More than 30 years ago, Margaret Kleiman joined other runners for an inaugural fundraising road race. Margaret instantly knew she would like to be part of the enthusiastic staff and could make a bigger difference behind the registration table than she could behind the race's start line.
This November, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta will host the 32nd annual Associated Credit Union Strong Legs Run/Walk. More than 3,000 runners will lace up their shoes in support of the children in their community. And Margaret will be there—as she has been for the last 32 years—to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Lydia George, a Children's Program Coordinator who oversees the Associated Credit Union Strong Legs Run/Walk, said she and her team are indebted to Margaret for her extraordinary dedication.
"It's not every day that you have a volunteer like Margaret who has helped out at an event since its beginning. Margaret is a vital member of the planning committee for the race and oversees registration," Lydia says. "Registration is a huge undertaking and Margaret does a wonderful job helping runners with any questions and problems they may have. The race would not be as successful as it has been for all these years without her help."
Margaret has never been a stranger to volunteerism. Beginning in college, she found ways to volunteer wherever she lived and worked, including 40-plus years in the corporate world at companies like IBM and Northern Trust Corporations.
"Volunteering provides me with a natural high—I definitely get back more than I give," Margaret says. "Volunteering has provided me with amazing experiences and lasting friendships. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you have made a difference."
Her realization of the importance of volunteering was reinforced when Margaret served as the Senior Director of the Athletes' Village for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, overseeing a staff of 11 and more than 1,100 volunteers.
But it was that first Strong Legs Run that began a relationship between Margaret and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta which has spanned decades. That relationship is not limited to the run. Margaret volunteers her time for dozens of activities and events that benefit Children's, including Swim Across America, the Children's Strong4Life Superhero Sprint, UGA Countdown to Kickoff and the John Smoltz Celebrity-Am Golf Tournament. Whether gathering or purchasing items for auction, serving on planning committees or managing registration or organizing silent auction tables at events, Margaret estimates that she dedicates a day or two a week to Children's.
"Through the years I have also introduced many of my friends to Children's volunteering and they enthusiastically join me at a variety of activities," she says. "Like me, they keep coming back because they feel like they are valued by Children's and are delighted that they are able to contribute to the success of these fundraising activities. It is an honor and a pleasure to be a Children's volunteer."
To take her commitment even further, Margaret has made a legacy gift by naming Children's in her will. Her gift will create an endowment to recruit and retain pediatric physicians.
"I have been so impressed with the doctors I've met and their passion for finding cures and helping children that I decided I wanted to establish a program to help recruit and retain the best and the brightest," she says. "By providing support for research and clinical delivery of care, I hope my endowment program to support research, innovation and care to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow will be a difference maker in attracting talented, dedicated doctors to Children's. I see my endowment as a way to raise money for Children's for decades to come."
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta depends on the generosity of donors and volunteers to be one of the best children's hospitals in the nation. Contact Mary L. McCormack at 404-785-9481 or Cell: 706-540-2885 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can make a difference.