Creating a mud run as a charity fundraiser is a large undertaking. As the Executive Director, I've started 6 months prior to the event to get all the pieces in place. It is my first large fundraiser, but logic dictates to delegate and break the event down into small manageable sections. Every new person I meet, I'm looking at in a whole new light. If the contact doesn't know the charity I work with, somehow the charity is brought up in conversation. It goes something like this, "Yeah, we live out on a horse farm. Oh, you like horses too. They are very relaxing to be around. Have you read about equine therapy? Yes, they are using horses to help veterans with PTSD. I know of a program called Veterans Art and Farm Therapy that lets mentally ill veterans and their families heal through farm and art activities for free." People seem eager to help out if they are just made aware that such a program exists.
Back to my timeline. Step one was to gather together a solid core team of supporters and give them tasks to complete. Next step is to write grants, fill out city permits, lay out a 5K course and solicit business support. These are things directors including myself must do for the event. The volunteers are doing things such as; making press release, webpage design for registration online, advertising using Facebook and social media, contacting food vendors, designing obstacle course ideas, and creating flyers. I found Google maps an excellent tool for laying out the course and measuring distances for the 5K. And it provides a nice accurate map of the 70 acre mud run location to give to the city officials.
Step three, emailing necessary city participates. The Suffolk Fire Department was a breeze. They agreed to come out with a simple email. The police haven't returned my email, maybe because I didn't dial 911 first. At the high school where I work as a teacher, I contacted the National Honor Society, ROTC and SCA for day of event support staff. The 50+ mud run student volunteers will act as parking attendants, water helpers, runners, trash collectors and obstacle attendants. And they were as easy as providing volunteer hours for the students. Remember, colleges like to see applicants participate in charity events.
Other volunteer sources contacted include Future Farmers of America, 4-H troops and local Boy Scout troops. These last three groups will be used for building obstacles in Feb-Mar, but have already been contacted so they can put it in their agendas.
We are using the resources that are accessible and available in our community to bring this event together. The Soil and Water Conservation District is providing swag to add to the registration bags. The Forestry Department is setting up a table and giving out small gifts. NAPA Auto Parts Beamon and Johnson Inc., is holding a raffle and the local Farm Fresh is providing water, just to name a few businesses eager to help.
The biggest thing to remember when making a public event is this...the Farm Mud Run isn't just a fundraiser. It is a social event to network and integrate the new charity into the community. It exposes us to the media, sponsors, and participates. It provides awareness for veterans with mental illness to read, see, and hear about our free program. Everyone can come out, see the animals, meet our volunteers, and have fun in our family friendly Farm Mud Run.