Today was supposed to wrap up our four part series on the “Why” of Runners Doing Good. I’m still very excited to share the next part of that as it’s firmly focused on NeighborLink Fort Wayne, our cause of choice. They are such a great group and I love what they do more and more as time goes on and I get to know more of the good people there. There’s a lot to appreciate about them.
But today, I’m happy to make an announcement!
For the 3rd year in a row, we will have a DONATION MATCH to help us kick-off our fundraiser! The fundraiser will officially begin on Monday March 1st and every dollar from private donors, up to $1500, will be matched dollar for dollar!
In 2020, we raised a shade over $1400 in our kick-off and fell just short of $3,000 total for the month of March. It signified a major step forward in our fundraising. 5 years in and on our 6th campaign, we’d had our best fundraising month EVER. It challenged for our best month of private donations, without the match!
And so we enter March 2021 in many ways starting over excited with the knowledge that we’ve been here before, succeeded, but still have unfinished business because of how things ended.
As Phillip Rivers, now retired QB of the Colts would say, Nunc Coepi! Begin Again! And it certainly is time to begin this running and fundraising adventure again and we do so, knowing that one of our biggest supporters is again in our corner:
Tim…you are an inspiration and we thank you for your generosity, kindness, support, and encouragement by doing our best to make you proud. We simply couldn’t do this without you and it’s an absolute honor to have you in our corner.
So why do we run Ragnar Relay races as the driver of our fundraising? We could all just run a 5K, hike some great distance, or bike something else individually but there’s something about doing this as a team that has really taken us.
It’s truly about “basking in the joy of achieving something, together, that we could never have done alone.” We are mostly a group of “Average Joes” who tackle this race. Yes we often times have 1 or 2 that are really good but in general, we pride ourselves on being regular folks who love to run so when we finish it, it really is a major sense of accomplishment.
Ragnars do have a different feel to them though. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a competition where most everyone is that happy or nearly giddy to be there and more so, encouraging towards the runners around them. It is a truly unique atmosphere.
Yes, there are moments where you’ll wonder why you committed to this. I have certainly had my doubts. I have certainly had my moments where I wanted to quit! One vividly comes to mind:
It was 2:30 in the morning, 40 degrees, and I was running directly into a 15 mph wind. The run started in the parking lot of a casino in northern Michigan but it quickly turned left and out into the country. The terrain was mainly flat to start but then it started these big stair case styled inclines that lasted the better part of two and a half miles. I had gotten chilled earlier in the day and the conditions that morning weren’t helping things. A month or so before, I’d been running the best I had in a decade but I tweaked a groin muscle and felt “ok” enough to give the Ragnar a go and I’d run pretty well the day prior during my day runs. That morning though….was miserable. Cold, wind-whipped, and taking a wrong step, I slightly tweaked it again. I started my downhill portion of the run and got through that but it just wasn’t a good situation. At now 3:15 in the morning and about 4 miles into a 7.5 mile run, it definitely wasn’t fun and I was ready to quit, nearly in tears. I was running with my phone and went to call my buddy Art, who was our driver, twice to tell him to come pick me up because I was done.
On the third time, I worked up enough gumption to actually make that call and I start talking about how bad this sucks and my groin hurts and I hear in the most, and I say this lovingly…haha, annoyingly chipper voice for the time of day, “YOU GOT THIS BUDDY! YOU’RE DOING GREAT! WE LOVE YA! YOU GOT THIS!” — CLICK.
Son of a gun. He hung up on me. I wanted to quit. He wouldn’t let me and I could hear the others waiting on me cheering me on too. I wasn’t happy with them for being so darn upbeat at this point in the morning. I was tired, grumpy, hurting, cold, and running considerably slower than I wanted. That’s a pretty crappy combination of things. And then I looked up.
I looked up and saw the lights of the fairground that I was running towards. Before I stuffed my phone back in my arm sleeve, I checked my mileage. I was less than 2.5 out. “How’d that happen?”, I thought. I was so annoyed at everything that I ran a mile and didn’t even realize it and with the end in sight, I buckled in and powered towards the end. When I got there, I had a team waiting and cheering me on like you wouldn’t believe. There was no reason for them to be that supportive and fired up at 3-whatever in the morning on a COLD September Saturday morning but they were and I think that’s the essence of what Ragnar is about.
It’s about overcoming what, at times, feels impossible…..together.
