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History of World Breastfeeding Week

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, p. 79.

The First Annual La Leche League International Walk-Jog-Crawl-a-Thon was May 5-6, 1991. The idea came from similar events held the previous year by LLL of Southern California/Nevada, USA and LLL of Arizona, USA. Mary Renard and Janet Jendron, then members of the LLLI Board of Directors, planned and coordinated the event. LLLI received 10 percent of the money raised, Groups kept 30 percent, and a professional fundraising company received 40 percent with the remaining 20 percent going to the Divisions and Areas. Insurance was an extra fee. Group members promised to walk a mile in return for donations. One suggestion was to have a phone-a-thon party where everyone in the Group called their friends and relatives to ask for pledges. Another was to bring things for family games, such as the water balloon toss, egg toss, three legged race, and balloon stomp. Close to 300 Groups participated and raised $85,000 in pledges.

Many changes were instituted after the first event in 1991. The name changed to the World Walk for Breastfeeding and the event was run from the LLLI office, eliminating the need for an outside fundraising firm—though the Groups still kept 30 percent of the money raised. Over 500 Groups participated in every state of the USA, plus 11 other countries joined in the World Walk. August 1st was the only date Walks could be held as insurance was required for all USA Groups and that cost $10.00 per Group. T-shirts sold out. Tote bags, balloons, and thank-you postcards were also printed. The top prize was two round-trip airline tickets anywhere in the continental USA.

In 1993, Kits were mailed in late June. Over 775 Groups registered. Walkers requested sponsors to pledge an amount per ¦ mile. The years passed and more items were added to the Kit, dates became more flexible, pledging for each mile and paying for required insurance were dropped, additional items were offered for sale, and the portion that Groups received went up to 40 percent.

Fourteen years after that first event, we once again have some major changes, yet the spirit and mission remain the same—fundraising for La Leche League while spreading the word about the importance of breastfeeding. The name of the event is now LLLUSA Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week. The percentage that Groups keep has jumped to 50 percent. The kit is on the LLLUSA Web site, and each Group can download, personalize, and use what meets their needs best. People can even make donations online. A smorgasbord of past fundraising ideas are available to choose from, as well as tried and true Walk suggestions. There are two press releases and a sample "Letter to the Editor," as well as a link to a full media guide.

Need money for outreach? Need money to attend a Conference? Need money to update the Group library? Need money for postage to send LLL pamphlets and Information Sheets? It’s easy. Continue to make La Leche League history by participating in the 2004 LLLUSA Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week. For more information, visit the LLLUSA Web site at www.lllusa.org/lllusa/wbw.html.

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