Joseph Maley Foundation Program Associate Audrey Wiest is back for her second Run, Walk, Roll. She shares her thoughts about the event as a staff member, as well as her unique journey to the Foundation.
You have a very unique story about how you came to be involved with the Joseph Maley Foundation. Tells us about that and what JMF means to you now?
My first introduction to the Joseph Maley Foundation was through an unusual Saturday morning shift at my college job. While serving breakfast, I met Vivian and John Maley and their son Gino. Throughout the course of the meal I asked questions, they asked questions, and without knowing who they were or what they did, I confessed that I was interested in nonprofit work. Vivian ended up handing me her business card and we connected later. Eventually I was offered an internship in Indianapolis, which was a daunting offer in and of itself simply because I lived a state away and had never even considered the possibility of an out-of-state internship so early on in my college career. However, I knew it was something that I needed to at least try, and so I ended up spending the next summer (and the following) interning at the Joseph Maley Foundation. Now, as a full-time Program Associate, I assist with the implementation of the disABILITY Awareness and HOPE programs.
The Joseph Maley Foundation means more to me than I can say. It means acceptance and love, unrelenting and unfiltered kindness, and resilience. It has been a source of much happiness and hope for me, and it has introduced me to some of the best people I have ever had the joy of meeting. JMF has shown me a new way of approaching life and love, and I don’t know if I can ever repay that gift.
What’s your favorite part of the Run, Walk, Roll?
My favorite part of the Run, Walk, Roll is the set-up. There are so many moving pieces and things that need to be done; yet everyone is in a terrific mood, despite the early morning hours. There’s coffee, conversation, and cart races (on my end at least), and every year I’ve been astounded by the amount of dedication and love that is put into this one event. It’s like a holiday, and a very good one at that.
Volunteers arrive at Michael A. Carroll Stadium around 5:45 AM on the morning of the Run, Walk, Roll. What are your thoughts on the early hours?
This event is absolutely worth waking up so early to set up. It’s humbling to see the work that everyone puts in when half of the world is still sleeping. There will be 10-15 cars lined up to help unload supplies and tables and tents and chair. There will always be people to meet and people to befriend. No one is in a bad mood and it’s an atmosphere and a morning that I have very little to compare to, simply because it is such a unique experience.
Fondest memory of the Run, Walk, Roll?
Fondest memory for me would be when I beat Gino Maley in a cart race. And yes, I have photo evidence.
Who’s the MVP of the Run, Walk, Roll set up?
I would say the MVP of set-up would be the person who picks up coffee for everyone else in the morning. I’m not so sure everyone would be as jubilant as they usually are that morning without the coffee pick-up gal/guy coming to the rescue.
How do you think the Run, Walk Roll serves as an embodiment of the Joseph Maley Foundation’s mission, “serving children of all abilities”?
I absolutely think that this event serves as an embodiment of our mission. The Run, Walk, Roll shows just how deeply the Joseph Maley Foundation cares about inclusion and support for all. It obviously serves as a fundraiser for the Foundation’s needs so that we can serve even more children, but it also allows for and encourages the participation of all, no questions asked. The entire event is so filled with love and acceptance that it’s hard to see how it could not be an embodiment of JMF’s mission and core beliefs.
What are your least and most favorite parts about preparing for the Run, Walk, Roll?
Least favorite part for me would probably be the tear-down. Mainly because it’s MUCH hotter by the time we need to start loading the cars back up, and I am much more tired than I had initially been at the start of the day. My favorite part, however, would be the drive to the track in the morning. It’s still dark out, but the highway is practically empty, and there’s a feeling of excitement and the realization that all the work everyone has been doing to prepare for this event is finally about to culminate into something amazing. It’s a surreal and peaceful bit of time before everything starts getting a little more hectic that I cherish every year.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you. To the Joseph Maley Foundation, and everyone who helps to ensure the Foundation can continue to do what it needs and loves to do, thank you.
Loyola University Chicago
Joseph Maley Foundation Board of Directors