Supporting the Center for Celiac Research through “Making Tracks for Celiacs”

About this time last year, my family and I participated in “Making Tracks for Celiacs” along with extended family and friends, most of whom join us every year for this event which means so much to us. We have been doing this twice a year for 5 years now — forming a team for the Buffalo walk and going just as a family to the Rochester walk.

2013 is the 12th year for “Making Tracks for Celiacs,” which is an annual fundraising event, organized and managed by the Center for Celiac Research at Mass General. These events around the country have raised almost $2,000,000 to date. The money is used to increase awareness and support research (75% of funds) as well as national and local celiac projects (25% of funds).

This year there are events held in these states: AL, MD, MI, MN, NY and VA, and are usually planned by a local gluten-free diet support group such as the one I belong to.  Check out the main website for “Making Tracks for Celiacs” to learn which cities hold events, which locations are walks versus run/walks, and how you can get involved! Some will be happening soon but others aren’t held until Autumn, which leaves you plenty of time to put a team together — or just enter yourself and/or your own family.

We choose to get a local team together because it is a really great way to show support and love to g-free kids, and it’s important for them to see the “regulars” who attend and donate year after year.  It’s cool to show them how the numbers don’t dwindle off, either — last year we collected the most money we ever have, and had more walkers than any other year, including many who join us annually. My girls know they are not forgotten and that they are backed by many friends and loved ones on their gluten-free journey. It’s something they look forward to every year.

Our team last year was called “Team G-Free Kid” and together we raised $545 to donate to the Center for Celiac Research, along with entry fees paid by over 20 team members. Even though that seems like a lot to us, other “go-getters” have already collected thousands of dollars each for their teams! If you’d like to collect donations (it’s not mandatory) you can easily start your own personal donation page or team page through CeliacWalk.org, and email your friends and family about it. Registration is simple as well. Everything you need to know is in the green column on the lefthand side of that site.

For the first few years, Morgan was the star of our team, but now Lindsey shares the spotlight, too, since she’s been gluten-free for over a year now. We also had a newly gluten-free and casein-free friend (below) and his family join our team for the walk last year, plus dozens of other kids in attendance.

At both of the walks we attend, there is always a ton of stuff for kids to do….clowns, balloon artists, face painting, fake tattoos, stickers, bounce houses, games, local mascots in attendance, special kid goodie bags, story time and all kinds of things. Obviously, different locations will have different activities, but from what I hear, most, if not all, are very kid-friendly.

At this year’s walk, the organizers were also selling these awareness bracelets which support the Center for Celiac Research. For more details on these, please read this post.

There are also a good number of local and national gluten-free food vendors at these events as well, giving out free product samples, coupons and learning material… Many thanks to the generous companies who donate goods towards these walks!

And if the other events are anything like the two we attend, rest assured that you will bring home a crazy amount of gluten-free samples, bars and full-sized product packages. And, if your friends and family are anything like ours, much of their food (from their own goodie bags) will be passed back for your family to enjoy.

All in all, we get a lot out of these walks. When you are among so many other gluten-free folks, there is a huge sense of camaraderie, and you know you are supporting a great cause: celiac disease (and non-celiac gluten sensitivity) research and awareness. Our daughters feel special — especially at the walk where we form a team, and they are always excited about all of the samples they get to try and take home, knowing everything is gluten-free and there’s no need (for once) to question anything. The walk itself is good, healthy family time that you can really soak in and enjoy, knowing that you’re making a difference and that your kids are swelling with pride.

If you are nowhere near any of these walks, you still have three options…
#1: Get some people together and start one (see “How to start your own walk” on CeliacWalk.org) in a new location; #2: Donate online towards the cause; or #3: Try something different: Join Team Gluten Free for any race around the country. How does it work? Read more about one family’s experience here.

Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and let everyone else take action…

As we like to say, “Celiac disease isn’t contagious, but awareness is.
Please help spread it!”

Supporting the Center for Celiac Research through “Making Tracks for Celiacs”

This past weekend my family and I participated in “Making Tracks for Celiacs” along with extended family and friends, most of whom join us every year for this event which means so much to us. We have been doing this twice a year for almost 5 years now — forming a team for the Buffalo walk and going just as a family to the Rochester walk.

This is the 11th year for “Making Tracks for Celiacs,” which is an annual fundraising event, organized and managed by the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland. These events around the country have raised almost $2,000,000 to date. The money is used to increase awareness and support research (75% of funds) as well as national and local celiac projects (25% of funds).

Currently there are annual events held in these states: AL, FL, KY, MD, MI, MO, MN, NY, OH and VA, and are usually planned by a local gluten-free diet support group such as the one I belong to.  Check out the main website for “Making Tracks for Celiacs” to learn which cities hold events, which locations are walks versus run/walks, and how you can get involved! Some will be happening soon but others aren’t held until Autumn, which leaves you plenty of time to put a team together — or just enter yourself and/or your own family.

We choose to get a local team together because it is a really great way to show support and love to g-free kids, and it’s important for them to see the “regulars” who attend and donate year after year.  It’s cool to show them how the numbers don’t dwindle off, either — this year we collected the most money we ever have, and had more walkers than any other year, including many who join us annually. My girls know they are not forgotten and that they are backed by many friends and loved ones on their gluten-free journey. It’s something they look forward to every year.

Our team this year was called “Team G-Free Kid” and together we raised $545 to donate to the Center for Celiac Research, along with entry fees paid by over 20 team members. Even though that seems like a lot to us, other “go-getters” have already collected thousands of dollars each for their teams! If you’d like to collect donations (it’s not mandatory) you can easily start your own personal donation page or team page through CeliacWalk.org, and email your friends and family about it. Registration is simple as well. Everything you need to know is in the green column on the lefthand side of that site.

