Fundraising: Kellsie’s Hope Foundation

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.


Race Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon

My favorite!

Dust off that tiara and get ready for a magical 13.1 throughout Walt Disney World… come with me!

As you know by now, expo started Thursday before the race. I had the first flight out and somehow made it to expo by 10:30am. 

Tip: always just leave your luggage with bell services – this way you can just hop the bus to expo!

I was prepared for a HUGE line – complete with building wrapping (it happens) however I was able to just walk through the doors and into the building to pick up my bib.

After getting my bib, I picked up my volunteer credientials for the 5k and 10k and then decided to head to Disney Springs. My shirt would be waiting for me when I came back.

Once at Disney Springs, I used my bib to take advantage of runner promos and freebies. Score!

I also picked up lunch, dinner and a super tasty cupcake from Sprinkles to enjoy on my birthday (which was the next day).

I then headed back to expo. I had a vendor shift with Endure Jewelry until close and wanted to make sure I was done expo before I had to work.

This time there wasn’t a line to get into Josten’s Center. I was just able to walk in.

After receiving my shirt, I did a quick walk through of the official merch. Even though it was after 12 on the first day, I was pleasantly surprised with how much was still available AND cast members were restocking! 

Coming out of the merchandise area, I noticed a fancy food booth where you could get champagne and accompaniments. I also saw:

How cool! You could get your Disney nails done right there are expo! If I didn’t have to work, I would have loved to have gotten a mani and sipped on some champagne!

Fast forward to 9pm or so…

Finally back in the room! After checking out day 1’s haul, it was time for bed!

Friday morning was a tad chilly. I was a volunteer that morning and tried to perk up the runners as they went by me at o’ dark thirty! I amused myself at least!

Saturday morning was a little better. I was a screaming fan for the 10k. Though I didn’t so much screaming, I did do a lot of cowbell…and waving! I must say volunteering is kinda awesome. I think my two favorite costumes of the 10k were: Taco Belle (hahahaha get it?!?!) and Moana’s chicken!

Sunday morning — race day! Well kinda…

So fun story – I set 3 alarms. Guess which alarm woke me up? Oh you know the one that goes off everyday at 5:30!

Tip: always schedule a wake up call!!!

After a brief panic attack and lots of unDisney language, I was dressed and out the door.

Four modes of transportation, lots of tears, and embarrassment later, I was FINALLY at the staging area. As I was getting closer, I heard the fireworks for the last corral go off…….

I went directly to the runDisney info table and confirmed I heard the last corral start. I then explained what happened. After a round of it can happen to anyone (which you don’t want to hear at that moment), I asked if I could please have my medal. The runDisney staffer said he needed to check. He came back a few minutes later and I burst into sobs (again)! I thanked him over and over and then headed back for my bus.

Once on the bus, I noticed there were 2 others with me. They had medical issues. I told them they had been faster than I was and congratulated them. 

At this point, there was nothing else to do but learn from a horrible morning and try to make the best of it. 

In hindsight, it was probably good I didn’t race. My feet were so swollen my shoes didn’t fit properly and once I got home, I was a fevery mess.

Any race day horror stories out there??

DIY: Princess Leia running costume

With the passing of Carrie Fisher, I decided the best way to honor her memory was to run the Star Wars Light Side 10k as Princess Leia.

I’ve never run in a full costume – always something running inspired. I quickly put together an idea and started making it happen.

I always find Disneyland races to feel cooler on race morning so I knew I would want to run in a t-shirt instead of my usual tank. I used Etsy to find a cute Leia running saying – “my only hope is to cross the finish line” – and then sent that off to be printed on a shirt.

Next step, bottoms. I knew I would not like running in a long skirt (like Leia’s iconic outfit from Episode 3). I decided on a running skirt from I love these skirts because they have pockets and compression shorts underneath. I picked my skirt up at Marathon weekend (yey expos!). 

Last step, the belt. This was the real trouble for the whole costume. I knew I didn’t want heavy. I also knew I didn’t want to spend a lot to make a belt I would only maybe wear once or twice.

I decided the easiest material to work with would be felt and sparkle material. A quick trip to my local craft store and boom – I was in business.

Now, how do I make a belt?!?! I turned to Pinterest to find a pattern. There were a lot of detailed patterns for a more authentic looking belt. I found one for a Halloween costume and after looking at it, I realized it was at the belt shape I wanted.

Step 1: gather all materials needed; pattern, construction paper, pencil, felt, sparkle material, scissors, tape and pins.

Step 2: assemble the pattern

I cut out the pattern once. I then taped piece 1 and 2 together. From there, I traced the pattern twice on to construction paper. Once both pieces were cut out, I taped both sides together to make one large belt shape.

Step 3: cutting the material

I put the belt shape on top of my sparkle material and pinned the shape down. From there, I proceeded to start cutting the belt out of the material. I repeated this process twice so I could have both sides of the belt.

Step 4: adding felt

After cutting these pieces, it became very clear that I would need to add the felt to the sparkle. This would give the belt some weight. I repeated step 3 but with felt. Once the felt was cut, I used fabric glue to attach the sparkle to the felt.

Step 5: sewing

After letting the glue dry overnight, I got ready to sew the 2 pieces together. Sewing is not my best work so my stitching is very fundamental and did the trick. 

Step 6: finishing the belt

Last step was to add Velcro to the belt. I bought adhesive Velcro and cut it into strips. The instructions said to let the adhesive sit for 24 hours after applied to the fabric. 

Finished look:

Not pictured: my white runDisney New Balance shoes completed the look

And you can see that it was a humid morning and my buns barely made it through the corrals but here’s what they looked like: