Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let the groveling and the training commence


Runners will know that saying as a frequently posted sentiment when trying to get into a coveted race or even just to report in for a training run.

I've been in many times, but never so IN as when I got my official news yesterday.

I WILL BE RUNNING THE 2014 BOSTON MARATHON as a charity runner for Team Dougie as part of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.

Regular readers of the blog will remember the trials and tribulations of this journey from earlier this year. You can find it here along with another article on the pros and cons of charity runners.

So, as I've said before...yes, I must be crazy because I campaigned to get this spot so I could do winter training and raise $7500+ all for the opportunity to run 26.2 miles in April.

Crazy or not, I'm anxious to get this party started!

So, for any of you so inclined, please see the link to my fundraiser page (on the logo below) along with frequently asked questions about charity runners and the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation.

What is a charity runner and how is it different from another runner?   
A charity runner agrees to raise money for a particular charity.  Many marathons have them and use them to support worthwhile organizations. Often, someone who didn't otherwise qualify or get into a certain race can gain entry through getting a charity bib. 

So did you qualify to run Boston?
Here is where I'm tempted to say, "Have you read the name of my blog?"  Seriously, I run as back of the packer trying to work my way up to being a midpacker but don't see it my future that I could "BQ."  I knew the only reasonable way for me to run Boston was to become a charity runner and so I began to pursue that quest several years ago. 

Why do you want to be a charity runner at Boston?  
First of all, I have a heart for charities and have played various roles in many community and church affiliated projects since becoming an adult.  I set my sights on running Boston 2014 when I first started running three years ago because it's "the race" to get into and I will turn 50 six days later.  What a better way to prove my physical and mental capacities than to willingly take on this challenge?  (I know...go back to the part about being crazy earlier in the blog.)

What was the application process like?
Long, nerve wracking and interesting.  As I said, I contacted Team Hoyt three years ago to check in about
the possibility of running for them.  Having very little knowledge about charity teams at that point, I thought all I pretty much had to do was ask and they'd say yes!  That's when I found out about bib distribution and the competition to get onto a charity team.  At that point, Kathy--the office manager and Dick Hoyt's wife--told me they weren't even sure Dick and Rick would be running Boston 2014 but to keep in touch. So I did.

On April 14 of this year, I started to send them an email inquiring about the status of next year's race and figured I'd let them get through this year first.  We all know what happened the next day on Boylston Street at the finish line of Boston 2013.

In future discussions with Kathy and by watching news media reports, I knew the 2014 race had unprecedented interest.  And, Kathy told me they first invite any former runners to run again with them and she doubted there would be a bib for me.  She did give me some advice about other charities to look at. 

So, how did you get to the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism?
After my conversations with Kathy, I decided to branch out and do some more investigation.  Through that process, I found many worthwhile organizations--many of which interested me. However, I  narrowed my selection down to two top choices, with the Flutie Foundation as my first choice team. The other team was for the Women's Lunch Place; they have a wonderful mission of serving homeless women in Boston and I loved my conversation with their marketing director.  Yes, I had to interview throughout this whole thing!   

To be "safe," I applied to several other teams which required an application and application fee. 

However, I opted for Team Dougie as my first choice because my 13-year old son has an autism spectrum disorder.  I knew my chances of gaining the support would be greater because of that connection.  

At some point, I plan to make an appeal for physical items the Women's Lunch Place could use, so stay tuned for that!

How much money do you need to raise?
As my previous blog indicated, as the number of interested runners increased, so did the expected dollar amounts.  Whereas there had been a $4,000 minimum in the past, it now increased to $7500.  Deep breath here.  I really had to assess whether or not I had confidence in my abilities to raise those funds before I totally signed on.  But, I did and I'm here. 

What happens if you don't raise the money?
There is this thing called a credit card they have on file and signed permission to charge me varying amounts along the way. Deep breath again.  I have certain dollar figures I have to raise by certain points or CHA-CHING!  (My husband was totally thrilled to hear that....not!)

What are you doing to raise the money?
My little brain with the big ideas has kicked in and I have all kinds of thoughts.  First, I am doing social media outreach (that's what the blog is part of) and I'm also reaching out to other friends, acquaintances, etc. for ideas about other fund raising ideas.  I'm only one person here, but trying to do my best to figure out which fundraisers might bring in the most funds for Dougie's Team.

Two ideas have really taken hold.  First, is the option for any donors who give $100 to have me wear a puzzle-pieced ribbon with their name (or the name of a loved one) on my back during the race. After the race, the donor will receive that ribbon and a bumper sticker that says, "I ran the 2014 Boston Marathon (on Linda Beck's back!)"  

Also, I am currently soliciting items for an online auction so stay tuned for more information on that!

Do you get your way paid for through these donations?
Short answer.  Nope.  I still have to pay my entry fee to the marathon, travel and lodging expenses. All the money I raise goes directly to the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.  Every penny.  

How reputable is the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation?
First, the John Hancock company receives the majority of charity bibs and they dole them out to other organizations.  Those organizations go through a rigorous selection process to be considered for bibs in the first place.  Additionally, the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation spends less than 10% of the funds raised on administrative costs and was recently recognized by Charity Navigator, America's larges and most-utlized independent evaluator of charities with their prestigious 4-star rating for good governance, sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.   Plus, it's got Doug Flutie at the helm (who will be a teammate by the way!)

What does the Foundation support?
From their mission statement:  The goal of the Flutie Foundation is to improve the quality of life for people and families living with autism. We are dedicated to increasing the awareness of autism and the unique challenges of families who are faced with it everyday. Our commitment is to support these families by helping them find the resources they need and by funding advocacy programs as well as educational, therapeutic and recreational opportunities. 

This extends to national levels including partnerships with many other notable autism organizations.  They also provide grants to organizations such as one in Arlington, VA that created a video based learning module for general and special educators to understand autism and use practical strategies in the classroom.  The learning module is available free on-line for all educators.

Anything else I need to know?
Wow--first of all, congrats for making it this far.  If there is anything I haven't covered that your inquiring mind would like to know, please ask in the comments section below.  If I don't know, I will find out!

How can I help?  
A donation is any amount would be outstanding, although I very much realize not everyone has money in their budgets to give.  If you would like to and CAN give, great! If not, but you'd still like to support my cause, please forward this blog and like my page on Facebook for updates.  You can also share those updates as well.  Or, let me know if you or your business has any fundraising ideas or grants.  Last, just say some prayers for this journey that I am able to meet my fundraising and training goals.  (And, if you can do all three--AWESOME!)

Catch you later at the back of the pack!


  1. Best of luck!! You will get there. Also consider doing an on-line party through Silpada, 31, Tupperware, I can't think of any more. Also many local restaurants offer a % of the take for the night when you have people state they are eating there for a specific charity. I think some chains do it to. Generally it isn't a big going out to dinner night, a Tue/Wed/Thur. Friends and family are good to and ask if they will forward on your donation request. Also, virtual races, another good one.

  2. Thanks for the ideas! How do the virtual races work?

  3. Yay, Linda! I'll make a donation after I post this and will make a plea on my Facebook page. I'll also post on the FB page Women's Running Club in a few days (someone else recently asked for donations so that's why I'm waiting). If I think of other ideas, I'll let you know. When I did TNT a couple of years ago, I had the big gulp as I wrote down my CC number, knowing I might have to spend a couple of thousand. But my team members promised they would help and some generous friends came through so I'm visualizing and doing what I can for you.

  4. Thanks SO very much! Your donation and support means a lot!