I have come to love February. Not because of Valentine’s Day and certainly not for the weather. My fondness for this second month of the year has evolved per my family’s involvement in charitable fundraising.
My admiration for February began several years ago with my son Jimmy’s participation in THON.
Each February–this year it’s February 20 thru 22–something magical happens at Penn State. Thousands of students stay awake and on their feet for 46 hours straight; all united in working toward the sole purpose of supporting the fight against pediatric cancer. The THON website notes that back in 1973 the first dance marathon raised $2,000. Over 40 years later, THON now encompasses over 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised more than $114 million, benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
Watching Jimmy dance in 2013 is a memory I’ll carry in my heart forever.
Participant fundraising has inspired millions to contribute and donate not only money, but also time and sweat equity. We’ve long had our charity balls and telethons. However, the evolution of the participant fundraiser has expanded charitable giving far beyond the mere writing of a check.
It’s not only the younguns who are having all the fun – the 40+ crowd is happy to come down out of the middle-aged cheap seats and join in the efforts. Last year’s Ice Bucket Challenge is a good example of successful participant fundraising and it certainly included many boomers and would-be adults. Perhaps this is why charitable giving in the U.S. topped a staggering $335 billion in 2013–that’s billion with a “B” (see Charitable Giving 2013).
Image courtesy of Pixabay – http://pixabay.com/en/girl-child-astonished-surprised-388652/
It was not a total surprise when the Hubs announced he and my brother-in-law (BIL) would be participating this year, on February 14th, in the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
According to the Krispy Kreme Challenge website, the event began as a dare between a few North Carolina State undergrads back in 2004. The throw down? Run the 2.5 miles from the iconic Memorial Bell Tower on campus to the local Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Consume a dozen glazed doughnuts. Run the 2.5 miles back to the tower. Yep, sounds like college to me. Who could have imagined that a pretty dumb double-dog dare from over a decade ago would evolve into a charity fundraiser that now looks like this:
Thousand of runners, including the Hubs and BIL and friend Randy, queued up in Raleigh last Saturday morning to run in this benefit for the NC Children’s Hospital. The weather, though cold, was thankfully not the ugly snow and sleet of recent weeks. SIL Chris and I were there to lend our support–and to hold their hair back if they puked. Hubs has done some crazy things, and BIL has even run with the bulls, but THIS, this is one we’ll be talking about for years to come.
As I watched them approach the mid-point and grab their box of glazed confection, I wondered if their boyish enthusiasm would carry them through this test of gastronomic fortitude.
I’m happy to report that all three finished the doughnuts and the race without hurling–though BIL did look a bit green about the gills around doughnut #7. For those of you out there who are wondering: how hard could it be to eat a dozen Krispy Kremes? Well my friends, a lot more difficult than you can possibly imagine. I wasn’t even part of the doughnut eating masses, but I promise you it will be quite some time before I am once again excited to see the KK hot light on.
The boys are looking for their next challenge. I hate to encourage them, but if you have suggestions, please send them along.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for charity? Is there an event you’d like to recommend?