It’s also why it’s been such a great event for us to mesh with our fundraising efforts. When we all started this back in 2015, raising $1,000 seemed IMPOSSIBLE, but we doubled it….together.
And that togetherness extends well beyond just people running the relay. It’s the families that make the sacrifice to allow their husband or wife to train hard throughout the week to get ready for such a tough race. It’s the businesses that give up a bit of their profits to support us through sponsorship. It’s the community, not just of Fort Wayne but well outside our wonderful city limits, because we’ve been getting donations from upwards of 15-20 states, who so generously give of their hard earned money to support amazing charities like NeighborLink Fort Wayne.
All of those things come together to make, for the exception of one pandemic filled and cancelled year, a runaway train of goodness, kindness, and support for what Team Runners Doing Good does because without it, just like I mentioned at the beginning…..this is doing and achieving something “together that we could never have done alone.”
And that’s why we participate in Ragnar Relays. It simply sets the tone for our team and for our mission.
Now you know and with that, here’s some pictures from past races we’ve participated in, Ragnar Relay Chicago (’15, ’16, & ’17) and Ragnar Relay Michigan (’18 & ’19). As you can see, it’s a blast!
Maybe this should be one of the last posts. Maybe I’m a little nostalgic after spending the better part of a Spring, Summer, Fall, and now working on Winter, not doing as much in my city, but Fort Wayne is important to our story. It has become a much more vibrant city than when I was a kid. Just look at these wonderful pictures. If you’ve never been here in the summer, it can be a pretty fun and special place. Summers here at great. So are the people and that’s maybe the biggest part of our “Why….Local?”
As mentioned in our first post: “Why…Give Back?”, this isn’t what we planned from the beginning. We just wanted to get in better shape. I definitely needed it but again, the goal wasn’t to do this for charity and when we made that decision, it was a huge turning point in the team’s evolution. It became about much more than ourselves but when that question whether to run for charity was answered, another was posed, “Who?”
If you also recall, because we hadn’t done this before, the expectations were fairly low. We just weren’t sure what we could do so our focus turned to groups that we could do something for that what we did could make an impact, even with a smaller fundraising total.
Really at that point, something or someone local was really where we turned. $500 for The American Heart Association was a nice donation but they bring in millions annually. We’d just be another donor with a nice sized gift but again, we’d largely be just another number to them. Please don’t take this that we don’t care for the large charities. That’s not the case. We certainly support what they do but we really wanted our running and fundraising to leave a mark. That was a point that became more and more important to us and so the focused truly turned to what does the profile of that organization look like?
We started looking around trying to come up with ideas and it came clear to us fairly quickly. We were proud of our city so it needed to be local to Fort Wayne and we wanted to make an impact so it needed to be something on a smaller scale. It wasn’t long after that when I noticed a post from a friend about Kate’s Kart and how they affected their family with giving their kid a book when they were in the hospital and it was a lightbulb moment. My wife and I had just gone through a similar scenario with our oldest and it just seemed like a no-brainer. I proposed it to our team and said, here’s a small charity that serves a nice portion of the Fort Wayne area, specifically kids, and if we can raise $1,000, that’s a lot of books they can buy.
The next few years manifested itself in about $16,000 in fundraising for them which is approximately 2300 books that they could purchase because of us. That was a truly awesome feeling because it accomplished everything we’d hoped our efforts would. We helped a great organization locally and made a nice impact for them. They weren’t a million dollar organization so donating $2250, $3610, $4536, and $5610 in consecutive years to their benefit was hugely impactful. That many books covered, at one time, a months worth of books so it worked well for us for a good while.
During that time, some thoughts turned to, could we do this for 2 organizations? I always kept an eye towards possibilities and NeighborLink was one of those groups that I thought to myself that if we were able to do more, they seemed like a great and worthwhile organization to partner with and that thought couldn’t have been confirmed more. The difference was that we would be taking our efforts to them solely and that wasn’t something I could have foretold.
In the Fall of ’18, it became apparent that we needed to move on to something new and that was a hard decision to make but when things fell into place with NeighborLink For Wayne, it felt like we were exactly where we needed to be and we’ve not looked back. Part of it is that with NeighborLink, we went from helping a very small, very specific segment of our Fort Wayne community to serving a much larger segment. This has opened up who our efforts can help to a much greater extent.
