Her suggestion – just do it.

“A few minutes of being uncomfortable is nothing compared to what they’re going through,” she said, referring to friends and acquaintances who are facing various stages of breast cancer, and the thousands of other women who face the disease every day. It’s those faces she thinks about in her approach to raise money.

Litsch is about to participate in the 13th annual Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut. On Oct. 6, it will the be10th time she’ll be walking the entire 26.2-mile marathon.

Since 2009, she has raised thousands of dollars for TBBCF. The first year, she walked all 26.2 miles after seeing a flyer on the bulletin board at a Stop & Shop. She walked in the pouring rain, got blisters, lost a couple toenails and cried the whole time. She said it was one of the best things she ever did. She dyed a lock of her hair pink eight years ago and to this day maintains the hot pink highlight to show solidarity with all those facing breast cancer.

The retired state of Connecticut corrections officer, who has her own health issues with fibromyalgia, said holding fundraisers and training for the annual walk are ways to give back to her community. But reaching out and helping others also keeps her mind off of her own problems.

“It makes me feel better to focus on others,” she said. “It helps me.”

Litsch sees opportunities to raise money everywhere. She asks local businesses if she can put a Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer donation jar near the register. She sells t-shirts and bracelets, holds yard sales and offers baked goods for free but asks for a donation. She’s known in her neighborhood for her homemade moon pies. She’s organized pasta dinners and a comedy night, where local comedians donated their time and there were chances to win prizes. The first year she did the comedy night she raised $3,000.

She also sends out a personal appeal on social media to all her friends, letting them know why she’s raising money and explaining TBBCF and its mission. She remains hooked on the group because 100 percent of donations goes into grants for cancer research. To date, TBBCF has given out more than $4 million in research grants.

She gets her whole family involved. Her husband is the muscle when she holds yard sales, and all four of her children have walked at least part of the marathon, raising their own money to do so. Her 12-year-old son, Kaden, also helps raise money. For a couple of years, he set up a lemonade stand in Groton during the annual Sailfest fireworks show in July, giving away glasses of lemonade in return for a donation. One year he collected $451, Litsch said.

One of her most infamous fundraising projects was called “Flush Out Breast Cancer.” It involved pink toilets filled with flowers. For a $20 fee, she would plant the toilet bowl on someone’s front yard…for $10 she would take it away. For $30, she guaranteed she would never leave a pink toilet in your yard, even if someone paid her to do it.

“They were clean. I scrubbed them,” she said.

Litsch said the key to her success is soliciting all year, not just the few weeks before the October walk.

“Breast cancer isn’t a one-month disease,” she said.

Other Fundraising Tips

If you want to walk in the 13th annual Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut marathon the first thing you need to do is go to the website www.TBBCF.org and sign up. Wait for an email message and set up a fundraising page. If you need help with the page contact Ellen Swercewski at eswer@sbcglobal.net.

The best websites are the ones that tell a personal story. Tell people why you are walking and what it means to you to contribute to helping find a cure for breast cancer. Send out emails with the link to your fundraising page to family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Create a team and get others to walk with you.

The best time to solicit for funds on social media is Thursday or Friday. Many people check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the weekends, so make an appeal to them just before the weekend.

A personal letter sent snail mail is also a useful tool. For those who are unsure of their writing abilities, sample letters are available at www.tbbcf.org

If anyone wants to sponsor a fundraising event, TBBCF can also provide some guidance and marketing materials to hand out.

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