Cancer + Kickboxing = One First-Time Event Planner's Journey

Meet Jennie, who is ready to kick cancer away.

The other day I got a voicemail from my dear friend, Jennie. Jennie always leaves me entertaining voicemails, but this one made me smile as soon as I listened to it.

“Sar! I think I’m going to plan an event! I have no idea what I’m doing! Call me back!!”

As I listened to her explain her idea and inspiration for the event, it occurred to me just how many ‘event organizers’ are planning some really amazing events – and guess what? Most of them aren’t ‘professional’ organizers. I wanted to share Jennie’s tale with others, to show you that you don’t have to be a seasoned event veteran in order to make a difference!

Sara: Jennie, you have a high stress job! Will you explain what you do day-to-day?

Jennie: I teach elementary school by “day”. I’m in my fifth year as a third grade teacher, and I specialize in teaching reading. I’m also currently pursuing my Masters of Education.

S: So, tell me more about the event that you’re planning. What inspired you to turn this into a reality?

J: I’m planning an event called “Kickin’ It for Connor”. I’m part of a close-knit Bible Study group and Connor is the three-year-old nephew of one of our members. Recently, we learned he had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We were desperate to do something to help support Connor’s family.

I was first inspired to create this event while participating in a Saturday morning kickboxing class at the Y. Connor’s diagnosis was heavy on my heart, and as I sweat my way through this class, I began to feel empowered. Why not coordinate an event that will bring the community together to fight cancer?

We’re going to gather at the Y for one day of back-to-back, hourly fitness classes lead by volunteer instructors. The general public can pay a flat fee to come attend as many classes as they choose, or they may opt to simply work out at their own speed. The money we raise will go to supporting Connor’s family and their fight against childhood cancer. We want to show that when it comes to cancer, we are kickin’ it to the curb!

S: Wow, this is no small feat, huh? What are the hurdles you’ve encountered thus far, and how did you overcome them?

J: As an event planning “rookie”, I’ve had a variety of things to work through to create this event. I’ve had a lot of support from close friends, and I’ve had to ask many questions. On top of the logistical things, like narrowing down a date and finding a venue, we’re also being as sensitive as possible to this family’s situation, as we know the life of their child is precious and sacred. We were careful to ask permission to use Connor’s name and face to promote this event. I anticipate a variety of other roadblocks to pop along the way, but I’m confident that we will sort them out as they come.

S: What is one thing you’ve learned while planning this event? Any advice you’d offer up to another first time event-planner?

J: A wise friend once told me to “keep it simple” when planning your first event, and I’ve tried my best to keep that in mind along the way. When people hear about the event, they are excited and want to help. They often come up with a variety of wonderful ideas, and I’ve had to figure out ways to incorporate them while still keeping it simple. I’d advise anyone who is interested in planning an event to ask a lot of questions, keep a running to-do list, an organized notebook, and rely on the support and wisdom of the experts at Eventbrite.

We’re sure that “Kickin’ It For Connor” will be a huge success, and we can’t wait to hear all about it. What cause gets you inspired to create an event? Share your stories below, or on Facebook or Twitter. And if you’ll be in the Charlotte, NC, area this March, be sure to “Kick” it for Connor!