Story of the 4th Annual Worldwide 24-Hour Runathon to Raise Awareness and Money for Health and Giving – 8/25/13

Every year is an adventure.  And a gift.  A blessing.  Every day, really.  Every hour.  Every minute.  Such is life.  And Sunday, August 25, 2013 was no different.  The whole day, midnight to midnight.  Every hour.  Every minute.  An adventure, a gift, and a blessing, as we ran all 24 hours to help everyone in the world become more aware of their health, and of giving.  And to raise money for numerous causes.

But the adventure did not start at midnight on 8/25/13.  The Annual Worldwide 24-Hour Runathon to Raise Awareness and Money for Health and Giving occurs every year, and preparations have already begun for the 5th Annual on Saturday, August 23, 2014.  The more participation that we have throughout the world on that day, and in preparation of the event throughout the year, the more we can help the world with this unique and potentially powerful tool.  So please let us know how you are ready to commit to helping!  In the Milwaukee, WI area we are running a loop by Bradford Beach, with a main meeting place with parking, bathrooms, food/water, etc. to make it easier for the Organizer, but also for all those participating.  And – especially – to make a bigger impact on the observers, for that is the whole purpose of the event!

Please help spread the word:

1) Click following link to Facebook Event.  https://www.facebook.com/events/171581433038938/?context=create

2) Click “Join” on the upper right.

3) Then click “Invite Friends” on the upper right to inform ALL of your Facebook friends.

This past year a volunteer, Alex Lutze, helped get media attention for the event, which did result in more of the general public knowing what we were doing, and why.  This year we hope that many more TV stations, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, running groups and stores, non-profits and businesses, websites, blogs, twitter tweeters, facebook posters, and other people do even more to inform our 7,000,000,000 human family members what we are doing, and – most importantly – why we are doing it.  This is not a running event.  Running is the tool.  The mission is increasing the global consciousness of health and giving.  And raising money for whatever cause the fundraiser or donor chooses.

Another volunteer, Justin Houck, created a registration form through the “Runathon” tab of www.theGIVEshirt.com.  Please click the following link and “Register Now” – it’s FREE!  http://www.thegiveshirt.com/?p=770  This helps us better track who is participating throughout the world, and exactly what they are doing.

Yet another volunteer, Kurt Owens, helped plan, shoot, view, and edit video footage and created 2 short video clips, and a short documentary about the Runathon.  Please click the following link to watch them, “like” them, “share” them, and subscribe to theGIVEshirt.com’s youtube account so you can be notified each time we post a video!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO-7c9ZsrTA&feature=share&list=PLueLS0dmk1DTmoUorPTXf6y5_OX2iJGkp

Shaunie Franke, another volunteer, helped sort through email contacts to send out email notification of the event.  Volunteer Ryan Treviranus helped create the more efficient and effective newsletter.  Jon Tran helped spread the word via twitter.  Fransisco Torres donated use of the support bike, and Ray Hentschke rigged it with the sign.  Others committed to ride the support bike or run throughout the day, and gathered others to likewise join us.  The list of preparations, and fellow volunteer team members who performed the tasks, goes on.

The GIVE shirt movement is 100% Volunteer-Operated!  So anything that is done, is done by volunteers.  Nobody gets paid to do anything.  So the more committed, responsible volunteers we have, the more we can help this world.  We sincerely hope you seriously consider joining us!

Since theGIVEshirt.com is also an entirely non-profit charity, and we give 100% of proceeds to numerous other charities, we also GREATLY appreciate all of our sponsors.  The following list includes some major sponsors of this year’s Runathon.

The North Face – Provided Dri-Fit T-Shirts ***Unisex and Womens (Normal, Runathon Logo, or Spanish).
Starbucks – Gave coffee, mugs, etc. ***available for donations.
Noodles – Gave group meals for Volunteers/Participants, and free meal cards ***available for donations.
Vitamix – Donated AMAZING Vitamix blender.
Nuun electrolytes – Provided tablets.  ***Tube of 12 available for only $6 donation (Lemon-Lime or Tri-Berry).
Footlevelers Orthodics – Donated pair of orthodics.
Alliance Packaging Group – Donate ORGANIC, Natural Lip Balm, Sun Block Face Stick and Lotion, Anti-Chafing.
bluepearlhealth.com – Donated guidance and mineral samples.

Milwaukee Community Acupuncture – Donated Initial Session.  ***Available for only $20 Donation.
Ben’s Cycle – Donated tune-ups for training and support bike.

Thank you!

So on to the running!  For the months, weeks, and especially days leading up to the big physical portion of the event – actually running the full 24 hours – an almost overwhelming amount of tasks made it difficult to attain ideal sleep, food, hydration, etc.  After spending several hours in the late afternoon with extended family for a niece’s birthday party, I left it early to take a nap and pack up all the clothes, food, drinks, lights, gps watches, supplements, bags to carry them in, etc.  At 11pm, while driving to the start/finish home base, I took video to capture with images along with the words what was going on.  Something I would continue to do every few hours throughout the next 24 hours.

When I got to the home base, it was time to rig the bike with the food and drinks, make some adjustments to the sign, lights, and bag, etc.  We never know how many people throughout the world are running – or doing something active – on this day every year, and who they are telling about it, how much money they are raising and for whom, etc.  But I am not yet aware of anyone else who has run the full 24 hours.

It was about 1:00am by the time we were actually able to start running.  And I began alone.  Some last minute changes with participants had me making many phone calls, sending texts, and figuring out what to do, while making sure not to get hit by any late Saturday night drivers – whether drunk or not.  I was running downtown where it was busiest to inform and influence as many people as possible, since that is the purpose of the Runathon.  But because I had to use the phone so much for re-planning, I was not able to carry the hand-held sign that still survives from the first year.  And I was running by so many people – who had no idea who I was, nor what I was doing, nor why.  So I realized; we had to get someone to ride the support bike – which carries the sign – ASAP!

Running 24 hours is challenging enough.  Doing everything else required of the person who simultaneously organizes the event is the real adventure!  The first year I ran alone for about an hour due to an injury also taking away her un-injured counter-part.  The second year I was alone for the first 7 hours, and the last 4.  The third year I was never alone outside of a flat tire before the next participant arrived, and the final half hour, which was by choice.  One of many things I had come to learn is that it is much easier to run 24 hours, and especially carry the necessary food, drinks, sign, etc. and otherwise simultaneously organize such a unique event, with the help and physical presence of others!

While I was otherwise fine being alone for the first couple of hours, I knew that without the sign, the mission was not being as well achieved.  And rather than waiting for the next participant to catch the bus, and then ride it all the way downtown, I figured out how we could begin getting people’s attention sooner.  I would mount the bike and ride it to him!  So I did.  One of several unexpected firsts in this grand adventure.  I never would have expected that I would be riding a bike during the 24-Hour Runathon!

By the time I got there the bars were closed and most of the people had gone home.  At the least we impacted 1 intoxicated college student who ran with us for several blocks, if he remembers it.  So Justin Houck and I again headed south to Oak Creek where we were to meet Mike Thompson and Michael W. around 8am.  We took video clips for the documentary, including Justin describing why he has remained involved in the GIVE shirt movement for over a year now.  Fox 6 TV News arrived around 4am just before their night shift ended, after covering all of the violence around town.

After the sun had risen I noticed the back tire on the seldom used bike looked a little flat.  We did have quite a bit of weight on there with the sign, drinks, and food.  I decided it would be better to blow it up now than let it get flat and thus potentially damaged.  When it wouldn’t take air I noticed that the tube had a leak.  (Yes, here I was again with another first – on my back during the 24-Hour Runathon fixing a bike tire.)  I then learned that the patch would fix the tear on the hose of the tube, but it wouldn’t fit back through the hole of the wheel.  I also discovered that the portable battery charger wasn’t working.  So I brainstormed with Justin what to do, and made calls until we realized that Mike W. could get a tube at Wal-Mart on his way.

Fortunately Justin stayed later than anticipated and sat with the bike and supplies while I found a place to charge the phone on a tiny ledge above the freezers in the gas station, which I reached with a step ladder.  Eventually I was able to run out and back from where the bike was down for an hour or so, as Mike W. arrived about 2 hours later.  When he did arrive I found that Justin had left and I needed to stop running again to put the new tube in, and reload/pack the bike, sign, bag, etc.  Finally, after about a 3 hour delay, we were again moving.  Mike Thompson was on his way to meet us, and did minutes later.  Now we had 2 bikers to help bring attention and carry stuff!

So while I was re-planning the route and communicating with everyone about the changes of plan, and coordinating the other TV stations that were hopefully still coming, I realized that the bikers were no longer behind me!  I looped back to find out that the bike had lost a bolt and the sign/bag were rubbing against the tire.  It was again laying on the ground – about 2 blocks from where it had laid for the previous 3 hours.  And I was laying on my back in the dirt yet again, too.  I spent about half of the next hour trying to figure out what to do, looking for the bolt, etc.  Since Mike Thompson had not yet returned from the store where he had gone to buy another one, and the store was only a few blocks away, I ran there.  I arrived to find no Mike, and a “CLOSED” sign.  Directions were confused and he was still riding east toward the lake!  I gave him clear directions to another store.

