Choosing to run for Charity


I took a bit of a leap when I decided to run for Team Healthy Kids. Running a marathon is difficult enough, why would I add on a summer of fundraising as well?

Looking back on my charity involvement, I can recall only once when I was a fundraiser. And while funds were successfully raised, that effort didn't sit very well with me because I later learned that 50% of the money went to the organization and 50% went to lobbyists. (I was apparently quite naive.) 

Generally, I play the role of donator and volunteer. On a few occassions, I have been an organizer. I did a little bit to help out here and there, mostly helping friends and charities that I knew well.
But over last year, while volunteering at a city school, spending mornings reading with young kids, I realized how limited my impact could be as just one person. At the same time, I was reading a book that gave me a bit of a new perspective. The author mentioned that the best thing one could do for a charity that they valued was to be an advocate. In my view, there are very few things more important than children and schools.

As a fan of Dean Karnazes, I had read in his book 50/50 that he had established a charity to help get kids active and he talked about how kids from schools across the country came out to support him during his 50 marathons. After a little looking, I found that Dean was now associated with Action For Healthy Kids, a charity focused on activity, nutrition, kids and schools. Bingo.

I did some research into Action For Healthy Kids and began to really identify with some of the things they were doing. Their goal is Every Kid Healthy. To achieve that goal, they are doing very practical things like vegetable taste test parties, breakfast programs, building playgrounds and generally helping kids be comfortable with healthy choices. Additionally, 92% of their funding went to the cause. So I made a note to stay aware of them and look for opportunities to get involved and contribute. 

Fast forward a few months and I receive an email saying I could run the NYC Marathon as part of Team Healthy Kids, a charity team to benefit Action For Healthy Kids. Here it was, the chance to do something I knew how to do, run, for a cause I believed in, healthy kids. Charity Advocate and Fundraiser, neither being my strong suit, but this was the opportunity to move out of my comfort zone and act. Thanks to some self-reflection and a little extra encouragement from my fabulous wife, I became a member of Team Healthy Kids.

I wasn't sure what the experience was going to be like.  I was a little nervous to be responsible for my $3,000 goal. I was nervous about asking people for money. But I was confident in the cause and I knew that I had the support of my family and friends.

Oddly, I wasn't nervous about my ability to run the marathon. In fact, I didn't think much about the running of the 26.2 miles. Slowly, it began to hit me...

“I’m going to raise $3,000 to help kids eat healthy and then I’m going to run 26.2 miles through the streets of New York City! ... New York City!”

Suddenly, November 2nd wasn't very far away. I had only 18 weeks of training and fundraising left. It was time to get to work.