EVERETT — Grant Harrington found himself with a quandary.
The coronavirus-caused cancellation of running events meant Harrington, the owner of the Snohomish Running Company, watched as boxes of unused participation medals piled ever higher in his storage unit.
Then, Harrington turned his difficulties into a way to fund charities and recognize the health-care workers, first responders and essential workers who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
The Snohomish Running Company’s Run For Campaign encourages people to make a small donation to charity and have a medal sent to doctors, nurses and others to show appreciation for the work they’re doing during these unprecedented times.
“We have all these medals just sitting there in the storage unit collecting dust,” Harrington said. “I was like, OK, what can we do with these? Hey, why don’t we show these health-care workers and essential workers that we’re thinking about them and that we do care that they’re there.”
Harrington’s company organizes a number of running events in Snohomish and King counties throughout the year, all of which benefit charities.
So far four events had to be cancelled to comply with physical-distancing measures.
• The Everett Half Marathon, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, was scheduled for March 29 and had more than 900 runners registered.
• The Tenacious Ten, which benefits Girls on the Run of Puget Sound, was scheduled for April 11 in Seattle and had more than 1,400 runners registered.
• The Snohomish Women’s Run, which benefits Girls on the Run of Snohomish County, was scheduled for May 3 and had more than 800 runners registered.
• And the Enforcer 5K, which is done in conjunction with former Seattle Seahawks star safety Kam Chancellor and benefits Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, was scheduled for May 16 in Redmond and had more than 800 runners registered.
Not only are runners no longer able to participate in those runs, the charities those runs benefit won’t be receiving the money they expected. That’s had a profound effect on the charities. For example, Girls on the Run of Snohomish County, an after-school program designed to help girls in grades 3-8 make healthy life choices, had to cancel its entire 2020 program.
“I was looking at the extra medals in the storage unit and I had just got done talking to Kim Gaffney of the Mukilteo Boys and Girls Club,” Harrington said. “I was thinking about the things we could do to raise money and awareness of charities that need help. All the essential workers’ kids still needed to be cared for, especially with school cancelled, so the Boys and Girls Club was doing that, despite having to lay off staff. So we wanted to put two and two together.”
Thus the Run For Campaign was born. The company has 16 different medals and one cowbell from both cancelled and past runs that are available for a $10 donation. Snohomish Running will ship the medal, along with a note of appreciation, to the donor’s individual of choice. The full $10 goes toward the featured charity from the medal’s event, with the company picking up the shipping cost. oti
“I think it’s such a cool idea,” said Megan Wolfe, executive director of Girls on the Run of Snohomish County. “What a way to leverage supplies they have on hand and support critical work in the community.
“All the support right now feels extra good because I know businesses are hurting, too,” Wolfe added. “They’ve had to cancel events, and they’re still supporting their partners, which is huge. It speaks to the company.”
Harrington said that as of last Thursday about 100 medals had been shipped.
The added bonus from the Run For Campaign is the way it can serve as motivation for runners. Runners no longer have running events to target or running groups to join, and therefore they might not have the incentive needed to get out and put in the miles. This can be used as a motivational tool, getting people to go on runs and dedicating them to the medal recipient.
“With the Run For Campaign you can go out and run 3 miles or 2 miles or whatever you want,” Harrington said, “and you’re not running for yourself, you’re running for that essential worker who’s working at the hospital or delivering stuff.”
How to help
To participate in the Snohomish Running Company’s Run For Campaign and have a medal sent to the health-care worker, first responder or essential worker of your choice, visit the company’s website at snohomishrunning.com/run-for.
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