In August 2015, I started my journey of being a charity runner. Why? August 2016 marked the 5th anniversary of the passing of my dad. I wanted to run in his memory and do something vs be sad about missing him for all that time.
I knew I wanted to run both runDisney races for Star Wars – Light Side 2016 at Disneyland and Dark Side 2016 at Disney World. My dad introduced me to the world of science fiction and it seemed like a fun way to “include” him. I also knew I wanted to run for cancer research.
After researching the different organizations associated with runDisney, I zeroed in on Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. Kellsie’s story just spoke to me. It was bad enough as a “child” watching a parent go through cancer, I can’t imagine the roles being reversed.
After asking about 1000 questions, I registered to run for KHF. Now what?
My first attempt at fundraising crashed and burned. I hosted a spirit night at my local Chik-fil-a. I did everything I could – handed out flyers, shared on Facebook, texted all my friends. I even got balloons donated by the local grocery store just to dress up the restaurants. After spending my evening at Chik-fil-a, I walked away with a $50 check – and most of that was thrown in by the restaurant…more than likely out of pity. Oh, I remember being so upset.
Second place I turned was the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s have an amazing fundraising program. You can sell tickets to one game – at a price that fits your budget or you can sell vouchers to games throughout the season. I chose to sell tickets to one game.
Again, this first attempt didn’t go the way I envisioned. A group of 10 joined me on game night. At $5/ticket towards KHF, I raised $50. While bummed and really not waiting too, I moved to my third attempt.
My third attempt went better. I proceeded to share my “why” on Facebook and texting friends. I discreetly asked at work – not my employers – but my co-workers and vendors that I interacted with (yes – the mailman and UPS driver were asked). It was incredibly hard for me to ask friends and family but I did. It didn’t take long before I had hit my goal.
While fundraising for Light Side, I was also able to fundraise for Dark Side. I simply swapped out the donation links once I hit the goal of Light Side.
I did cry during both races. At Light Side, a lady came up behind me and said my dad was proud of me (I wore a sign on my back that said “I run in memory of my father” — get it?) and at Dark Side as I crossed the finish line. I truly felt like Dad was with me – as weird as that sounds.
Further down the rabbit hole of fundraising I went. I was more confident with my “why” and ask. I was more comfortable with “no”. I registered to run Wine and Dine 2016 with Kellsie’s Hope.
This time around, I knew I could NOT ask friends and family to support me. I started looking for other ways to raise my goal.
It was at this time, I discovered the volunteering in exchange for volunteering. My best friend was stationed in Virginia and while here, she was determined to run a half in the “local” area. She signed up for a half marathon in Delaware and asked me to join her. I wasn’t trained to run but I did tell her I would volunteer and join her that way. When I went to sign up, I discovered the race management would reward volunteers with either 1. a free race entry or 2. a donation to the cause of their choice. Guess which one I picked?
After discovering this little fact, I started looking at races I had on my schedule. I discovered 2 of them would make a donation if you organized a group to volunteer. I immediately reached out for more information and started talking to my runner friends. I managed to organize 2 groups of 10 (one for each race, with a little crossover) and received donations from both events.
Since I was still away from my goal, I turned again to the Orioles. I picked another game with a giveaway and started selling tickets. This time around, I managed to sell about 25 tickets (yey!) and raised $125!
Towards the end of the summer, a runner friend who is a teacher by weekday (and an amazing runner by weekend) started telling me about hosting an exchange student for the school year. She is a runDisney runner and completely Dopey and was planning her trip for 2017. She wanted her student to participate too but of course, the 5k bibs were sold out. I registered once again for KHF and told them I was raising money so her student could run. I worked a couple races in exchange for donations and boom – a truly awesome first trip to the States was made even better with a first trip to Disney World and a first 5k.
Still with me?
That brings us to the current year – 2017. This year, I decided “just because” to be a fundraiser for KHF. I signed up to raise $1000.
After plotting my plan of attack, I went to work. I started with the Orioles. This time I went with vouchers. Once I posted to social media, another runner friend stepped up and talked me into organizing a game day for his child’s school. Together, between vouchers and game day tickets, we hit my goal of $1000 in no time.
Around this time, my best friend told me she wanted to come to Princess 2018. We decided the best way to secure a bib would be charity. She is active military so if she can’t go, she isn’t out of any money. At the time, she was pre-deployment so I took care of securing her spot. Since she was going to deploy at anytime, I took on her commitment of $1400 (she’s a little crazy and doing all 22.4 miles at Princess).
With 2 fundraising campaigns going on at one time, I was admittedly, a little overwhelmed. I decided to focus on my O’s fundraiser until it’s conclusion and then turned my attention to her.
I worked 4 races and organized 1 volunteer group to secure the bulk of her donations. I also reached out to some of her family to ask for donations as well. Lastly, a few of my family members who hadn’t donated to my initial $1000 for 2017 donated to her page.
To date, I have raised over $6,000 for Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. I have had the opportunity to run almost all the runDisney events (still need Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, Castaway Cay and Disneyland Paris) and made some great friends along the way. I have also raised a lot of money for a great cause in memory of my Dad – who I am sure is scratching his head saying ” My kid doesn’t run.”
I can’t say it’s been perfect or pretty. I can’t say I haven’t gotten mad at myself for taking on so much. I can’t say I haven’t yelled or cried depending on the moment or the mood.
I will say it is all about attitude and believing in your “why” and the cause. If you don’t have those things, you are not going to succeed. Same goes for running. If either were easy, everyone would do it.
Just for fun, I am $100 away from hitting $2,000 (remember, the original goal was $1,000?). Would love to hit that goal and if you would like to donate, please go here!
Disclaimer: in the past 2 years, I have also raised money for Children’s Miracle Network, Special Olympics of Maryland, Avon’s Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Children’s Tumor Foundation.