Monday, April 13, 2009

Love At First Billboard...

Today's post is an interview with Kerin Nadler, a member of YAI's Brighter Futures Society.

CPC: How did you first get involved with the Central Park Challenge?
KN: One Wednesday morning, last spring, I was walking up Tenth Avenue from Equinox in Chelsea to my old office on 57th and Broadway. I wasn’t preoccupied with a phone or iPod, so I was really paying attention to things. And on my walk, I saw a billboard with an adorable little boy with eyeglasses. [CPC: Those billboards are graciously donated by our good friends at Clear Channel Outdoor!] Kids with eyeglasses make me melt! And then I read, "Central Park Challenge, Run. Walk. Play." I LOVED that the word “Play” was incorporated. I had no idea what YAI was, but I took down the e-mail address.

I e-mailed YAI when I got to my office and said, “I have no idea what you do or what this event is, but I want to help out.” Shortly after, I got an e-mail from YAI’s volunteer coordinator. The rest is history….

CPC: What is your favorite thing about the Central Park Challenge?
KN: I’ve only been to one Central Park Challenge, but I can’t wait for this year's and every one that follows. The energy, the smiles and the camaraderie are overwhelmingly beautiful.

CPC: What has been the most inspiring aspect of fundraising for YAI?
KN: The fundraisers that I’ve helped YAI with so far are the Brighter Futures Society Camp Scholarships and The Royale, which is the Brighter Futures Society's charity event this year. It’s surprising to me that no matter how many caterers I call and no matter how many people I ask for donations, I cannot help but ooze with passion for this organization.

I have truly loved every single second of working with YAI. I remember sitting at my first Brighter Futures Society meeting feeling exciting and ready to be a go-getter. I sat at that meeting thinking, “YES! YES! YES!” It set the standards quite high for everything else that I choose to give my time too.

Every single YAI employee that I have been fortunate enough to meet has been an absolute pleasure. They’re kind, altruistic, silly and each and every one has a heart of gold.

And the people with disabilities who are served by YAI are full of life and enthusiasm. You can’t help wanting to do anything you can for them. They appreciate YAI so much. It feels great to be just a tiny fraction of what brings them this satisfaction.

CPC: What's your favorite memory from attending the Central Park Challenge?
KN: I was dog-sitting my parents’ puppy the weekend of Central Park Challenge. I got permission from YAI to bring him along. Mojo the Puppy was only a few months old and was very very shy. He would hide behind me whenever he saw a stranger.

When I was done with registration that morning, Mojo and I walked around to see everything else that was going on. A person with a disability was sitting on a bench and asked us to come toward her so she could pet Mojo. We sat with her for about an hour. Mojo sat on her lap and didn’t move. It was the first stranger he ever felt comfortable being with. The woman and Mojo found so much comfort in each other and she had me take so many pictures of the two of them. She kept on telling me that Mojo was her best friend and she started to sing a song to him. “Pride and joy, pride and joy, my baby boy.”

CPC: What message do you have for other young professionals who might be considering getting involved with YAI for the first time?
KN: Is the above not enough?! Get involved! Jump in with two feet. There is no need to hesitate this decision. You will be welcomed with open arms and you will be applauded for anything you do – nothing is too small! Every contribution is much appreciated. You can’t help falling in love with YAI.

To join the Brighter Futures Society, a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting the mission of YAI, please contact Dario Mallerman at 212-273-6588 or dario.mallerman@yai.org.

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