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On Saturday, May 21st , Family Matters will host its 22nd annual Walk-a-thon.

I am serving my second year on the Family Matters board, and this will be the third year that I will participate in Family Matter’s Annual Walk-a-thon event.

This is also the second year that I will be sponsoring a team named after a dog.

Last year, I honored the memory of my companion for eleven years – my Shar Pei – by forming “Team Shorty."

I encouraged many people who I know – friends, family, new acquaintances – to join my team.

Early that morning – a beautiful Spring Saturday, at around 9:00 – my group of fourteen (friends and family, including my daughter) congregated at Gale Academy, registered, put on our Walk-A-Thon T shirts, guzzled coffee, and then, promptly at 10:00, we proceeded to walk the five mile path.

To my delight, the organization puts on a knock out picnic following the walk.

(My only disappointment was that the judges somehow overlooked me and gave "Best Team" awards to other groups.)

Those of you who have aversions to these types of events must reconsider. There is something calming and immensely gratifying about turning off our cell phones, joining friends, and doing something that we rarely ever find the time to get around to actually do - find time to talk, and walk, and simply enjoy the pleasures that come with strolling along the lake front on a Saturday in Spring.

Not to mention, the good feeling we get supporting a truly wonderful organization.

Family Matters does exceptional work, focusing its efforts on the community of folks who live North of Howard Street. The organization offers after school tutoring for younger students, and it builds a community for young and older teens through its support groups, teaching the youth important life skills.

Through its 24-year history, Family Matters has impacted many lives, relying on a Principles of Leadership program developed by its founder, an amazing woman, Kim Delong. The program, which Kim, a minister, developed, focuses on utilizing peaceful conflict resolution strategies, using positive thinking and language, and learning about the power of responsible decision-making.

Kim trains all members of the Family Members community about the Principles – for they represent the core values around which this organization is built.

(I recommend this training to everyone. When my son, who was then fourteen, hit a rebellious streak, we attended Kim’s program together. The impact on us was huge and even his Mom, my ex-wife, thanked me, for she noticed the change in him.)

One thing about Family Matters that I have grown to respect is that it does not seek governmental assistance. Rather, its funding comes from foundation support and from personal gifts. Of course, with foundation giving down, the organization relies even more on the generosity of individuals, and this is the event designed to encourage contributions from individuals.

This year it is critical that we achieve our six figure goals for this event. We need hundreds of enthusiastic and generous walkers.

Walking costs only $20. This year, we encourage everyone to consider assembling a team. (Definition of team = 2 or more people.) Think about friends and family who you would like to share some time with. Call them up and ask them to join your team. Try to get 6, 8 or a dozen people together. (Use Facebook - Family Matters has a Page- and increase the size of your team.) Ask your church, a networking group, or friends from your favorite watering hole to join in. Target financial goals for your team and help out this truly wonderful Rogers Park organization. Do it!

I will be writing more about this event in future weeks. Stay tuned as I unveil the dog who will be serving as my team’s mascot – I assure you, we are a cinch to win the award: “Best Team Lead by A Dog."

Check out the website: www.familymatterschicago.org to learn more. And, let me know if you would like to join my team – lead by dog mascot who, in the weeks ahead, I will unveil on this blog