Thursday, May 14, 2009

Passing the 40K Mark

If you run or speed walk marathons, reaching the 40K mark is a good feeling. If you “hit the wall”, by this time you have hit it back. If you have entered the “bite me zone”, you have already left that zone far behind. You have come about 24.8 of the 26.2 miles, and you know that 1.4 miles is something you do all of the time just to warm up.

I’ve crossed the 40K mark in all three of my marathons, and it always feels pretty good. But in the last couple of weeks, I crossed an even more important 40K mark – I’ve now raised more than $40,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society during my four events – marathons in Anchorage, San Diego, and Phoenix, and the half marathon this spring in Nashville.

People often think that I must be a pretty good fund-raiser, but I don’t feel that way. Except for the first year that I did TNT, I haven’t reached my fund raising goal any year. I always feel like I could have done a little better. In any event, it is really the generosity of people that I solicit funds from that gets the job done, not whether I am a good fundraiser or not. I do try hard, and work to come up with innovative notes to remind people of the cause. I never know for sure what works or what doesn’t work. I’ve written what I feel are some pretty good notes that get very little response. Others get good response. But in case they are useful to someone else, every one of my notes to potential donors for the last two seasons in on my blog.

It is funny thinking back to that time in 2005 when I was debating whether I could raise the minimum to race in Alaska: $5,000. How in the world could I raise $5,000? I don’t know rich people, or famous people. My family is not wealthy. I don’t party with the jet set or work out with world-famous athletes. I don’t vacation with the wealthy. I have no political power to promise access to someone in exchange for a big donation. You can read about some of my struggles with pondering whether to do it here. But I decided I had to try Team in Training. If I didn’t at least try it, how would I ever know if I could do it? I remember thinking “If I don’t at least try, I could be leaving $5,000 on the table that could go to cancer research.” As it turns out, I would have left $40,000 on the table, and I never would have known it. One of the mentors at that first meeting told me “You Can and You Will!” And as it turned out, I could and I did: through persistence and hard work and the generosity of so many people.

Even though I am no fund raising star, I always go into every event now absolutely confident that I will pass the minimum required. I will accept nothing less than this from myself. I set my goals a lot higher than the minimum, as I will the next time I do this, even if I don’t reach them. I start fund raising early, design a campaign around a theme (like this years presidential campaign theme), and do something every few weeks. I try not to take it personally if I get no response from many people, not even a “good luck”, who I know can afford a donation. It comes down to the intrinsic generosity of so many people, being willing to reach out to them, and believing in the cause and in myself.

Passing 40K feels pretty good. That money by itself won’t cure cancers, but it is step in that direction. I hope someday I will pass 100K – now that would be worth blogging about!


TNTcoach Ken said...

Bravo, Art you are a Superstar in my eyes!

Meaghan said...

So impressive! I need to start running, just so intimidating!!!

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Coach Ken, thanks Meaghan!

You can do anything, Meaghan. You are an awesome survivor who kicked cancer's ass!!!!!!!