T A B L E T A L K
Giving hands do what they can
"I believe the best part of America was built by people helping people," says massage-crew organizer Scott Craig, L.M.T. "If I were a plumber or roofer, I’d be helping Habitat for Humanity build homes. This is just my particular specialty."
For the three-day ride held in March, Craig organized a crew of 14 massage therapists: four members who worked the entire ride, and 11 volunteers who worked at one or more of the three stops on the route.
The ride, which begins in Ft. Lauderdale and ends in Orlando, attracts hundreds of bicyclists who raise money through sponsorships to benefit six Florida charities. Participants range from competitive athletes to novice riders who just want to challenge themselves for a good cause. No matter what their level of expertise, after pedaling for almost 100 miles a day, these riders appreciate a massage.
"The cyclists coming in are so tired. When they see us waiting for them you can see some of the tiredness go from their faces. They take a shower and line up for massage," said Maureen Gilbert, L.M.T., communications director for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association Brevard Chapter. The chapter rallied 11 members for this year’s ride. In the past as many as 25 chapter members have come out for the event, which used to be called the Walgreen’s Red Ribbon Ride.
"I think we all love doing it because it’s fun and especially because the riders are so appreciative," said Gilbert.
At each of the ride’s three stops the massage crew set up their tables and awaited the crush of tired legs, stiff necks and aching shoulders. Craig reports 206 massages were done over the three days, on both riders and ride-crew members.
For newly licensed massage therapist Craig Silverman, serving on the massage crew was another way to get involved with a cause he believes in. Silverman completed the ride in 2000; in 2001 he worked on the camp-services crew. A recent graduate of the Florida College of Natural Health, Silverman was eager to put his massage education to work in an athletic event. "I figured it would be good experience, and it was," he said, noting that next year he’d like to ride and do massage, if possible.
"I got massage [at the ride] in 2000," he said. "It was very nice, after riding 100 miles or so for that day, taking a shower and then getting a massage; it felt very good. So I knew how it felt for [the riders] coming off the bikes."
Scott Craig anticipates that due to state funding cuts for many AIDS programs, future rides will draw more riders and will need more massage therapists. As an advocate of community service, Craig told Massage Magazine that he’d like to start a massage-volunteer committee to work more events like the Sunshine AIDS Ride.
"Many [charity-event] participants are just average people, and don’t think of themselves as athletes at, say, a walk for cancer, but they are. And heroes, too," he said. "But many of them tend to under-train and overexert. They are prime candidates for massage. The increased interest due to massage being available can attract more people and keep them coming back, benefiting the charity, as well."
8 Pointers for Organizing A Volunteer Event
1. Traffic flow must be addressed. Use a non-therapist or tired therapist to maintain a sign-up list.
8. Other professions have sports massage in their scopes of practice. Don’t forget them when seeking volunteers.