Reflections on the 3rd Annual Walk for Talk

Our 3rd Annual Walk for Talk took place October 20-23, 2022, to benefit Dysphonia International, formerly the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA). Walk for Talk brings hope for the future and a sense of belonging and unity. Started in 2020, this event gives people a glimpse of the impact of spasmodic dysphonia and related voice conditions through the stories shared by our community. No matter where you live or what voice condition you have, all are welcome to join our effort. By inviting friends, family, co-workers, support group communities and healthcare professionals to support you, you created fun and unifying events for people to learn about and help find answers and possibly a cure. This annual event funds research to find answers for better treatments and a greater understanding of complex voice disorders.  Walk for Talk brings hope for the future and a sense of belonging and unity.

When we first started the Walk for Talk, we were responding to the challenges of the pandemic and the fact that people were remaining separated for health reasons and that being outdoors was the safest place. So, we launched this virtual event, and as expected, individuals, couples, and small family units, along with the their dogs walked together. Last year, there were groups that felt comfortable enough to gather, illustrating how so many were missing their connection to others. The feedback we got was that being with friends and family again meant the world.

This year, there was a big shift! It was inspiring to read the dysphonia stories and see generations of people sporting our Walk for Talk swag, raising our fans, and walking behind our banner. We had more groups than ever before with 16 in-person events reaching over 350 people, plus all the individual activities. There was representation from eight countries and 42 US states and increased representation from healthcare professionals, researchers, speech-language pathology students, the broader community and first-time participants. Also, new this year was an increase in sponsorship of local events.

The efforts of our individual fundraisers are humbling. They helped to raise $116,321, which was all matched for a total of $232,642! This is even more remarkable given the economic climate we are all facing. Every dollar does make a difference and we are appreciative.

Special thanks go to our 2022 Walk for Talk Planning Committee, who brought energy and enthusiasm and built momentum which included Mary Bifaro, Chair, Dennis Kaszeta, Ron Langdon; Cathleen McCulloch, Sue Payne, Laura Rahuba, Denny Richey, and Esther Zack.

We never imagined the emotional impact so many of us would feel doing something as simple as walking! Our Dysphonia International community is energized and empowered as we worked together in pursuit of our goal. We may have a voice disorder, but our community has been talking with one loud and clear voice. Walk for Talk events connect people to the only organization that focuses on spasmodic dysphonia and related voice conditions.  Many committed dedicated support network leaders continue to develop relationships with people living with a voice disorder and those who treat them.  The call to action that defines Walk for Talk asks for people to raise awareness and funds to advance research.  Whether you walked alone or with a group, you showed up and got involved in our important effort. We will continue to repeat the message that Walk for Talk does so much good for us all.  We are in this together! Let us all continue to use the many lessons learned from Walk for Talk and do our part and keep talking to one person at a time. Every step gets us closer to a cure!

We hope you will join us for the 4th Annual Walk for Talk on October 12-15, 2023!