Living Giving: The Story of the 'Mile 7 Shirt'
[Editor’s Note: Excited by the submissions to the new Live It Award category in this year’s Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards program, we’ve decided to present the stories of those fundraising pros who are “living giving” by supporting charitable causes both in their professional and personal lives. Bryce Gaudian is development manager at Agilis Co. in Albert Lea, Minn. Got someone in mind? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Youth Villages, a Memphis, Tenn.-based national leader in helping children who struggle with the effects of abuse, neglect and trauma, has a highly successful running program for the children in its care. This is an account of how one lost shirt led to more than 5,300 (and counting) running shirts being sent from race directors on all seven continents to encourage and inspire the young runners at Youth Villages.
I’ve been running marathons for years as a St. Jude Hero to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Finally, in December 2009, I was going to run the actual marathon named for this epicenter of compassion — the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. Having raised close to $25,000 from hundreds of folks across the country for the event, I wanted to personally hand-deliver the money while in Memphis. Lori O’Brien, then a senior vice president at ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude, agreed to accept the funds on behalf of St. Jude the day before the marathon. Lori told me she would cheer for me at mile 7, her usual perch for watching the marathon.
The temperature forecast for race morning was 33 degrees, and although I’m a hardy Midwesterner, I planned on wearing my long-sleeve Boston Marathon shirt from 2008 underneath my St. Jude shirt. I told Lori since she would be cheering for me and that I would be sufficiently warmed up by mile 7, I would toss her my shirt for fun. She said she’d be ready for it and agreed to mail it back to me.