Sunday, October 4, 2009 was Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals in NYC. This was my first time attending and the first time I ever attempted fundraising. My husband and I registered and created a fundraising page on Firstgiving. We named our team “Farm Angels” and used the logo of angel’s wings. We set a goal of $500 and thought we would be lucky if we raised a small fraction of that money. Several times a day, I reposted my plea on Facebook asking people to sponsor us. I put a gadget on this blog and emailed requests to co-workers and friends. Lastly, I posted about the walk on the Weight Watchers discussion board (the last time I did that, WW pulled my post).
Although the day started out rainy and muggy, it soon became a beautiful sunny day. When we got to the Merchant’s Gate at Columbus Circle, we could already hear the enthusiastic crowd. Lines of people were registering and mingling. Volunteers (many of my friends from vegan Meetups) were helping to register people and giving out really cool t-shirts designed specifically for the event. After a welcome address by Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur, the walk commenced.
Hundreds of people with signs and Farm Sanctuary leaflets walked for over 90 minutes up Central Park West and back through the park. It was an interesting experience. People, New Yorkers and tourists alike, gawked at the crowd of walkers trying to read our shirts and see what our group was representing. Some people smiled and graciously accepted leaflets and flyers about compassionate eating. Others rolled their eyes or shook their heads as we walked by, showing us clear disdain. One group of people sitting on a park bench really stood out to me. As we walked by (just walked, mind you, no chanting, no protesting, just walking), one of the women in the group rolled her eyes and said with exasperation, “Oh, come on!” When offered a pamphlet, another woman actually snatched it from the walker’s hand and said in a vicious tone, “Give me it. Here’s what I think” and forcibly threw it in the garbage can. The walker took it back out of the trash and kept walking. What a forceful reaction to our just walking by! It’s amazing to think anyone could find something wrong with people striving for compassion. What that nasty woman didn’t realize was that the walker who handed her the pamphlet was CNN anchor and author, Jane Velez-Mitchell. I wonder if it would have made a difference had she known that.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, the CNN news anchor, took the stage with her 3 rescued dogs and spoke about her vegan journey as well as her journey to sobriety. Jane was selling her new book, “I Want: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life”. I made sure to get an autographed copy for myself and I can’t wait to read it.
There was a surprise visit from Terence Gerchberg who competed on The Amazing Race last season. Gerchberg was a vegetarian who faced a challenge to eat meat for money. Today Terence is a vegan who says if ever faced with such a challenge again, he would never go against his ethics and values. Inspiring!