Walk in the Parks at Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America: A report from this year's Cure Kids Cancer benefit event.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:54 PM
On Saturday, June 27th, I took part in Six Flags Great America’s Walk in the Park Event. This event was set up by Six Flags Friends, the park chain’s philanthropic arm, and Cure Kids Cancer, an organization that helps raise money for pediatric cancer centers in the United States.

Their goal was to raise $350, 00 in total at twelve participating parks across the US. However, after the first two parks had their Walk in the Parks Event, the goal was changed to $250,000 which they now currently have surpassed, with St. Louis coming up in about a month.

I took part in this event last year so I was very interested in seeing how they could improve on the event at SFGA with its numbers, amount raised, and the event itself. For its inaugural year, Walk in the Parks had a bit of problems getting individuals to participate in the event due to their being very little publicity or media for this wonderful event. This changed drastically with going from around 60 in 2008 to about 400 at SFGA for the 2nd annual event.

We had to get there around 7am in which we signed in, got our shirts, and turned in our cash/check amounts. During this time, we could pick up our voucher for a free ticket if we rose over $50 and the opportunity to buy raffle tickets for various prizes. We were directed to New Orleans area where we were treated to free orange juice, coffee, and danishes. They also allowed us to buy items in which 15% went to Children’s Memorial Hospital, the pediatric cancer center that our donations were going to help.

Soon, we had to come back to the front of the park to start the walk. Before it began, Aidan Stotz and his family welcomed and told all of us what it means to Aidan and his family. Aidan was our park ambassador and was a 7 year old child who was being treated at Children’s Memorial Hospital for neuroblastoma. I was very impressed that he prepared his very own speech which he read to all of us. The walk then began and we walked around the park about 1.5 times. Six Flags Great America is a pretty large park being a little bit bigger than the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

The walk ended in Hurricane Harbor in which there was water, games for children to play, and the closing ceremonies. The individual who came in first place with the most money raised was a 7 year old girl named Hannah Durante. She really kicked all of us adult’s butts with raising over $4000. She even asked Oprah, who lives in Chicago, to be on her team. Oprah could not be on her team, but matched Hannah’s current amount raised. Go check out Hannah’s page and see the message that Oprah left for her!

While the event was for a fantastic cause, Six Flags Great America appeared to be extremely disorganized and not prepared to handle the 400 or so participants. Instead of handing out the goodie bags at the registration table like they did last year, they were supposed to pass out our bags at the end of the walk. However, they did not either order enough bags or did not watch to make sure only one person took one bag.

Because of this, nobody on my team got this bag which ended up being a reusable tote bag. We were not the last group either, but rather in the center of the walking crowd. Not to complain too much, but we did pay $15 to take part in this event and were promised a shirt and bag, but because of Great America’s disorganization, at least half of the people doing the walk did not get the nice little “parting gift”. The registration fee was to cover the costs of the walk and not go to Kids Cure Cancer. Also, it appears that most people did not know there was any raffle or how to buy raffle tickets which was a little tricky if you didn’t do the event last year. We had to get the tickets at the registration area and then pay for them at Guest Relations in the park. Because of this, only a few people bought tickets and individuals, including myself ended up winning multiple prizes. It’s great that Great America got more participants, but it seems that they need to organize it better next year which, I hope they do it again.

All in all, the event was a lot of fun and was for a really great cause. Great America easily made their goal of $15,000 with over $23,000 right now. If they have a 3rd annual Walk in the Parks, which I am going to guess they will, I highly recommend all you theme park fans out there to rush to your local Six Flags park and take part in this fantastic cause to help Cure Kids Cancer find cures to make a child’s life after they learn they have cancer as easy as a “Walk in the Park”

From James Rao
Posted June 29, 2009 at 2:55 AM
Thanks for the update on the event, Anthony. Glad you had a good time despite the usual Six Flags customer service faux pas.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:33 AM
I also forgot to put a link if anybody was interested in doing it at St. Louis or just checking the site. Its walkintheparks.org

From Eli Katzman
Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:58 AM
Anthony, did you donate? And how do you put in a picture?

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:34 AM
I raised $555 from family and friends.

I got the picture in due to Robert Niles placing it under trip report instead of the Blog Flume where I submitted it. Its fine, people can read if they choose, but its probably the most opinionated story I wrote due to my personal opinions on how it ran. Thus, a trip report.

Once again, I am not so disgusted that I will never do it again since its really for the kids with the cancer (which many where there). Its just Six Flags falling into the stereotype that they come unprepared.

For all of us theme park nuts out there, this is probably the perfect thing for us! Theme Parks and helping kids with cancer. What could be better?

I know Disney does a ton of service stuff, but do they have an event similar to this? I can't say I can think of one!

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