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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sowing Seeds for CMT Awareness

Little Free Library in my Neighborhood

"Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises" - Demothenes

I have a great project for CMT awareness month and does not involve dying your hair blue or any ice bucket challenge.

Have you ever heard of the "Little Free Library"?  There are 30,000 of them throughout the world. I did a search on their web site and there are 17 of them within 10 miles of my house.

The idea which started in Wisconsin is to build literacy.  You take a book and leave a book.

Here is how the premise is explained on their web site.

In the beginning- 2009 Todd Bol of Hudson Wisconsin built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.  He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.  Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin Madison, saw Bol's do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises.  Together they say opportunities to achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good. Each brought different skills to the effort.  They were inspired by many ideas:
  • Andrew Carnegie's support of 2,500 free public libraries at the turn of the century.
  • The heroic achievements of Miss Lucie Stearns, a librarian who brought books to nearly 1400 locations in Wisconsin through "traveling little libaries" between 1895 and 1914.
  • "Take a book, leave a book" collections in coffee chops and public places.
  • Neighborhood kiosks, Time-Banking and community gift sharing networks.
  • Grassroots empowerment movements around the world.

The goal of the founders was to bring communities together for something positive. I think we can build on their concept this month to build awareness of CMT and bring the CMT communities together.

A few months ago I took 10 copies of my book and seeded them in these "Little Free Libraries" in my neighborhood. I would often take a book along on a run or in my car and when I saw one of these, I would leave a copy of my book and take a book. I left a note with each book asking the reader if they liked the book to leave a positive review on Amazon and to pass the book on to another reader.

I am happy to say I have check on these little libraries and all of the books have been taken.

Now I'd like to ask the members of the CMT community, their family and friends to use these little libraries in their part of the world to raise CMT awareness.

My hope is you will order a copy of my book or one of the other CMT related books such as:

  • Arlene on the Scene by Carol Liu and Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone
  • Arlene the Rebel Queen by Carol Liu and Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone
  • He Walks Like a Cowboy: One Man's Journey Through Life with a Disability by Jonah Berger
Perhaps you would like to set up your own library in front of your house. You can buy a library from the web site. If you buy "The Little Free Library Book" by Margaret Aldrich, you will receive $150 to stock your library.  Check out the offer at their web site.

When I wrote my book, Running for My Life, Winning for CMT, I did not write if just for the CMT community. I wrote it to reach a wider reader audience. A runner may not pick up a book about CMT, but they will pick up one about running the Boston Marathon.

My book can be purchased through my website at 
Select the book tab. Use the HNF code and $5 from each sale will go to CMT research and programs of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation.

You can also go directly to the publisher web site at

I am hoping you will join me in this effort. If you do please post your photos of your library on facebook or send me the photos. I have set up a pinterst account to post them.

The first step toward treatments and a cure is raising awareness. What made the ALS ice bucket challenge such a success last year, it almost everyone has heard of someone with the condition. Let's do the same for CMT. Let's put faces and names to CMT. Let's start some conversations with our neighbors. People will give to our fundraising efforts when they connect the condition to their friends and neighbors.

My commitment is to seed 20 more of these libaries this month. I hope each of you reading this will commit to place a book in at least one libarary or start a library if there is not one in your city.  With 150,000 Americans affected by CMT,think of what an impact we could make.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.  

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 165 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, England and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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