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When I decided how I would fundraise for my family friend (learn more about her here), I had to actually go ahead and organize an entire 5k.
My parents were immediately on board, and soon I was making naïve and far-fetched predictions. Reality took over about the time my parents told me I had to use my own money and thus began the process of sponsoring. Several times a week from August until October I would roundup a couple of my friends, put on nice clothes, get the ever-ready stack of pamphlets and flyers, and head out. I am proud to say we went to every single non-fast food business within a 2 mile radius of my house, and over a hundred in the surrounding areas. We created a marketing strategy, revisited the businesses who said “maybe,” and we raised $2000 to cover all of our expenses. By the time I was done, I couldn't walk down the main street of my town without bumping into someone who gave or at the very least heard my sales pitch. Besides this feat, I found that organizing a 5k was more effective than any school course. I learned the basics of Excel budgeting, website design, t-shirt production, and ad-creation, how complicated the permit system is, and what Memorial Sloan Kettering fundraising rules are. On the weekends, I attended 5ks to hand out flyers and make announcements, and during practices I pestered my cross country teammates to run. I filled out a dozen forms on running websites so they would advertise my event for free, and I harrassed the local newspaper editor (Thank you Mr. Zavalick!) until he wrote a notice about the 5k (we headlined the second time). When our main sponsor, Jeevy’s Computers, created signs for us my mom and I drove around local towns for hours sticking all 32 of them in the ground, carefully marking where we put them.
For all my attention to detail, I did miss a few things. Primarily, the date I chose was awful. November 9th was splat in the middle of the annual Teachers Convention, which was during a four day weekend where many went away. In addition, there was a 5 and 10k two towns over that draws 2,000 runners every year and that has been established 30 years before. My budgeting, though pretty good for an 8th grader could have used improvement, and juggling schoolwork with other afterschool activities limited my time.
Despite these flaws, on November 9th, we had 81 total 5k registrants, 21 walkers, 25 volunteers, 12 carnival games, and a Tug-o-War battle. There was a popcorn machine, pastries, fruit and bars, and over $300 in prizes. I think I can do better. This year, with the help of sponsors and the people in my community, I hope to almost double the amount given to $5000, or $7000 with expenses*. In 2014, $2,750 went directly to Dr. Paiek’s lung cancer research, and best of all, the woman I wanted to help was pleased. She continues to fight cancer, but she also continues living. I like to think that I made and can make more of a difference, and I have a feeling I need to do a lot more legwork.
* Later edit: In 2015, the Legwork for Lungs 5k raised over $7,000, donating about $5,500 to Dr. Paik's research.
Why a 5k? And why the Word Legwork?
The noun legwork can have two definitions. The obvious definition is that your legs are working, which tends to happen when you are running a 5k.
The second, more clever definition of legwork is, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, “(noun): active physical work (as in gathering information) that forms the basis of more creative or mentally exacting work”. A prime example of this is a detective going around to suspects, or doing the legwork, to determine who committed the crime. As runners, we are doing active, physical work that will raise money for lung cancer research, or form the basis for the mentally exacting work that is research.