Shevlin & Smiddy Families Unite to Build Community

Over the years, we’ve seen the power of lifelong friendships stoked through our local chapters. The Seattle chapter has historically been one of our notable chapters with many active families making our work possible.

One such alliance in the Seattle area is that of the Shevlin and Smiddy families. These two families have come together to host community events that make Cure JM’s crucial work possible. Their approach has been to keep it simple with a “yard sale” yet, the event has become a staple in their community and a way for JM and families and friends to stay connected year after year.

We interviewed Julie Shevlin and Sarah Smiddy to learn more about their annual yard sale fundraiser and why it’s so meaningful to them and other JM families.

Q & A With Volunteers: The Shevlin and Smiddy families

1) Tell me about your event. What exactly is it, and how can people support it? 

It’s a yard sale where 100% of proceeds goes directly to Cure JM. We collect household items from family, friends, and neighbors and set up the sale on a Thursday. The sale starts that afternoon and continues through Saturday. 

2) Why did you choose a yard sale as a fundraiser? 

It seemed like an easy, no up-front costs way of fundraising so we decided to give it a try. It was successful the very first year so we decided to do each year for over 10 years! 

3) If others are inspired to hold a yard sale fundraiser, what advice would you give them for success? 

Notify your friends to start their “spring cleaning” and save things for your sale.

  • Friends will ask for you to store their yard sale item donations ahead of time. Doing this will add a lot of time and effort to the sale, but if you have the space, then you decide what works for you. We don’t have a place to store anything prior to the sale and that has worked out for the best. We simply ask for people to drop off their items the morning of the sale. If it doesn’t work out, that is okay. We always end up with more items than we need. 

Recruit volunteers and promote the sale: 

  • The most number of volunteers are needed for a few hours for set up and tear down. 
  • A few volunteers are needed through the sale to keep things organized.
  • Ideally, choose a place with lots of drive by traffic, not too far out of the way.
  • Make lots of signs leading drivers to your big sale. 
  • Use social media prior to and during the weekend to keep people coming.
  • Ask around to borrow lots of tables and pop-up tents. 
  • Try to have a volunteer on the team that has a company match program. 


  • DON’T price items! You will raise WAY more money if you simply ask for a donation to the charity in exchange for items. Our response to “How much for this?” is “We are just here raising money for Cure JM. Whatever you want to offer is great.” 
  • We found we raise much more money this way. Often times an item might have been priced for $5 but a generous donor will give us $20 or $100! 

Plan for clean up/leftover items: 

  • If it is a big sale like ours, you will be left with a lot of leftovers. Plan ahead and arrange volunteers with trucks to load up and drop off the leftovers at a local charity. Some charities will PAY for items if you go through their donation program and set it up ahead of time (like a clothing drive). 
  • We start with new donations each year. 

4) What goals or outcomes do you hope to come out of this event? 

Our goal each year is to raise a minimum of $5,000. Most years we are closer to $10,000 with a generous company match program. 

5) What inspired the idea for this event or fundraiser? 

Our daughters Emma and Tessa had treatment for JM when they were young and are now both in remission! 

6) How has this event or fundraiser helped you or your local community feel connected to Cure JM’s mission of improving the lives of those affected by JM and/or seeking a cure? 

“We love how the local JM families come to volunteer or just say hello during the weekend. It has given our local JM community a way to stay connected at least once a year. We have grown a wide network of supporters through the sale which has helped create a bigger awareness for JM. We have had community members learn more about JM and through this even helped find and diagnose kids with JM.”

7) Why is community support/participation so important to the success of this event and/or Cure JM’s mission? 

Our community has grown to look forward to our sale each year. We have returning shoppers that watch and wait for the sale, return each year and send their friends. Having a few JM families within our community has really helped spread the word through social media and get a lot of people to attend the sale. 

8) What lasting impact do you hope to leave for the next generation of JM families through your work? 

“We hope JM families can realize that raising money for Cure JM doesn’t have to be a fancy or expensive event (we’ve done those in the past, too, so we know). We want all families to feel empowered to do something to help the JM kids coming along behind us.”

DIY Fundraising

Fundraising doesn’t have to be a daunting task…We’d like to invite our families to join us in putting the “Fun” in fundraising.

Join Cure JM

Membership is free and we’ll connect you with a network of support, encouragement, and resources.

Cure JM supports families, patients, and the juvenile myositis research community.

Interested in DIY fundraising but need help?

We’re here to help!

To have your fundraiser matched, add “DIY Match” in the memo of your online gift or check.