My Cause Profile: Barbara Tobias
Barbara Tobias was tired of feeling helpless against her struggle with CFS. She longed for a way to be productive and to help make a difference for herself and others with the illness. Then along came My Cause—an easy, online tool she could use to create her own web page and tell friends and family members about CFS and the importance of contributing to the fight against this complex and debilitating illness.
Talk about becoming productive! In a few short weeks, with just minutes of time on her computer, Barbara has reached out to more than 39 people and raised more than $1,800. In fact, in just the first month since the Association launched My Cause, she and 140 others have created their own compelling web pages and raised over $16,000 to help CFS education, research and policy efforts.
So how does an average person with CFS and limited computer experience become an active outreach force for CFS? Here’s what Barbara has to say about the process:
Q: Barbara, you were one of the first to learn about the My Cause program and one of the first to put up your page and start raising funds. What were your thoughts when you first heard about this online way to create your own CFS web page and start spreading the word about this serious illness?
A: I was so excited to finally have a way to be productive and proactive in the fight against CFS. One of the problems with having this illness is the feeling of helplessness. It’s difficult to become involved in trying to make a difference. As a person with CFS, I find myself too exhausted to partake in many CFS functions or experiencing too much brain fog to be involved on the Internet. But My Cause allowed me to overcome these hurdles, and become proactive in fighting back.
Q: Part of the My Cause process includes sharing your page and message with friends, family and other contacts and asking for their help. What were your feelings surrounding this element of the process, and how did you approach the task?
A: At first I was apprehensive about asking for money. After more than a decade of being disabled, I surprised myself by discovering that I was afraid of finding out that some of my family and friends would not make a donation because they still might not consider CFS to be real. So I sent my first e-mails to the people I am closest to, and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. Not only did they make donations, but many sent me notes expressing how happy they were to be able to do something to show their love and support.
Bolstered by the positive responses, I have continued to expand my mailings. And each time an additional donation is made to My Cause, I am surprised at the depth of love and support I feel.
Q: What has been the greatest personal benefit of your My Cause experience?
A: For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I’m part of something. I feel productive and am energized by being able to make a difference in the fight against CFS. I hope to make this just the first step in becoming more active with the CFIDS Association and increasing my level of involvement.
I’ve also been able to see that, given the right circumstances, I can be productive. So I also hope to try to become active again with other organizations I’ve lost touch with.
Q: What tips would you offer people as they participate in My Cause?
A: Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed. The CFIDS Association has done a wonderful job in making the personalized My Cause page a breeze to set up. In no time at all you can get started.
Reach out to your friends, and don't be afraid to e-mail casual acquaintances. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised at the support and generosity of people. So stop reading this article, and go get started. I think you’ll find it to be an unbelievably positive experience.
My Cause is an exciting online tool that helps you build and manage your own web-based CFS fundraising engine. With a few clicks of the mouse, participants can create their own CFS web page and reach out to those around them to say, “CFS is my cause.”
Proceeds raised by My Cause participants go to support the CFIDS Association in its education, research and public policy initiatives. The CFIDS Association does not sell or share donor contact information with other organizations and will not contact the people who donate through My Cause unless they request it through their online donation form.