RARITAN, NJ - Every year for seven years, Raritan resident Erika Karp donated $25 to a friend walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City.
And in 2008, she decided it was time to do more.
"I was always donating, and every year I thought, maybe I should try this," Karp said. "I felt like I wasn't doing enough, donating my $25. I wanted to do more."
Karp decided to join the cause, and she signed up to participate in her first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in October 2008. Each participant is required to raise $1,800 as part of their entry into the walk.
"I figured my $25 would only go so far, but if I participated and raised a minimal $1,800, I could do more for the cause," she said.
After that first walk, Karp said, she was hooked.
"It was an amazing event, and mesmerizing walking through the New York City streets with thousands of other people, walking 39 miles in New York City," she said. "It's not the same city as when you visit for an activity. When you are walking with thousands for the cause, it's a much more meaningful experience."
In 2012, Karp said, she founded Fighting Feet, a team of at least seven people all participating in the walk each year.
"We were all residents of New Jersey, and this year we expanded to have some family members of one teammate that live in Buffalo, N.Y., and eastern Pennsylvania," she said. "We have now grown to 10 this year. We have some new faces, and every year we have a core four that stick with it."
The commitment, Karp said, is to raise $1,800 each year, with each member of the team working to do that.
"It is a huge commitment to undertake, in terms of financial, because on event day, if you don't have the money raised you have to make a commitment to the foundation to come up with the remaining amount of money," she said.
Karp said she has had a great support system, and has managed to raise at least $1,800 each year, as has every member of her team.
"We have a solid fundraising structure that we have developed," she said.
Each year, Karp said, they think outside the box to come up with new and innovative fundraising options for the team. This year, she said, they are doing a Tupperware fundraiser, where 40 percent of sales are going to the fundraising campaign.
That party, which is done online Karp said, ends July 31.
The team has had several fundraising campaigns, Karp said, including receiving 20 percent of net sales at Ruby Tuesday's and others.
Karp said the team works together to make sure they all reach the $1,800 goal. They have a team page, she said, and the money from the team fundraising campaigns goes into that joint account.
"Then in the September time period, everyone starts doing an early check in where we try to make sure everyone has the $1,800," she said. "If I achieve it with my own personal fundraising, I forego the 1/10th of the team fundraising that goes to me and give it to the person to allow someone else to use the pool of money to get to $1,800."
"We're all participating and it's all going to the same end place," she added. "It's not a contest to see who raises the most."
At this point, Karp said, the team is up to about $6,300, so they are on target to reach their collective $18,000 goal.
This year's walk will be held the weekend of Oct. 18-19, and the members of Fighting Feet are Karp and Brenda Rivera, both of Raritan; Jean Blaha, Kristen Gironda; Kelly Kline; Meredith Moran; Shannon Nash; Louisa Soto; Kathy Bassininski; and Allison Spranger.
As for the team name, Karp said she was trying to think of something generic, and something that corporations might be comfortable donating to.
"We use our feet to fight for the cause," she said. "We thought of how we could relate what we do to the cause, and we are fighting with our feet to walk those 39 miles."
Karp said she is very happy with the fact that she takes part in the walk each year.
"We're really proud of it," she said. "I feel like the impact is stronger than 10 people."
To donate through the Tupperware party, go to the Fighting Feet Party.
Follow the team on the Fighting Feet Facebook page.
Donate to Fighting Feet directly.