When I look at the above pictures, I see all of the beautiful things that encompass what makes Fort Wayne special: Promenade Park, Parkview Field, and on and on and those are great but like so many cities, not everything is shiny and pretty. There’s grief, struggle, and difficulty for many citizens and I feel that through our support of NeighborLink Fort Wayne, we’re able to help strike at that a bit.
I can’t say that we won’t ever try to do something on a larger scale but for now and the foreseeable future, it’s a pretty good feeling knowing that what we’re doing makes a difference right here in Fort Wayne, IN.
Admittedly, when this whole running adventure took off, “Giving Back” wasn’t part of the equation. It wasn’t a selfish thing, but it just wasn’t something we’d thought of, to be honest. With more thought of what we were trying to accomplish, it really felt like we were trying to do something big and if we could do that, then it could be the kind of thing where we could do some good and “Give Back.”
We honestly and truthfully had no idea what we were doing in that first year. The hope, really was to set a goal, promote it as best we could, and see where it goes. Ever pessimisstic about it, we didn’t think we’d hit the goal but the fact that our team had 12 people on it, we thought that if we came up $500 short of that $1,000 goal, $50 or so wouldn’t be too much for us to spread around.
In reality, when we started this whole thing, we effectively tossed a stone and created a ripples upon ripples.
When you more than double a goal that you really didn’t beleive you’d ever hit, it’s a great feeling but it also creates more ripples and “what ifs” that flutter about your mind like, “if we could raise $2,000, what would it take to hit $3,000 or $4,000?” Or, “what if we saved more on the operations’ side and could give that to the fundraiser, how much higher could that push the total?” Or, “do you think we can get sponsors and really cut down on expenses?”
It all becomes a wonderful snowball that takes on a life of its own. We never planned on this and so it really has changed from “Why…..Give Back?” to “Why….Continue to Give Back?”
When you realize that the average childrens’ book to be around $7 and we ended up raising about $16,000 for Kate’s Kart, that’s almost 2300 books that we essentially helped fund that went to hospitalized kids. When you consider that nearly $7500 for NeighborLink turned into 5 furnaces fixed or replaced right before the coldest temps of the year hit in early ’20 before the world went crazy, it is a wonderful feeling to have.
But it’s not about good feelings, it’s about supporting those that are doing the good deeds. The things that organizations, like Kate’s Kart and NeighborLink Fort Wayne, do are special and we’re not able to do those things. We’re not that specialized but we are willing to do some things like running 200 miles from Madison to Chicago to benefit a great organization and people have, so far, responded to our brand of philanthropic craziness. We’re just a conduit of support for these organizations who are doing the actual good within the community and that’s what this is all about. If we succeed, then ultimately, it helps them succeed.
We never planned for any of this but somewhere an idea was cast and for more than 6 years now all sorts of ripples have come of it
Gabe here…the last 6 years have been a wonderful challenge and wildly successful by all accounts. I doubt that anyone who has worked with our team would suggest otherwise and at the surface, it could be easy to figure out why the team and I do what we do but there’s more to it.
Over the next 4 weeks, starting on February 3rd and ending on the 24th, I’ll answer 4 questions:
#1 Why Give Back?
#2 Why Local?
#3 Why Ragnar?
#4 Why NeighborLink Fort Wayne?
Then on March 1st, our annual fundraising campaign will officially kick off and you’ll know exactly why.
Happy Wednesday everyone! Let’s finish this week out strong!
Now that we’re firmly into 2021, I thought I’d provide an update on how things are going as well a quick glimpse into the future so here goes:
So far, we’re in a bit of a rut, I’d still call it the covid rut. The fortunate thing is that we have enough sponsorship dollars to fund our team so we’re a go on this. With any new endeavor, I like to try the options that Ragnar has available and then trim and/or expand from there. It’s truly been a bit of a trial and error type of thing throughout the years.
Part of the reason we’re able to cover this event as well as a reason we chose it was because every few years, the team needs a bit of a renewal and with wanting to continue to push this forward, we needed to take a half step back to be more cost effective. So we went with a new event, Ragnar Trail Michigan, that requires fewer runners and is overall, less costly to participate in. It also enables more sponsorship dollars to go to the fundraiser.
