It’s not a million, but 7,900* comes pretty close. That’s if you’re using a measuring stick that also assesses commitment, fidelity, compassion and community. Because looking at the performance of the Wilton Cure-iors, in their communal first-year effort to raise money in the fight against pediatric cancer, you’d have to say we ran a million miles and back.
This was all for the campaign that Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation started for the first time this year, for September’s “Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.” The Foundation recruited teams and individuals to run or walk up to 100 miles each during the month in an effort to raise money donations as well as awareness. ALSF organizers hoped that if they could sign up 10,000 runners to run 100 miles each, they could reach a national collective goal of 1,000,000 miles run combined.
As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, the last “official” day in the month-long campaign, Wilton’s team of 90-plus members had run 7,900 miles and had raised more than $39,000–on paper, making them the number-one team in terms of total dollars raised nationally. Both numbers will definitely be greater than that when everything is said and done. Team captain, Jeff Snyder, a Wilton resident whose 12-year-old daughter, Kennedy, has been fighting spinal cord cancer for the last 10 years, said he was completely blown away by the results.
“It is inspiring–that’s the one word that sums up the feeling I have when I look back on the efforts of all the participants that have taken part in our month-long challenge. I want to thank them for positioning the Wilton Cure-iors as the number one fundraising team in the country. If you look at the teams that ran more miles than we did, it’s because they got pledges from entire schools and track teams. Ours were fought one mile at a time, one person at a time. But the biggest shout-out has to go to our supporters. Because of them, we are the number one team in the country and collectively our team will surpass $50,000 in donations. That’s right…$50,000.”*
The effort has shown the Snyder family that they and other families facing a child’s cancer diagnosis that they have the support of so many people they don’t even know.
“As a parent of a child battling cancer, you realize that you can’t go down this road alone. You need support from others to help carry you through the hard times, to cheer you on and motivate you to keep up the fight. We are so lucky to be here in Wilton. The passion, energy and words of encouragement have really raised our collective spirit. It really makes you feel that you not only have a fighting chance, but you have a good shot to beat this thing,” Snyder said.
There were countless examples, Synder said, of the kind of dedication and action that buoyed his spirits through the entire event. But one overriding thing made an impression on him.
“You know what’s incredibly humbling? The number of people that have reached out to me to thank me for this. I’ve heard people never thought they could achieve such strenuous goals, and they’ve pushed themselves these past few weeks to reach their own personal goals. To have a grassroots movement start like this, and just catch fire with so many people signing up and logging in a few to a hundred miles to hit the milestone that we have achieved is just incredible. Just this morning, I got a call from someone who decided to run to work today, the last day of the challenge. He felt so good, he kept running–and running. By 9 a.m., he logged in 13.1 miles–an entire half marathon. Just 30 days ago, his longest run was five miles. Wow!”
While the national campaign fell short of it’s own lofty million-mile goal in its first year, ALSF organizers were still pleased with the kind of effort they saw–in Wilton, across the U.S. and around the globe as well. “We’ve raised more than $300,000 to date, and logged more than 194,000 miles. I’m guessing we’ll see a jump Tuesday with people logging last minute miles. We plan to allow people to manually add miles until October 15 so they can get caught up,” explained Jenna Jackson, fundraising team manager at ALSF. What’s more, there were 4,789 participants, taking part from 50 states and even 18 different countries.
Snyder is already looking forward to organizing Wilton’s team next year. “I hope everyone is willing to come back to rise to the occasion and join me again in the 2014 Million Mile Run. Every September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month and it’s important to remember and educate others how under-funded this sector is. I would love to see our team grow even larger.”
Not bad for a first year. And for Wilton, it was better than “not bad”; it was extraordinary.
*The total number of miles and dollars raised by the Wilton Cure-iors will continue to grow, as soon as final miles are logged and the deadline for donations is reached. In addition, the final tally will reflect the dollar-for-mile match pledges by Snyder’s company, InspiraMarketing, and LogicSource, the Norwalk-based company owned by Wilton Cure-ior team member, Dave Pennino.