For the first few years, Morgan was the star of our team, but now Lindsey shares the spotlight, too, since she’s been gluten-free for over a year now. We also had a newly gluten-free and casein-free friend (below) and his family join our team for the walk this year, plus dozens of other kids in attendance.

At both of the walks we attend, there is always a ton of stuff for kids to do….clowns, balloon artists, face painting, fake tattoos, stickers, bounce houses, games, local mascots in attendance, special kid goodie bags, story time and all kinds of things. Obviously, different locations will have different activities, but from what I hear, most, if not all, are very kid-friendly.

At this year’s walk, the organizers were also selling these awareness bracelets which support the Center for Celiac Research. For more details on these, please read this post.

There are also a good number of local and national gluten-free food vendors at these events as well, giving out free product samples, coupons and learning material… Many thanks to the generous companies who donate goods towards these walks!

And if the other events are anything like the two we attend, rest assured that you will bring home a crazy amount of gluten-free samples, bars and full-sized product packages. And, if your friends and family are anything like ours, much of their food (from their own goodie bags) will be passed back for your family to enjoy.

All in all, we get a lot out of these walks. When you are among so many other gluten-free folks, there is a huge sense of camaraderie, and you know you are supporting a great cause: celiac disease (and non-celiac gluten sensitivity) research and awareness. Our daughters feel special — especially at the walk where we form a team, and they are always excited about all of the samples they get to try and take home, knowing everything is gluten-free and there’s no need (for once) to question anything. The walk itself is good, healthy family time that you can really soak in and enjoy, knowing that you’re making a difference and that your kids are swelling with pride.

If you are nowhere near any of these walks, you still have three options…
#1: Get some people together and start one (see “How to start your own walk” on CeliacWalk.org) in a new location; #2: Donate online towards the cause; or #3: Try something different: Join Team Gluten Free for any race around the country. How does it work? Read more about one family’s experience here.

Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and let everyone else take action…

As we like to say, “Celiac disease isn’t contagious, but awareness is.
Please help spread it!”

Raising Awareness with Team Gluten Free: Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom

•  •  Team Gluten Free and How it Works  •  •

One of the best parts of starting this website is all of the amazing Moms I have met online so far. Many parents have already emailed me photos of their children for the online photo album of g-free kids, and, along the way, one-on-one conversations have sprung up between a handful of Moms and me. These women all have stories to tell about their child’s diagnosis and experience, and always seem inspired to help spread the word about gluten-free issues. You can just tell that they are wonderful advocates for their gluten-free kids and outspoken ambassadors of gluten-free living — which is the best kind of Mom a g-free kid can have!

One of these Moms is Kimberly Woody (pictured here on the left.) In one of her emails, she mentioned that she ran a race for Team Gluten Free, and, after hearing about her experience, I asked if she’d be willing to share.

What she had to say:

“Team Gluten Free: It’s REALLY cool and very easy to use. Since there are very few organized races dedicated solely to raising funds for Celiac disease (I only know of Making Tracks for Celiacs) this is a great way to organize small teams within other races. (Especially if you don’t live near a Making Tracks for Celiacs annual race.)

The process is so simple. You sign up ($25) and receive a t-shirt to wear on race day. I also purchased several more for family members, spectators and my running partner. Not every participant needs to buy a shirt, though. It just looks cohesive and the bright color attracts attention — plus all proceeds from
the shirts go towards fundraising. What is even better is that once you buy the shirt you are free to register for as many races as you like, at no additional charge. You simply email them and they will reset your fundraising goal and you’re off! (As long as you still have the shirt.)

In addition, you have access to this GREAT website – you can click my personal link to see how it looks. It’s VERY simple to set up and allows for secure credit card transactions. Online you can track donations, develop/organize mailing lists, etc. I think the site looks great and required little effort on my part!
You can either organize a team or just set it up as an individual. I did not register each person, as the bulk of the fundraising was done by me.

Our first Team Gluten Free experience:

The race we ran in was the Atlanta 13.1 on October 2nd, 2011. It was an incredible day.
My daughters and their grandmother competed
in the 5-K while I ran the half marathon. During
the run I was literally answering questions the whole race. I love this because the more we talk about Celiac the more the myths and misinformation subside. The shirt is a  real conversation piece. So even though I plan to raise money in one race per year, I always wear my shirt in other races.

I think the program is TERRIFIC and would love to see more people get involved. It’s wonderful bonding for the family, good exercise, and, great for awareness — since you will be bombarded with questions. Especially when people see the little runners! I really felt like we did some good that day. It’s so easy! AND it’s a great excuse to get out there and exercise with your family!”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

• Want to learn more?     • Where does all the money go?

(From their website):
Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising program that provides a simple way for runners, walkers, cyclists and triathletes to raise awareness and funds for Celiac disease.
The money raised by Team Gluten-Free™ participants goes directly towards summer camp scholarships for children on the gluten-free diet as well as Celiac disease research, support and awareness programs. Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising arm of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation dedicated to the education of patients, families and health care professionals.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Help inspire others!  This is the first post (Thanks Kimberly!) in a new series called “Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom”, although I’d love to receive information from Dads and other supporters as well.  🙂  If you would like to submit an article and photos of how YOU spread awareness, please email me at kachalmers2@gmail.com.  It’s up to you which information you would like to be made public, and I can send a preview for you to check before I post anything online.


As we like to say,
“Celiac disease isn’t contagious,
but awareness is.
Please help spread it!”

Come back soon to learn how to get involved in Making Tracks for Celiacs. Thanks! ~Katie