Runners Doing Good #8 – Gabe

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I hate writing about myself and if I could get away from leaving this part blank, I would but it’s not fair to subject all of the friends and family that I put through this to profiles on themselves and then not do it myself so here goes.

I am, from a distance standpoint, number 1 on our leaderboard. I wouldn’t say that’s a feat of greatness by any means. It just means that I’ve done this the longest of anyone that’s run with us. I suppose that something. Had I not cramped up at the very end of ’16 and had Michael finish for me, this year I would have crossed 100 miles run in Ragnar Relay races for Runnin’ Not Walken / Runners Doing Good. I’m not particular OCD or anal about anything but that fact does annoy me a bit. 98.76 miles sounds like a lot but 100+ just sounds nicer.

What’s most important to me about this whole thing is that we’ve done a lot of good, for great organizations, with great friends, and have created a culture and expectation that is predicated on exceeding expectations.

A couple of thoughts on those points:

First — Doing a lot of good for great organizations….

We haven’t skipped around to a lot of groups within the Fort Wayne community. This year will be our 7th campaign, which just took me by surprise when I looked it up and our 6th run, and we’ve only worked with two: Kate’s Kart for 3 campaigns from ’15 – ’18 and NeighborLink Fort Wayne from ’19 til now.

Combined, and it’s why I’ve left this line seperate from the above paragraph, we’ve raised $31,876 as of today!

That’s remarkable considering we never thought we’d raise $1,000 that first year. Most importantly of this point, it’s supported the do-gooders. We’re not set up to be the boots on the ground that does the work but we can do something audacious and raise some money to help their mission and when you consider we’re quickly approaching $32,000, I’d say we’ve done a nice job of that.

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On doing this with great friends —

While this has snowballed in ways I never could have imagined, I’ve had some of the very best people I know at my side the whole time. That has been a true blessing. It’s not often that when you’re in your mid-30’s that you get to take time-out and play outdoors with your friends but I’ve been lucky in this regard.

I often speak of year one in nostalgic terms and that’s because the people I ran and played with as a child were all in that van with me. My cousins Brandon and Joel, who I spent countless hours playing basketball and baseball, running around the farm on our bikes, picking and eating berries, fishing, and whatever else we could get ourselves in to were there. Nerk, their cousin on the other side of their family, who is probably the friend I’ve known longer than any other outside of family was there. Joel’s girlfriend, Ruso, who’s now his wife, was an absolute joy to have with us that weekend. My godson Ryan was there and it was an amazing opportunity for us to reconnect and hang out in a way we hadn’t before. He was busy with school and growing up as I was beginning my adult life with getting married and starting a family so we didn’t get to hang out a ton there for a bit but the Ragnar allowed us to do that. His brother Adam, much like Ryan, joined us and I was 10 when he was born so it was cool to spend time with him and catch up in a way we hadn’t. It was also amazing to see him connect with Artie, one of my very best friends who’s also a bit crazy, and how those two jumped right into the Talladega Nights theme as drivers. Those two were a bigger deal that weekend that anything we did. The other teams loved them!

And that was just one year! In all, we’ve had more than 30 runners take part in a Ragnar in one location or another whether it was in Wisconsin on our way to Chicago in the oppressive heat, taking on the cold of late September in the northwestern half of “The Mitten”, or whatever we’re going to see at the end of this week.

There have been so many people that have made this whole adventure special that I can’t name them all but as always, my wife Jennifer is at the top of that list. It’s no surprise that we really hit another gear when she got involved. Taking this all on wouldn’t be possible without here but being able to share it with her is special. She downplays here contributions the whole way but half of our team this year is because of her. She’s a magnet that people gravitate towards and I know for a fact that I’d hardly have a team without her and our fundraising success would be limited considerably. She makes the motor run.

Beyond her, it’s been incredible to take on this challenge with friends, family, and acquaintances that becomes friends because of this shared experience. It’s difficult to put into words what it means but again, it’s just special and I never would have guessed this would be one of the true perks of doing this for so long but beside the joy of good we do, doing that with these people is at the top.

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On a Culture of Exceeding Expectations —

So much of what we’ve done has been the result of this snowballing effect because our expectations were so low to begin with. We just never thought we’d be “here” or whatever this is but we’ve upped the ante every year in some way.

Typically that’s involved beating our fundraising total, which coming out of the pandemic, I don’t expect us to do. I believe we’ll pass our goal by July 2nd but $7500? Not likely. It’s a weird year for that but we’ve got several returning runners who I wasn’t sure we’d get back and people are as engaged as any year we’ve had in a long time as we tackle a new racing format and my feeling is, regardless of what the weather does, that this event will exceed our expectations in a lot of ways and pave a new path forward for us.

If it weren’t for the stress of so many things converging at once this spring, I wouldn’t have had any. This has been largely, the most stress-free event I’ve planned to date. That’s huge! In the past, I had vans to lock in, condos to rent, and a ton of other details involved with a 12 person traveling and running roadshow to coordinate that while it was amazing, it was also amazingly stressful, too. I’ve welcomed this relief. While the sponsors were a grind to get this year, the lower cost of the event because of not having all of those things to lock in also made it easier to cover.

It also positions us to really take off next year too and make whatever comes next sustainable. I have an 8 year old that wants to run with us some day and he needs to be 14 to participate. I’m not sure how many years of this I have left but if it’s about as easy as this year has been, then I can see the day that I share this experience with him.

Also, we’re at almost $32,000 raised for area charity, when you add up all we’ve done! That’s huge and far beyond our expectations. Remember, we started with the hope of $1,000 and the idea that the 12 of us would pitch in to hit the goal when we came up short. At this point, why not shoot for $50,000? That’d be pretty amazing to say too.

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Lastly, I’m just excited for what this week holds for us. It’s been a grind to get here but every opportunity here is special and can’t be taken for granted. The weather might not be great but we’ve seldom had ideal weather but through it all, we’ve got a ton to be grateful for and I have meant it when I said that 2021 is going to be great.

I believe that because the world is in a better place than we were and it’s easy to regard things that way but I have and we all should have an appreciation for where we are today. It wasn’t easy to get here but we are and things are only continually improving so when we get to gather as a group and do something as crazy and daunting as a Ragnar Relay, we’ve got to take time to enjoy it and treasure the difficulty of it all, the accomplishment of the campaign, the people we get to share it with. That’s where the good stuff resides and I can’t wait to experience that.

Thanks for being a part of this, supporting us, and following along. We’ll always do our best to make you all proud and hopefully you feel we have.

Sincerely,

Gabe

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