Special events: June 2009 Archives

June 13, 2009

Are Charities Ignoring the Health of Runners at Marathon Fundraisers?

That's the suggestion made by coaches interviewed in this article by Julie Deardoff of the Chicago Tribune. Problems include runners who push themselves harder than they should, feeling they owe it to the charity, and others who decide they're going to make it to the finish line even if they have to stay until well after dark, when the help stations and others have packed up and gone.

Deardoff's article also notes a number of the wonderful things about athletic events built around fundraising, including the extra charge participants get by working together with others toward a cause.

But there's a warning flag in this article for any charity that puts on marathons or similar events -- you don't want to be the one that's a little lax on safety standards, leading to a major injury or safety problem that makes the contributors to this article look prophetic.
June 3, 2009

Oh, It's a Fundraiser! (Why Didn't They Say So?)

I'm just back from a vacation on the East Coast, which included some long, lovely drives through the small towns of upstate New York. The weather was balmy, the people were friendly. Nevertheless, I believe I alienated an entire small-town fire department -- and all due to their assumption that I knew about their fundraising cause.

There we were, my husband driving his father's car (with New York plates, so that no one knew we were hapless tourists), watching Memorial Day flags flutter from porches and barbecue smoke rise from backyards, when we saw a sign saying "Boot Drive Ahead." I asked my husband, "What's a Boot Drive?" He grew up in Buffalo, so he had more chance of knowing than I. Neither of us had a clue -- it sounded like some traffic penalty, like when they put a big metal thingy around your tire for not knowing that Oakland street-sweepers don't observe a certain federal holiday.

Rows of people lined the town's main street, including some firefighters in uniform, whose backs happened to be turned to us as we made our way along. Then a policeman very sternly motioned for us to stop. We did, but didn't roll down our windows. He gave us a dirty look and let us zoom off (somewhat eagerly, confused by the whole experience).

Only then did the other shoe (or boot) drop. In the rearview mirror, I saw a fireman holding a boot out toward a car. He was collecting money, presumably to support the local fire department. Oops. We did offer some green to the next town's boot-wielding fireman. But c'mon folks, a little more signage would have helped. There's nothing tacky about saying something like, "Support Your Local Fire Department!" Moral of the story: Vagueness in fundraising leads to lost chances to interact with potential donors.