Yet another somewhat expectable, but totally unexpected significant delay.  Not having spare batteries for the light that went out the night before was no problem because we had multiple lights.  But this could not be so easily resolved because we didn’t have more bolts… or did we?  I suddenly realized when yet again down on my back in the dirt analyzing the situation that the bolts intended to hold the water bottle cages in place could be the same bolts that held the rear luggage rack on.  And they were!  So I began bike repair number 2.

We were off again minutes later.  Mike W. needed to leave earlier than expected, and since he was riding the support bike with the sign and supplies, the next rider needed to find transport to meet us to prevent us from being stalled yet again.  My mom and sister brought my brother-in-law to take over.  We resumed taking video of different aspects of the Runathon, and the GIVE shirt movement in general.  And the perspectives of the different participants, many of whom are also volunteers of the movement.  And enjoyed the beautiful sunny, hot day.  Previous years we had done it 1.5-2.5 months later, and it had been cold, and rained every year.

I felt great, and was happy to be moving again.  We arrived at the next meeting point where most of my family was gathered, and immediately began running around the house with the five 2-6 year-old nieces and nephew – a ritual they love doing with Uncle Tommy.  And one which I love more than any of us realize.  After the transition to new bikers and runners we were off again.  With the little ones’ desires to run, bike, scoot, etc. with us, we sometimes only made it a block or two before turning around to take the next little one back that wanted to switch mode of transportation, or just be done.  Gotta appreciate their heart.  Kids are so magnificent.  I’m really excited to help the world maintain more of our innate and natural purity, love, cooperation, inclusion, etc. as we become adults.

We now still had 2 bikers, and a group of runners.  Fransisco, Jenny, and Alex with his mom and brother.  Then new biker, Tina Martin, owner of Orange Shoe Fitness in Whitefish Bay, arrived.  Mike Thompson left after about 6 hours.  Sami was running with us as she has every year.  Kurt Owens was spotted up ahead behind the video camera, and even ran more than a mile with us this year.  His first time running since childhood!  Ray Martinez beeped the horn, and followed us for miles taking pictures.  WTMJ 4 TV News shot some footage and did an interview, as did CBS 6 TV News.  And after 18 hours I was still feeling great.

Then the heat started to finally catch up with me.  I began to feel sluggish for the first time.  A bit tired, slower, tight.  I knew I needed something, but I didn’t know what.  I had been drinking plenty of water with the Nuun electrolytes, and eating energy/protein exercise food, and drinking Raw Meal powder.  I had even rested for a few minutes in the cool basement of my sister’s house when I began feeling a little dizzy from the heat earlier.

Tina faithfully stayed with me, and I rejuvenated with some food and a quick Epson salt bath at the home base while I ate.  I was now heading back out alone, and Ray Hentzche – who has ridden the support bike every year – was to join me later for the final couple of hours.  So this was my real test.  I was tired, felt drained of energy, my body hurt, I was alone, and all I wanted to do was lay down and rest.  Instead I remembered the words of a 9 year-old friend who missed joining us because of our delays and route change, and my 4 and 6 year-old nieces: “Never give up.  Don’t stop; don’t give up!”  They say that they learned those principles from me.  It was time to put them to use.  Time to walk the talk, practice what I preach.  And I started moving.

I walked at first.  I told myself that I could at least walk.  And if I couldn’t walk anymore, then I could lay in the grass.  But I knew from previous experiences that I likely would begin to gain energy again eventually, and be able to jog.  Which I did.  Still, it was a welcomed treat when Ray arrived.  A distraction… and a good friend.  I always say I am doing awesome, whether to myself, or to others when they ask.  Because I choose “how” I am doing.  And that’s how I prefer to be doing, regardless of what’s going on.  But, at the same time, I sure recognize how much even better I feel, and how much even better life is when shared with those family and friends that are even closer and more dearly loved, appreciated, and treasured than the other members of our grand global human family.

The last hour I felt strong.  Worn, but steady.  I thought, “I must be running about a 10-minute mile.”  A glance at the GPS watch revealed 13:00.  I guess the tight, stiff, sore, tired, heavy legs were not able to stride as far as normal.  On the final stretch we saw a deer in the silent, still night.  Across the road, just outside the tree line, with downtown’s tall buildings towering in the background.  As we approached the deer didn’t even move, not until I was about 5 feet away.  Amazing.  By far the closest I have ever been to such a free animal.  She knew that we, too, are all members of the same family, and all in this together.  Caring for our health, and giving, involve caring for all life, including the environment, and this planet Earth, for all is a gift, a blessing – every day, every hour, every minute…

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