As the development associate for the ALS Association of East Tennessee for Care Services, which fights Lou Gehrig's disease, Monika Hancock is the organizer of its benefit, The Christmas Crawl: A Holiday Downtown Pub Crawl on Dec. 13. The crawl leaves from Sapphire A Modern Bar and Restaurant at 7 p.m.
How'd the pub crawl idea occur?
Kelly with Absher Social & Event Planning is a great friend. He and I brainstormed to do one final event this year to help the Tennessee ALS Chapter meet our $700,000 statewide budget.
How'd you get involved with ALS?
Actually, I'd been involved with non-profits, like March of Dimes, since 1999. I went out on my own as an insurance entrepreneur in 2007, but it just wasn't me—it wasn't where my heart was at. When this job opened, I interviewed and got it.
Is Lou Gehrig's disease a personal cause for you?
It's a professional job that has turned very personal. You tend to get very close with the people who have Lou Gehrig's and their families. It's devastating—there's no cure, and it's a death sentence within two years. My first introduction was at the staff meeting in Texas, where the speaker was a 32-year-old man who had just learned he had Lou Gehrig's, and was there with his young family, knowing he now had very little time to live. Just in the short time I've been here, since this past February, 10 or 15 people we've served have passed. They had all become friends; you get so attached to them and their families. There's not a lot of awareness about the disease—I want to do my job well so we can let more people know what it's all about, and find a cure.
How will the money raised be used?
Mostly for ALS care services. Not a lot of people with Lou Gehrig's have the insurance or the means to buy walkers or wheel chairs or vans as the disease progresses, most of our budget goes to the nitty gritty care service expenses. We also have support groups, and a portion does go to research.
On a lighter note, what kind of beverages are we talking for the Christmas Crawl?
Each stop has something different but of course peeps can order what they want
Do you need sturdy shoes to "crawl"?
Depends on how hard you crawl. Seriously, it all depends on the person, I am comfortable in my heels so whatever is comfortable is what people should wear.
Are you going to dress in holiday attire?
Yes, I am deciding between two outfits. I'll either go with my white pantsuit, red boots, and Santa hat, or maybe my white fur vest, black tights, and candy cane stockings and Santa hat—it depends on my mood.
Will anyone wear an ugly Christmas sweater?
We certainly hope people put on their sense of humor, but I really don't know. We are really encouraging the Santa hats though—I want our group to really stand out while we're crawling, having a good time, and raising money and awareness.
Pub crawl tickets, $10 in advance and $15 at the door, include discounted drinks and discounts at downtown retailers Dec. 14. To pre-purchase and register: