This was a huge challenge for me because it involved putting myself out there, asking for help, and being a bit of a pest! I hate fundraising and I hate asking for help. I love helping other people when I can, though. My biggest risk here was that I would fail… very publicly.
Raising money for large runs has been going on for a lot of years and the system is a win-win-win for everyone. The event organizer, in this case RunDisney, gives select charities slots in different races. Often these races sell out fast so people who can’t register choose to run for a charity so they can get in. The charity then registers runners using these slots with the stipulation that they must raise a certain amount of money. The runner doesn’t have to pay the registration fee, the charity raises money, and it doesn’t cost RunDisney anything and they have a lot of good will to spread around. For the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend, runners from Team Lemon were raising different minimum amounts based on the events they were running. Since I was doing the Pixie Dust Challenge, which involved running the 10K and the Half Marathon back to back, my fundraising amount was the highest.
Since I knew I wanted to run for a charity I looked ahead at which charities I could choose from. During the Half Marathon I saw people running for veterans, animals, disabilities, and various devastating diseases. They were all very worthy and deserved all the support they could get, but Alex’s Lemonade Stand gave research grants to Canadian researchers, which was important to me. In some way, the money I raised had to have a chance to help in Canada. As soon as I read more about them, I knew they were a good fit for me and I was hoping I could raise the money I needed to. In total I needed to raise $1,900 US in eight months.
Dress the Fairy
I decided I had to make this fun for my friends and family to participate in. Just asking for money wouldn’t do. Since most people running Run Disney races participate in costume, I decided to let my friends and family play Dress the Fairy. I created a costume template and set a point amount for each element of the costume. Points were directly related to dollars raised. Here’s how it broke down:
200 Running Skirt
150 Sparkly Head Gear
130 Glitter Makeup
300 Sparkly Shoes
500 Head to toe in pink
When someone donated, they had to let me know where they wanted their points to go. They could put them toward the wings, or head to toe in pink, or any combination they wanted.
This worked because I’m not known as a wing/tutu wearing pink person who would be caught dead in a running skirt, glitter, and in particular… pink! Before this I owned nothing in pink. My mom says she dressed me in pink when I was a baby but that stopped when I got a voice and could dress myself. Using primarily word of mouth and Facebook I made regular posts with costume totals and had people encouraging others to ‘finish off the wings’, or ‘get pink handled’. If the costume elements weren’t finished by the time I left for California, the element wasn’t going to happen. My starting place was a black shirt and black capris. Gradually, it all came together and this fairy ended up a sparkled, winged, and tutued all in pink!
In total 60 people or groups (families / couples) contributed money toward my campaign, and countless others contributed cheering and support. It’s important to recognize that not everyone has money to spare, but it doesn’t mean they don’t support you. More often than not I’m the one who doesn’t have the money to donate. I am extremely grateful for those who supported me in all they ways they could, and some of those ways were financial.
Why it matters
Along the way I met people associated with Team Lemon who had lost children. A young boy in Kamloops passed away from a very long fight with cancer the week before I left for California. I passed people on the running route who had signs thanking people for running for charities. Other runners thanked me when they saw I was running for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. One woman cheering on the course, at a part that was particularly difficult (around 17 Km when it was hot and agonizing), had a sign that said, “I’m a cancer survivor, thank you for running for me!” Me being a bit hot or a bit sore for a few hours was nothing compared to what these families were going through for months or even years. It matters.
The day before the run Team Lemon runners at the event got an email from our coordinator thanking us for raising the money. As a team we raised $34,000 which we were told is worth over four months of research time. It matters.
I raised $2,060 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. I was absolutely floored by this and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me out. People I hadn’t talked to in ages jumped in to help. My family and friends really got behind it, which says a lot about the kind of people I choose to have in my life. I even had seniors in Logan Lake slipping me $20 dollar bills and whispering, “Put it on those wings, dear!”
Why is this crazy?
I had to put myself out there big time, I had to be in people’s faces trying to get them to donate money. I had to ask for help, and the risk of failure was very real.
I made it fun. I made it something original that my friends and family would be able to have fun with. If I had chosen blue I wouldn’t have raised as much because I wear blue all the time. I had to risk public humiliation. I even added that if I raised even one dollar over my goal I would spend one day in the Logan Lake Library dressed as the pink fairy.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely! I hope to keep finding new ways to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and other charities. It’s good for the soul and it can be fun if you let it.