Wichita Runners Raise $2,000 for Hurricane Sandy Relief at a Run4NYC 5K

“I’ve think we’ve got something really special here in Wichita, Kevin.”

“I agree, Lacy. I think we really do.”

This was the opening conversation I had with GoRun Wichita, a running store, owner Kevin Swinicki as we took off for more miles this past Saturday morning. We had just completed a raffle and a fun run with about 250 people. The totals determined that the running community of Wichita had raised $2,000 for Hurricane Sandy relief. All of this took place with just three days notice, a push through social media, and a cause worth of running for.

Early last week DietsInReview.com’s managing editor, Brandi Koskie, asked me if I thought we could get runners to show up and participate in DailyMile’s #Run4NYC virtual race fundraiser. Knowing the good hearts that dwell in so many people I’ve shared the road with, I told Brandi that I thought many would show up to support such a worthy cause. With that belief, Brandi hit the ground running to secure funds. Within a day, she had been allotted $500 to donate to the effort, which would go to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Boldly we agreed that we’d attempt to get 200 people, that way DietsInReview could contribute $2.50 per person who showed to run with us. This news officially hit the public on Wednesday, giving runners three days notice for the event.

Before we knew it, the good people of GoRun Wichita joined our efforts and moved their Saturday running event to our location and offered up $500 worth of premium running gear for us to raffle off and use the tickets prices for more proceeds towards Sandy relief. Then the Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon offered up Gatorade for the runners and half-marathon race entries to be raffled off. We created a Facebook event, GoRun graciously contacted their mailing list and Facebook fans, and Prairie Fire reached out through Twitter and Facebook, and then we just became overwhelmed with the buzz that built.

Come Saturday morning, there was a bustling scene at Sedgwick County Park, the site of our event. Runners were filing in even before the sun came up, and our good deeds were rewarded with unseasonably warm temperatures in the low 60s. A line stretched way beyond the raffle table. We had once feared if we could even get 100, now we were hustling to accommodate the droves of runners wanting to sign in and donate toward the cause. Such a powerful sight.

Once the line had finally stopped growing and all who were wanting to buy raffle tickets and donate had been helped, it was time to run. Kevin Swinicki addressed the crowd that was estimated to be about 250 people. He then turned the attention to Brandi Koskie, who very emotionally thanked the runners and explained how DietsInReview’s headquarters is in Brooklyn and how this storm hit very close to home. After a very thoughtful and sincere address, the runners were ushered to the path to begin the 5k fun run for NYC. I jumped in with many familiar faces and enjoyed a beautiful run through the park. As I looked behind me, I saw nothing but runners who showed up to help because we asked to help those who were in need. The line of good hearts serpentined behind me as far as I could see. I will never forget that sight, ever.

We returned to the start to watch the lucky winners claim their prizes and learn of the fantastic numbers. DietsInReview had no trouble giving away their full $500 at $2.50 per person. And with the sales of raffles, runners brought in an additional $1500. With just three days notice and a few pushes on social media, Wichita runners donated $2,000 to assist those who were affected by the storm. We learned later that day that DailyMile had raised around $6,000 nationally from their promotion of virtual races. The efforts of Wichita runners were recognized by DailyMile as they raised such a huge percentage of that total.

I know I’m blessed to belong to the Wichita running community. They’ve helped me grow into something I never believed I could be. Clearly, they’re exceptional. Strong and good hearts seem to be the constant that I’ve encountered when it comes to runners and Wichita’s no exception. Thanks to all who joined us, and to those who’ve “virtually raced” around the country to support #Run4NYC.

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