Fundraising walks now going virtual amid coronavirus outbreak

The spring season is typically a time when many charities hold walks and events, but this year, organizations are being forced to adjust their fundraisers to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and the regulations that come with it.

New England Donor Services (NEDS) is one of many nonprofits making their fundraising walk virtual.

Their annual “Blue & Green Walk” helps raise money and awareness of the importance of organ donation.

“Because this mission is still so important and the need for transplant has not changed, we’re switching it up a little,” said New England Donor Services Development and Public Education Manager Caitlyn Bernabucci. “We’re going to go virtual for our walk.”

Throughout the month of April, NEDS is encouraging people to walk 8.75 miles – eight for the number of lives one organ donor can save, and 75 for the number of people who can be healed through a tissue donation.

“Fundraise with us to support an awesome mission, and then walk those 8.75 miles from home where it’s safe to do so and help us celebrate the gift of life,” said Bernabucci. “We want to help the 5,500 people that are currently waiting across New England for a transplant, so we’re hoping for great numbers and a great turnout for our first virtual Blue & Green Walk!”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is also making changes.

They rely on their annual “Mental Health For All” walks to raise much-needed money for their programs.

"It's incredibly important to NAMI Mass.,” said Deputy Director of NAMI Mass. Karen Gromis. “It's responsible for 30 - 40% of our annual budget.”

For the first time ever, the dozens of NAMI Walks across the country will be stepping off together virtually on May 30.

The organization hopes to reach its fundraising goal.

“Our goal was $700,000. We raised $638,000 last year, and unfortunately, we think we’re going to take a significant hit,” said Gromis. “We’re going virtual. It’s unchartered territory, and we’re preparing for the worst.”

Gromis said the organization’s programs have seen an increase in participation in recent weeks. She attributes this to the stress and anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our support groups have been in more demand,” said Gromis. “I think now we're all stricken with anxiety and stress, we live in very stressful times.”

She’s urging anyone who can to donate to NAMI and to participate in their virtual walk on May 30.

“Register, donate, recruit a team, give to another participant that you may know,” said Gromis. “We just need help."

Boston 25 has been a longtime partner of the Mental Health For All Walk.

Click for more information on the Blue & Green Virtual Walk for New England Donor Services and the NAMIWalks Massachusetts for National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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