Mary Bongard, Kaptain
Chronically Awesome Spoonie Platoon
Meet Mary. When asked to describe herself in eight words, she kicked off our conversation by saying “I like to take naps and watch Netflix.” Mary grew up in central Minnesota and has been slowly making her way to the Twin Cities. Today, she and her family happily call Saint Michael home.
Mary is no stranger to lupus; she was diagnosed with SLE in August 2010. But from the get-go, she’s had an incredibly supportive network she can count on when days are especially challenging:
The thing I appreciate most about my family and friends is that they are always there for me, they always make me feel cared for and supported, whether it is with a ‘how are you feeling?’ text message or an invitation to hang out in sweatpants and watch movies. My friends and family understand I have limitations and they don’t exclude me because of it. Major props to my husband who has lived with this chronically-ill diva for 10 years and lived to tell the tale!
For those who may not have as strong of a support system, whether it’s due to being new in the area, family is out of state, they’re newly diagnosed, or whatever the case may be, Mary had three pieces of advice to share:
- Don’t be ashamed of your story. Tell it and use it to inspire others.
- Find other “spoonies.” (Learn more about this term below.) Facebook groups, online bloggers, local support groups … all of them are beneficial in helping understand living with lupus.
- Force yourself to socialize, even if you don’t always feel up to it! Socializing is a great way to beat the lupus blues!
After she learned about The Great (Point)8K, Mary was one of the first to register a team and commit to this fundraiser. “It was super easy,” she said and further explained its ease and simplicity:
Nowadays with social media, it is just as easy getting the word out there to raise money and awareness of lupus. If you have been considering creating a team but aren’t sure where to start, check out the Lupus Link Minnesota website. You will be amazed at the people who will donate in support of you and your team. I have been participating in walks to support lupus awareness since 2011 and I am still amazed at the kindness of strangers. Just today our team received a $25 donation from my mom’s best friend from high school, someone I’ve never met! How cool is that? Just grab a friend and spread the word!
Mary’s team, the Chronically Awesome Spoonie Platoon, is made up of family members, friends, and co-workers … all of whom are deeply committed to spreading the word and raising awareness and funds for lupus. And Mary’s motivation to raise awareness and funds is simple. She said, “Raising funds equals more money for research, and more money for research equals better medicine and possibly finding a cure!”
Speaking of the Chronically Awesome Spoonie Platoon, we were intrigued by the name, so had to ask Mary for the story behind it. She shared its origin story like this:
“Chronically Awesome” was a blogger I started following when I was first diagnosed with lupus. “Spoonie” is paying tribute to ‘The Spoon Theory’ by Christine Miserandino (my husband actually introduced me to it after he came across it on the internet), and “Platoon” came from my friend Tishell, who’s in the Army National Reserve.”
When Mary’s not leading the charge for the Chronically Awesome Spoonie Platoon, she’s working as a medical bill collector. She spends her days trying to help people understand their medical bills (“Oh boy, do I know first hand how overwhelming those things can be!”). In her free time, she enjoys quilting, going to the movies with her daughter, Gabby, and husband, Adam; hitting up flea markets, and spending time with family and friends.
Thank you, Mary, for your dedication and commitment to the lupus cause! We look forward to seeing you and your team at Central Park in Maple Grove on Saturday, October 14.
Feeling inspired to join us for The Great (Point)8K? Register and create a team today!