Madison “Walk for a Cure” event helped by local squadron
Madison, Wis. – It is a yearly challenge for the Western Wisconsin Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF): how to recruit volunteers to safely route thousands of participants who turn out for the yearly Walk for a Cure in Madison, Wis.
JDRF walk organizers have found members of Civil Air Patrol’s Madison 153rd Composite Squadron have the skills, teamwork and enthusiasm essential to fill this need.
In 2011, members of the squadron responded to JDRF’s lasts minute request. Event planners had expected parking lot construction to be completed by the day of the walk and discovered only weeks before it would not be the case. CAP members mobilized to route drivers through the maze of construction barrels to the areas of the parking lot that were usable.
This year, JDRF walk organizers actively reached out again to the squadron to ask for help with the 2012 Walk for a Cure event held September 23 at the Madison Mallard’s Duck Pond. Twelve of the squadron’s 47 members turned out for the Sunday volunteer shift.
For Major Dave Vriezen, commander of the 153rd, this was an opportunity to actively use CAP emergency services skills and promote teamwork. He assessed a map of the walk and as members arrived four teams were formed. Each team was given a station at a critical location along the walk’s route.
The squadron’s safety officer, Senior Member Shane Baker, conducted a safety briefing before the four teams deployed. Uniforms were inspected, canteens were filled, radios were tested and the team locations marked on a map of the walk route.
The 2012 walk originated and ended at the Madison Mallard’s Duck Pond, a minor league baseball stadium. The 2-1/2 mile walk was well marked with signs, but traversed multiple parking lots, park paths, grassy strips and city street sidewalks.
Easily recognizable in their battle dress uniforms with bright green and orange safety vests, CAP volunteers oversaw orderly and safe passage at key transition points, ready with radios to lend assistance if needed.
Major Vriezen drove the CAP van along streets adjacent to the walk route, monitoring his four teams and using his photographic skills to record the event. When it appeared there were no more walkers crossing the finish line, he verified the information with the teams. “We made sure no one is left behind” he stated, before calling in his last two teams.
The successful mission was appreciated by event organizers and participants. “JDRF staff and walkers were grateful for the support and for [CAP volunteers] ensuring the safety of over 2000 walkers” noted Elizabeth Meland, special events coordinator for the Madison office of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.