As I’ve put this whole concept together, I’ve thought long and hard about perceptions of me as a person and how it might affect what I’m trying to do with Run For Something. So, let me get this out right off the bat:
I ‘m no saint. To be honest, my first nature is not excessively generous or helpful. Ask me the last time I fed the homeless or dropped some money in the hat of the dirty guy at the intersection and I’ll tell you: a long time ago. But I don’t think it takes a saint to do something good. If goodness rested in the hands of saints, this world would be a pretty dim place simply because they are outnumbered by the rest of us. It falls on your average human, capable of both darkness and light. In short, it’s up to us.
Two years ago, my wife connected with a group called Mocha Club. A NPO that focuses on African outreach in one of a handful of areas, you can read more about them here at www.mochaclub.org . Jen spent two weeks in Ethiopia, working at a handful of orphanages. It was a life-altering experience for her. She didn’t go in and single-handedly alter the future of the nation. But she made a difference in the lives of a few children and more importantly, made a difference in herself.
The basic jist of the Mocha Club is this: with what you pay for two mochas a month, roughly $7.00, you can make a big difference in the lives of a few in Africa. It’s not an unfamiliar model. But what was unique to me was that they also provided a means of connecting people with the projects their money goes towards. I liked that engagement aspect a lot. This was no guilt-trip infomercial. This was real. It told me was there were a lot of ways to help, from the traditional donation to the opportunity to actually get out there and engage with the folks you are helping to support. A chance to alter your mindset, to bring back a message you can pass along to your circle of friends and family.
Pretty sweet. So I gave, and continue to do so to this day.
About a year later, I came across a project for the Maasai which utilized runners in the New York City Marathon for charity fundraising. Go to www.maasaimarathon.com to see for yourself. It was a little bit of a whack across the back of the head…What if I could do something like this for Mocha Club? I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. Races have a long-standing relationship with charities. Athletes have been brought into the process with concepts like Team in Training, which raises millions for cancer research every year. So why couldn’t it work for Mocha Club?
Ever do walk-a-thons as a kid? I went door to door every spring as an elementary school kid raising money for my perpetually broke small private school. For the walkathon, people would pledge whatever they felt…sometimes a dollar a mile, sometimes a dime, whatever. On Walkathon Day, it was a grand adventure. I think the course couldn’t have been longer than five or ten miles, with little aid stations along they way where an adult would stamp your card to verify that, yes, you did in fact walk as far as you claimed and you could grab a cookie and some lemonade. I looked forward year-round to that little fundraiser because it tied something I was good at (distance) with something noble (raising money for my broke school).
So, here I am again, 23 years down the line. But this time it’s not a ten year-old with a bowl cut and a grin at your door. Now it’s a 33 year old with some gray hairs, who runs a lot but wants to use that running to do something for Mocha Club. That something, I’ve determined, is the following: fundraise and promote awareness for the Mocha Club through my running.
1) Run Grandma’s Marathon, in Duluth, MN on June 17th in 2:45 or faster
2) Raise $500 or better in funds for Mocha Club
How I’m going to achieve them:
1) Lots of running. By the time June 19th comes around, I’ll have logged close to 2000 miles since the 1st of January. Dozens of speed and strength workouts accomplished within a carefully planned training plan with the sole aim of putting me on that start line with fire in my veins and steel in my will.
2) I’m asking you (and myself) to donate to Mocha club. I’m still working on how much, and working through a couple of models to employ, but should have that out soon.
Now, I know that as soon as you read this, everyone is going to sprint to www.mochaclub.org, debit card in hand to make their donations…but I’m asking you to hold off for a sec since I’m trying to work out the infrastructure on their website. More to follow there…
So that’s it for now. Not a memo, but a mission statement. I’ll keep you all informed as I work out the details on the donations…in the meantime, please visit Mocha Club’s web page. Let that percolate in your mind for a bit.