“Be a Hero for the Homeless” Virtual 5k Walk/Run with Joshua’s House Hospice

One of the highlights of our 2020 was to try something different. Something that we’d never delved into before, and neither had our client, Joshua’s House Hospice (JHH). JHH is a nonprofit that will open in Spring of 2021, first as a smaller scale model program and then as a larger facility. It will serve terminally ill homeless men & women in Sacramento by providing shelter and hospice care. We’ve worked with the organization for some time, and they had intended to hold their 2nd Annual Sip, Savor, and Sway Gala as their major fundraiser. With live music, dancing, and prohibition-era theme, the event was highly anticipated by the organization’s sponsors & supporters.

Though COVID-19 became a concern early in the year, no one was sure what direction it might take and if it really would impact an event that wasn’t slated until December. However, once gatherings were canceled and venues such as the Sacramento Masonic Temple (where the event would have been held) were closed down, it was clear that if a fundraiser were to be held it would have to be a virtual one. With the few months remaining to plan, the gala going virtual just wasn’t an option. Therefore, several other ideas were discussed. Possibly an auction or a concert, and then it seemed that taking a more unique route was preferred. If we were going to pivot and do something so different, then it should appeal to a wider audience and to even those who hadn’t known of JHH previously.

In doing research, we found that virtual 5ks were a relatively new idea. What better way to get people involved than to allow them to participate in their own way? They could run indoors on a treadmill, outdoors as usual, they could even hike or walk, as long as they covered the 3.1 mile distance. Another aspect was that they could go the distance as a family, by themselves, socially distanced and masked with friends outdoors, and they could even set up virtual teams and challenge friends, family, and colleagues.

Next was to decide which platform we’d use to conduct the 5k. There are many out there and each have differences in the technology they offer and the fees charged – both of these things need to be taken into consideration before making a decision. Ultimately, we chose RunSignup.com as the features they offer, and costs were competitive. They also provide a support system for organizations that need help along the way.

So, at this point we were getting our ducks in a row and moving forward! The “Be a Hero for the Homeless” Virtual 5k Walk/Run was scheduled for Saturday, October 17. Participants could do their 5k and record it via RunSignup any time before midnight on that day. Each participant would receive a t-shirt and medal, and if they wanted a runner’s bib to wear, they could print one out from their online registration portal.

As we promoted the event, we ran into a couple of unanticipated happenings that seemed to slow down the registration process. The excessive heat in the months of August and September affected many who would have trained outdoors for the run. And then the weeks of compromised air quality due to smoke in the valley from wildfires proved to be a stumbling block. But all in all, we are happy to report that the inaugural 5k was successful. We had wonderful sponsors and 135 participants.

Our largest takeaway as with all of our jobs was what we’ve learned. The knowledge gained from each new endeavor is priceless!

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