We are less than $1,000 from hitting our sponsorship goal which we’d then use those dollars to cover our lodging at this event. It might be a bit of a luxury and I hesitate to use that word, but again, I usually upon going into a new event, go this route and then figure out if we can do it better ourselves. This would most likely be a one-off type of thing where we’d use their lodging options and then next year, we’ll save by building off of this experience. We’ve done a fantastic job of doing that over the last 6 years and with that level of success, we’ll approach it that way again.
Lastly, without much detail…a glimpse of things to come:
Our fundraiser to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne will officially kick off on March 1st. We have a matching commitment to announce as well as our annual Donation Scavenger Hunt that will kick off then as well.
Thank you to all who have supported us in the past. We are excited for what is to come in 2021. The last 12 months have been difficult but the outlook for the next 12 is going to be amazing.
Who is Runners Doing Good? At our heart, we’re an ever changing group of runners, mostly average Joes and weekend warriors, based in Fort Wayne, IN who participate in long distance, relay style races to benefit a local charitable organization. Since 2019, we’ve run to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne.
In all, our runners have raised more than $27,000 and run nearly 1,000 miles since this craziness began when we first ran Ragnar Relay Chicago in the summer of 2015. It wasn’t meant to be that way. That was supposed to have been a one-off, single race, but when you’re supported like we were, we instantly knew that we loved the race and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see how high we could push our fundraising efforts and to date, we’ve not found the ceiling yet.
If you’d like to follow along with our adventures, please look us up on the following social media presences:
Thank you for your continued interest and if you would like to support our group, please follow along and if you feel compelled, visit our team store to purchase a wristband which will help defray costs of our operations.
I’ve been thinking about the last day or two and where we are in the world and I can’t help but think….we can do better. The time for talk is over.
We. Can. Do. Better. We. Must. Do. Better.
Our actions have to meet the day. Our actions have to give hope. Our actions have to provide a light so that others may see it and be encouraged.
So here’s the promise: Runners Doing Good is committed to amplifying the stories of those doing good within our own community while still working our hardest to support NeighborLink Fort Wayne through our own campaign to raise awareness and money to benefit them so that they can continue to do the amazing work they perform within the city of Fort Wayne.
It is easy to get drug down into the negativity. May we all stand strong, steadfast, and committed to supporting each other as well as purposefully and intentionally drown out the negative by promoting the good in the world around us.
In the fall of 2018, Runners Doing Good, then Runnin’ Not Walken, was at a crossroads. We had made the difficult decision to part ways with our original cause of choice due to a difference of opinion over how our team should operate. The team and I were so invested in them that although the decision was the right one for our team, it was still devastating. I would be lying today if I told you there wasn’t a part of me still stung by how that went down. Nonetheless, we really were at a place of uncertainty.
Would we continue? Who would we run to benefit? It was a time of much thought and research into the types of organizations that we’d want to work to benefit. It was really difficult to find one because there were so many good organizations out there but one kept coming up in conversation: NeighborLink Fort Wayne.
I decided to check out 3 different organizations, NLFW being one of them. The first two asked who I was in the running and I told them. Their response, “If you don’t choose to do something with us, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Andrew Hoffman and NeighborLink. He’s built something pretty special over there and they’re doing great things.” They couldn’t have been more right. NLFW and Andrew have been as advertised and then some and we are proud to continue that partnership today.
Andrew has left an indelible mark on our community and I’m sure will continue to do so even if he’s not the Executive Director of NeighborLink. As a small running group that didn’t work with him as closely as others did, we felt priviledged to have worked with him so I can only imagine how those that have worked with him all these feel right now.
He allowed us to be us. He didn’t dictate how we needed to do anything but gave us the flexibility to continue on as we have in the past to work to support the good that NLFW and he were doing within the community.
So it is with genuine sincerity that we thank him for his support and our best wishes for continued success in making our crazy world a little better.
If you’d like to read his press release, please visit NeighborLink’s blog:
I am a child of the 80’s and nothing was cooler than watching Rocky 5. The end of the Cold War was ending and Rocky in all of his flag trunked glory defeating Ivan Drago, garnering applause even from fake Gorbachev was awesome.
That movie as well as every other movie in the Rocky series wouldn’t be the same if Rocky just steamrolled everyone. If Rocky were Ivan Drago, how fun or interesting would that have been?
Rocky wasn’t Drago and he had faults and often lost, in some fashion, in every movie before he rose up, trained, and ultimately won the day. I feel like 2020 – 2021 will be like that.
