Today’s guest post comes from Nina Rose, a Chicago mom who has spent the last several months taking an idea and turning into reality by organizing Speak to Me: A Pole Benefit For Autism, taking place on Saturday, April 11, 2015. She wrote to us to shed some light on what she learned along the way:
One day, back in 2014, I wondered if there was a way to fuse these worlds together. “After all,” I thought, “People have pole benefits for breast cancer and sexual assault victims…. Why not autism?”
That fleeting thought from back in September 2014 has taken on a life of its own and is now becoming what promises to be a formidable fundraising event for Autism.
How It Took Shape
In October 2014, I began putting feelers out on social media to determine a level of public and performer interest, started researching what all was entailed when hosting a pole event, and weighing the pros and cons. Was this feasible? If no one signs up or attends, could I afford to take the sole financial responsibility of event hosting costs? What if no organization wants to partner with the event due to its nature? I had to really dig deep and honestly answer these, as well as other questions.
After seriously contemplating the various angles and commitment entailed with hosting a not-for-profit event, I decided to go for it. The pole community is so loving and supportive. Performers are always looking for opportunities to dance and share their talents. Creating an event such as Speak to Me seemed to be the perfect solution.
Prior to this event, the only major event I had planned was my wedding. However, major event planning, no matter what it is, requires the same skill set: research, planning, organization, and persistence. Know what you’re getting yourself in to. Determine your must haves and what you’re willing to compromise on. Keep your information organized and updated. Be aware of your costs and limitations. Spreadsheets are your best friend.
Managing the Logistics
Finding a venue was the most difficult planning task. In order to insure a pole event, there are certain guidelines and limitations in regards to choice of venue. I had to find a place that did not have a bar in the room of which the event was taking place, I had to ensure a system that guaranteed no performer consumption of alcohol prior to performing, I could not take any money for liquor sales, and it all had to be within a reasonable price range and desired location.
This was extremely difficult. Without a venue, you can’t have an event. Had a friend not suggested the location where we are having the event at, Speak to Me would still be just an idea.
Emotionally, the most difficult and exciting part is not knowing. You can have an idea as to what will happen, how things will happen, numbers, etc, but you will never truly know until it starts to happen.
When I officially announced the event in November 2014, I was scared, excited, dedicated, and hopeful. I wanted to provide an opportunity for performers to showcase their talents, for my friends and family to experience this fantastic world I rave about, and to give to a cause so near and dear to my heart.
Initially, I was hoping and praying to get twenty performers. At the time of writing this article, the event has 27 performers featuring international competitors, national and regional champions, burlesque show producers, and even a media favorite who has been on television. The event is officially sponsored by Bad Kitty and has received raffle prize donations from Mika Yoga Wear and other local establishments.
Every day I am completely floored by the generosity of others, the sharing of their connection to Autism, and the exciting life this event has taken on. It’s still processing in my brain that this is REALLY happening. People are going to perform. People are going to buy tickets. People are going to come, laugh, and enjoy themselves all for the benefit of Autism. That is simply astounding. It truly shows that with passion, motivation is there and anything is possible. Ideas can and do become reality. All they need to do is speak to me, so I can be their voice.
Nina is a resident of a south suburb of Chicago. She is the mama of two au-some kids, special education advocate extraordinaire, lover of the pole world, and all-around nice lady (there’s a trophy to prove it!). Her life’s purpose is to serve others in whatever way possible and have a damn good time while she’s at it. If you are interested in attending or donating to Speak to Me: A Pole Benefit for Autism, check out the website at http://speaktomeforautism.weebly.com/