Karen Schoch is honoring her father’s military service with her commitment to The American Legion 100 Miles for Hope challenge.
Schoch, who is currently fourth overall in fundraising, learned about the third annual fitness/wellness campaign from her friend, Allyson Murphy. A member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Murphy is doing her 100 miles mostly on her motobike.
“She was doing the challenge and made me aware of it,” Schoch said, noting her dad, Richard, and Murphy’s husband, Bill Brown, both served in the 82nd Airborne Division. “When she sent me the link I figured that I could do it, too. It’s a great cause, it supports veterans and it’s a cool thing.”
The annual campaign challenges participants to cover 100 miles by walking, cycling, riding a motorcycle or covering the distance any way they choose by Labor Day. Schoch, who lives in Henniker, N.H., began walking 10,000 steps (roughly 4-5 miles) daily three years ago.
It also encourages participants to raise funds for the campaign’s beneficiary, The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation (V&CF). All proceeds from registrations and donations go directly to supporting disabled veterans and military families. (Learn more and register for the third annual challenge here.)
“I find fundraising fairly easily,” said Schoch, who has worked in human resources for nonprofits throughout her career. “For me, if I am doing it for a cause I believe in and I am doing it for something that strikes a chord in me, I know it will strike a chord in other people.”
Among her tips for others who may not feel at ease requesting donations from family members and friends:
• Focus on your connections: Schoch does not have social media accounts. For her fundraising she connects face-to-face with people to make the ask. She also approaches people who she has supported with donations in the past. “It’s all about relationships. They know I am not going to get behind something that is questionable. I don’t know anybody who can’t get behind a veteran. There are so many people who know what they have sacrificed and what they have given.”
• Find meaning: She reflects back to stories she’s heard from her dad, grandfather and Brown. “What is your connection to it? It’s the human connection that has meaning to other people. There’s meaning to it for me. And that’s how I try to connect with people.”
• Tell the story: “Cultivate the conversation with people you know. It’s all about story-telling. Let them know how the organization works and what the organization does, whatever the miracle is that these folks are doing. Show them that these folks can do what they do because of the funding. That’s story-telling to me. People hear that story and decide to be involved through giving.”
• Refer potential donors to the website: Schoch recommends potential donors review The American Legion website to learn about the Veterans & Children Foundation, how it supports veterans and more. “That story is way bigger than what I could tell. I refer them to your site where there is a lot of great stories.”
• Reassure potential donors: Some people may believe only big-ticket donors make a difference but that is not true. “Everybody wants to know they made a difference in this world. If they can only give $5, that’s OK because everybody is stepping up to do what they can. They are still supporting that story the best way they can.”
• Ask them to “consider” a donation: “When you make the ask, ask them to consider it. And don’t make people feel judged if they give $5, instead of $1 million. That still shows they connected with the story and they found meaning in it. They found value in it and made an impact in helping out. Make everyone feel special.”