So many lost so much in 2020. Even those of us who were fortunate to not suffer the loss of family, a job, or even deal with catching the virus itself have dealt with isolation, depression, and various other issues that only this year could throw at us.
So here’s the deal….THE COMEBACK STARTS NOW!!! This doesn’t mean that we’ve found the light at the end of this tunnel of suck that we’ve endured, however, it means that we’re encouraging you to finish the planning and hit the road THIS YEAR to make a difference in your space, your life, your community. Many have been stuck in neutral or felt cooped up during this year and it’s time, like Rocky, to hit play on your favorite training montage, get off of the canvas, and win the day!
So with that, here’s….
Runners Doing Good’s Goals for 2021!!
1)Achieve Epic Goals by Tackling The Epic
For us, this is a multifaceted goal but when it comes down to it, we are a running team primarily consisting of “average joes” who look to use their love of running and community to achieve an above average amount of success for a great local charity.
This has manifested itself in us participating in long distance, relay style races every year, with the exception of 2020, to raise money for local charities.
Once again in ’21, we’ll be running to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne! Learn more about who they are here and how they’ve used the money we’ve raised in the past, here:
So what is a Ragnar Trail Relay? Here’s a good description:
What is comes down to is that our team is going to run 128 miles through the forested hills of Hanson Hills Recreational Area in Grayling, MI and it’s always an exciting endeavor to take on a task this large.
The beauty of running a Ragnar whether it is a road race or the trail race is that it’s an epic task that we could only achieve together and that’s a lot like what NeighborLink is doing within our community. They are tackling needs and projects of folks within our community that if one or two people tried doing it all, it’d be impossible.
But when you bring groups and teams together, anything is possible.
Our goal to benefit NLFW is set at $10,000 combined between sponsorship and private donations. We’re not aiming small by any means. Again….Achieve Epic Goals by Attacking The Epic.
$10,000 for charity because we tackled 125+ miles of hilly and wooded trails? Epic.
2) Create a Revenue Stream
For more than 5 years now, we’ve been able to gradually increase our sponsorship so our expenses were fully covered which allowed our runners to spend more time concentrated on their running without worrying about how much this would cost. As the sponsorship dollars exceeded our operational needs, we’ve been able to give more and more to our charity of choice.
Yes, we’ve had an incredible amount of private support but the increase in sponsors has made a considerable impact on our ability to bump our totals from year to year. Initially, it was a couple of hundred dollars but in ’19, we had more than $1,000 in sponsorship dollars that went to NeighborLink. That’s impactful for what we do.
What we’d love to do is not only increase those sponsorship dollars but also increase the amount that goes to the charity because we’re able to cover some of our costs on our own. It’s why we started our ONLINE STORE with something small, wristbands:
We’ve only sold a dozen or so and at $5 each, it’s going to take a good bit for that to pile up but if we could cover one item through the sale of these wristbands, it’d be incredible to say we did that on our own and that those dollars will definitely be going to charity.
If we can achieve that, it’d be a huge step in our team’s continued evolution.
3) Plan for 2025
Every year since this all began, it has surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. I’ve had a thousand ideas and goals of what this could be and at this stage in life I’m still grappling with questions like:
Do I truly have time for this?
Should we formally organize as a non-profit? Going non-profit, will it make it easier or harder?
Will people run for us without being on the Ragnar Team? If not, do we have the ability to field 2 teams?
Same race or different? How about running a Ragnar outside of the Midwest?
We’ve raised more than $27,000, in 6 years, can we get to $50,000 by year 10? Do I want to be doing this when I’m in my mid 40’s?
What can we truly be? Do it we grow this as far as it can, or do we remain a group of friends who enjoy the adventure of the run and the challenge of doing some good for folks?
All of these questions are ones that need to be answered at some point. I feel like we have accomplished so much but there is room to develop this more, refine it, create community, and see it become impactful in a significant way.
I can not describe how blessed we’ve felt to receive the support we have throughout these years. It is humbling and I’m excited to answer these questions and to see where this goes but if we’re going to continue on, at least for the next couple of years, we need to start planning now.
2020 might have taken a year of competition and fundraising away but we’re game for reaching towards heights we’ve not hit yet in 2021 and that means we’ll have one heck of a comeback.
That all starts…NOW! Who’s with us???
Happy New Year’s everyone! May it be filled with wishes granted, good health for you and yours, and happiness that shows no bounds.