Becky Hall readily admits she’s not very good at racing her bike. Staying upright in the middle of the peloton is her version of victory as a collegiate cyclist.
She leads the pack, though, as an organizer and fundraiser, and her efforts to generate $50,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society – Wisconsin Chapter earned her a different kind of championship: the Philanthropic Youth of Today award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Southeastern Wisconsin.
She won by being tireless, passionate and motivated.
Over the past two years, the 22-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison organized a soccer program at her alma matter, Hartland Arrowhead High School, a fundraising night at the Nitty Gritty Restaurant in Madison, 5K runs in Hartland and Madison and a campaign that won $6,000 in grants through the Pespi Refresh Project; all to raise money for MS research and treatment.
The political science major also served as marketing director of the UW Cycling team and helped the club host the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
“I don’t sleep as much as I should,” Hall said. after receiving the philanthropy award. “It is a difficult balance, but I found the things that I love doing, and I’m never able to let go of any of them.”
Hall has been committed to cycling and raising money for more than a decade. She volunteered for the MS Society’s Best Dam Bike Ride in 2001, shortly after her mother, Jane, was diagnosed with the disabling disease. She biked the 150-mile ride in 2003 and every year after.
“My temporary exhaustion can’t compare to my mom’s constant fatigue,” Hall said. “I tend to forget the daily battle my mom endures because she masks it well; she won’t complain about her numb legs or tingly arms.”
From those first MS rides, Hall built on her passions for cycling and raising money. The $300 raised in the first MS ride grew into a goal to raise $10,000, in memory of a family friend, Charlie Siewert, who died of MS in 2010. She blew past that goal, and reached $50,000 in roughly two years.
While working toward graduation in the spring, Hall continues to plan and organize. She meets every week with a group setting up the 5K runs to erase MS in Hartland and Madison in the Spring, and the other events throughout the year. She’s focused not on $10,000, but the 10,000 people in Wisconsin diagnosed with MS, especially her mom.
“One of the most difficult things in dealing with MS is you can’t control it,” Hall said. “There is very little I can do to make sure my Mom doesn’t get worse. This fundraising and organizing gives me some control, something concrete that I can do.”