CarolAnn Garratt has some simple advice for anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to raising money for ALS research.
“Don't make it a chore for yourself,” she says “Make it something that you would do anyway. Find something that you enjoy doing and find a way to raise donations around that.”
For most people, this could mean raising money around a bike race for a big cyclist, a marathon for a runner, or even selling cookies and cakes for an avid baker. But CarolAnn’s hobbies lead her to something a little more adventurous: She flew a small, single-engine plane around the entire planet. Three different times.
Along the way she met people living with ALS around the world, set a world record, and raised over half a million dollars to support the ALS Therapy Development Institute’s (ALS TDI) mission to find effective treatments for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The first seeds of CarolAnn’s journey around the world were planted in 2002, when her mother passed away from ALS. Before she passed, CarolAnn’s mother had said that any donations in her memory should go to ALS research so that, someday, no-one would have to watch their loved ones suffer from the disease again.
In 2003, CarolAnn embarked on her first big flight. Flying had been a longtime passion and, following her Mother’s passing, she decided to fly with her father to visit his sister – who he had not seen since before World War II – in New Zealand. She decided that since she was already flying halfway around the world, she might as well make one big trip around the globe… and then the idea hit to use her trip to do good for others and honor her mother’s memory.
“I thought, well, might as well make some good come of this,” she says. “Let's see if I can visit people with ALS and ALS associations in different countries and write about it on a website and raise some money for ALS.”
CarolAnn spent seven months travelling the globe and visited over 25 countries, meeting many people living with ALS and others looking to help raise awareness and fight the disease, while blogging about it on her website. After returning, she continued to travel and give presentations about her voyage, and then later wrote a book about it. All in all, her first trip raised about $80,000 to support ALS TDI’s research.
A few years later, she caught the itch to fly around the world again. This second trip would be different, however. Whereas on her earlier trip she took her time, meeting people and raising awareness along the way, this time would be all about speed: CarolAnn, along with a co-pilot, Carol Foy, who had a cousin with ALS, would make-an-attempt to break the world record for the fastest flight around the world.
After 18 months of planning and preparation, they began a flight that would circle the globe in only eight days, 12 hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds, setting a record for a westbound flight by a plane in their weight-class that still stands today. Another book followed, and more speeches, and plenty of fundraising. When all was said and done, her fundraising total reached more than $300,000 for both trips.
In 2011, CarolAnn undertook a third trip around the world, this time more similar to her first voyage – taking her time to stop along the way and raise awareness about ALS. This time she journeyed eastbound, charting a different course and visiting new countries and people. After returning, she wrote a third book. She continued to travel and raise money, spending many of her summers in the years after flying around the country, giving presentation to local flying clubs and selling her books. Nearly a decade after her last flight, her fundraising total is over $500,000, and still rising.
To read more about CarolAnn’s adventures you can visit her website at alsworldflight.com. To purchase the books documenting her trips around the world, for yourself, for a friend, or for anyone interested in flying or supporting ALS, click here. 100% of the sales of all CarolAnn's books go to funding ALS research.