In March, the last thing any of us were thinking about was community fundraisers. The very real concerns about the proliferation of the coronavirus had captured our complete attention. Who would ever have thought we’d see a year without the NCAA’s March Madness or the NBA Finals in June, or a year without a presidential election season and caravans of red and blue crisscrossing the country until that fateful November day? And yet it happened.
Amid school closures and nursing home COVID-19 outbreaks, it was hard to look far enough into the future to plan for anything, especially when even the best-laid plans seemed like dandelion seeds tossed by the stormy winds of our first modern global pandemic.
We are all fighters, aren’t we? Survivors, all of us, and some quite literally. It’s hard to tell human beings that the best thing for them to do is nothing. When something happens that impacts our daily way of life, we want to fight back, dig in and steer the situation. We all quickly learned how little we can control when life throws something like this our way, didn’t we?
By mid-April, we at the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) were slowly gaining perspective on the scope and scale of what we were facing. We were already trying our hand at a number of ways to gather and fundraise in this isolated new world.
NPF’s walks, Pstamp Outs, cycles and runs have offered people a chance to gather, commune and move forward, together, in the unified mission to support those with psoriatic disease as we strive for a cure. So how were we going to continue this vitally important mission with all the pandemic was throwing at us? If we cannot gather and we cannot be in public spaces, how do we make progress and provide support to our constituency? The not-so-easy answer quickly became clear: It was time to take things into the virtual realm.
Community Activity in Times of Isolation
One of the first real concerns, beyond the direct health impacts of the pandemic, was the mental health of our community. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) already can be isolating enough, forcing us to stay home or avoid certain activities in the best interests of our health, physically or mentally.
Creating community in a time when we cannot gather means making virtual connections, through video, photos, social networks and other ways of sharing. You and those like you are not alone, and NPF wants to keep making that abundantly clear. “During the emotional and physical stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt like letting our friends and family with psoriatic disease tangibly see our support is even more important,” says Kendra Clement of Keller, Texas, who participated in all of NPF’s virtual cycling events in the spring and our first PsA Virtual Active Day on May 23. “Honestly, it grew my network as well. I was able to ‘meet’ and connect with so many more people that aren’t in my local area. The virtual event solidified that feeling of family that we get from the NPF.”
NPF is currently making all of its events available in virtual format, and Clement says she is ready for the next slate of virtual offerings, where she can show her support for the community while staying active and healthy. “We are a big family that are connected, not just due to psoriatic disease, but connected by caring for each other,” she says. “It felt so good, that I wanted to be part of what the NPF was doing every step of the way. I still think we should do something virtually every month!”
A Pleasant Discovery
As with so many things in life, there are surprising silver linings and hidden advantages to offering virtual events, either in place of or alongside physical events. Not the least among them is the fact that you can participate and make a difference from the safety of your own neighborhood. On PsA Virtual Active Day, participants could choose what they wanted to do, how they wanted to do it and when it would be best for them to carry it out. Some rode bikes. Some took a run or went for a stroll. Others did yoga. Whatever the activity, people were moving and connecting, despite the best efforts of COVID-19 to halt all that.
“As soon as I saw the virtual active event in my chapter’s Facebook group, I registered. I have done many fundraising events over the years for other causes, but there has not been one for NPF in New Hampshire,” says Deb Shaw, who was the top fundraiser on PsA Virtual Active Day. (While NPF supports and represents all people with psoriasis and PsA, we do not currently have any events in a few states, like New Hampshire.)
“I really appreciated that it didn’t require people to have to show up and be physically active at a certain place and time,” says Shaw. “For many with arthritis this is a deal breaker, as the disease has a fickle mind of its own. I was then able to encourage my friends to go and be active in a way that worked in their lives and allowed them to feel safe.”
What Can You Do?
If all this talk of community and healthy activity has you ready to head out the door, there is no better time than the present to find a Team NPF event. Because of the virtual participation option, you don’t even have to limit yourself by location. And if you’re more into the concept of community without as much activity, an NPF virtual Pstamp Out might be more your speed, with a live and silent auction as well as a round of bingo.
All of the virtual and in-person Team NPF events, including Run, Walk, Cycle, Pstamp Out and DIY are made possible by our generous partners: