Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? I set goals that are flexible enough so they are not quickly abandoned as New Year’s Resolutions often are. I have new goals for myself this year professionally (this blog is part of that), personally (like a lot of you it has to do with eating healthier), and running, which for me is a whole separate category. More on that to come. But if you’re still looking for ways to fulfill your promise to yourself to get healthier this year, let’s talk about fundraising. Yes, fundraising!
The last race I ran in 2015 was the Reindeer Run in Franklin Lakes. It was a fundraiser for The Academy of the Most Blessed Sacrament (the elementary school were I spent 9 years of my life from Kindergarten through the 8th grade). My first race of 2016 has already been completed – the Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary’s First Day 5k. These local races give us such a great opportunity to get up and out and to do something healthy with family and friends. But these little races are also supporting the schools, civic organizations, and non-profits that make our communities a great place to live and work. To find a race near you start with USATF and look at the race calendar or link to your local chapter.
I feel fortunate that my hobby (passion?) provides a vehicle for fundraising for such important missions that impact so many lives. I feel even better when I can be intimately involved in these events. And I’ve been involved in the inception of several races, to planning, to event day management and staffing. It should come as no surprise that my professional career and my running life began and took shape simultaneously.
I was always an athlete, but I hated to run. As an adult I was constantly searching for my “grown-up sport.” I played a little tennis, tried golf and even joined a bowling league. It wasn’t until I decided to make a career change and enrolled in a certificate program that I also stumbled on the right new sport.
The certificate was in event marketing offered by NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. My first class was “Events Public Relations” taught by a woman who at the time also served as Vice President of Public Relations for New York Road Runners. Most of the materials she used in class were from the NYC Marathon. The competitor in me kept thinking “I could do that!” even though I doubt I could run a block at that point. Thankfully, one of the class’ guest speakers came to talk about the (then) Chemical Bank Corporate Challenge and helped me set a more realistic initial goal.
It was spring 1995 and I worked in a fairly dysfunctional sales office. When I heard about the great team-building benefits of the Corporate Challenge I thought it might be a good way to try running and put an end to office politics too! So, my first race. And I never looked back.
A year later I had my certificate in event marketing and 18 months after that I did the impossible. I finished the New York City Marathon. By then I was the special events director for Bergen County’s United Way and raised over $5000 for that organization through the marathon – I had successfully started my fundraising career and found a sport for grown- ups. They both became my passion. Running helps me stay focused and disciplined which obviously helps my work and I have found that raising money for a good cause is a real motivator when training for a marathon.
Every runner – and every person involved with non-profits from staff to volunteers – has a story about how they got started and what keeps them going – what’s yours?
Saddle River County Park, Paramus, NJ. January 2016.