Not quite a month ago, I wrote a blog post that was titled, “An Interesting Question….” You can read it if you like but it detailed a conversation I had had where someone asked me what I’d do for the next 20 years if I wasn’t at my current job. I answered, that I’d love to do “What I do with the running team but bigger.”
Part of that answer is a belief that I could grow it to a point where I could make it my profession full time and provide for my family through it. I truly think that with a little time that I could. The kicker is that I love what I do already though, but the thought of what Runners Doing Good could be hasn’t left my head.
Part of that is because of a look to next year. Last year’s race and campaign felt like unfinished business for NeighborLink Fort Wayne. This year has felt completely and wholly different.
It has been more personal, more creative, more direct, and sustaining than any other campaign. It’s also much riskier than any campaign has been as we’ve not had an ounce of sponsorship. I fully comprehend why we don’t have any sponsorship and that’s because we’re not a non-profit. Without that, organizations struggle to just give to individuals and at the heart of it, I’m the one they look at and I get that they can’t just hand over $1,000 to some guy even if they’ve worked with that guy before.
The behind the scenes part of organizing a non-profit running “foundation” aside, this thought and internal debate over taking that step forward has been more constant than ever. In all honesty, it’s been there since we decided to move from Kate’s Kart to NeighborLink but this year just being out there on a limb, or at least feeling this way, has given root to that idea more than ever.
Even more so, though, is the thought of what could this all be if it were fully realized? Now, I don’t honestly believe that this will come to be but if it were to somehow hit a chord and snowball in a way that much of our story already has, then anything is possible, right?
So with all of that said, here’s a list of thoughts and things I’d love to say that Runners Doing Good, could become if it had the chance to reach full realization, keeping in mind that many of these are pipedreams and wishes but are still things that have registered a thought at some point. So here it is in no particular order….
- Reach Non-Profit Status
- Fully fund the operation through the creation of income streams. In the past, we’ve had sponsors from the community that have helped with this. Annual Ragnars cost us approximately $1,500 between registration, t-shirts, website, etc. That’s just for Trail Ragnars. Road Ragnars are nearly twice that.
- Grow awareness of the team locally. Much of what we’ve done has been to the benefit of local organizations and groups. If we can continue to do that then we need to spread our name better so that when Team RDG puts the call out that folks answer it. The running community is pretty amazing and the more engaged local runners can be with what we do, I know the more willing they’ll be to support us.
- Create a full Ambassador program with people willing to make their miles count through a commitment to raise dollars to support what Runners Doing Good does. The Ambassador program should have a host of benefits from discounts at local running stores to nutrition and hydration solutions to free entries into different races.
- Get included in the Fort 4 Fitness charity list so that a portion of Ambassadors’ registration can go to Runners Doing Good
- Have a gear store of RDG logo’d products for purchase but also place runners, in our gear, in the major races within the area.
- Get a state level sponsor. It would be amazing to be supported by groups based outside of Fort Wayne as it would show the impact we’re having is growing.
- Get a national sponsor. See above but bigger.
- Have relationships with a major running centric brand(s). If we’re able to show that runners of the Average Joe variety are supported by someone big like Asics, Brooks, Nuun, Nathan, Petzl, BocoGear, Gatorade, Ragnar, etc. then it proves that high level support for even them is possible because of the impact we’re making.
- Grow the Relay Team. Have larger core of runners willing to participate in Ragnar style relay events so that it’s easier to field one team with the hope of growing that to multiple teams.
- Take the Team Farther – One of those additional teams should race outside of the midwest
- Grow the Scope of the mission beyond just Fort Wayne community needs. It would be incredible to have a relationship with a national charitable organization that we could work with and support.
- Write a book about all of this
- Consult other relay teams on best practices for running relay events and fundraising as well.
- Ragnar Minnesota for Brave Like Gabe. This is one that was on my mind years ago. I never actually met Gabe Grunewald in person, however, she followed Runners Doing Good on Instagram and we chatted back and forth about what we were trying to do. At the time, it was more focused on highlighting other runners accomplishments and fundraising endeavors. She was all about it. That was in late January or early February and we even discussed doing an interview or questionnaire to highlight her and Brave Like Gabe. My dream there was to ultimately bring Runners Doing Good to Minnesota to benefit Brave Like Gabe with her and Justin on the team in some capacity. Not long after we conversed back and forth, within a few months actually, her condition worsened and she passed. This hasn’t happened and part of me really wants to still do this.
- Create an Allstar team to crush a Ragnar Road Relay’s fastest times and our best fundraising totals. We’d need incredible fundraisers willing to draw a ton of attention to the cause to raise as much as possible for it and then several out of this world runners who could make up for how slow I am and still break Ragnar’s best time. See above….
- Expand the scope of the athletics to more than just Runners Doing Good but to ___________ Doing Good with different athletes achieving other crazy feats in the name of raising money for great causes. For instance, riding a bike the length of Indiana or someone kayaking a river or completing an IronMan.
- Become big enough that we become an amplifier, for runners making a difference within their community, that can help drive traffic to their causes so that their running and fundraising campaigns are as absolutely successful as possible. Think….The Chive but for runners but without me putting on a tube top.
- Become self sufficient enough that this could become a fulltime gig for me.
So as you can see, there’s all sorts of things that I think this could be. To sit here right now and say that any of this is possible feels like I’m half crazy because maybe it’s not and I could be dead wrong but it also could be a bit fun if some of it actually hits.
In the end, this whole adventure has been a true blessing. Many of us that have done this have had the opportunity to do this multiple times from the Runnin’ Not Walken years till now have had such a unique experience. Michael, Jenn, Andrew, Courtney, Melissa, Chris, and myself…we have have been able to make a difference in the world through the craziness of our Ragnar adventures and made memories that no one can take away that will ultimately last our lifetimes. I know that I will personally hold all of those moments and laughs as precious. It’s truly been that type of special to me.
So what does the future hold? I don’t know but for now, I am beyond grateful for this experience and I look forward to whatever possibilities lie ahead.