Fundraising and donating to local charities and causes has always been one of the qualities that makes Durango such a special community to be a part of.
During my 10 years on the board of the Durango Running Club (formerly Durango Motorless Transit) it was gratifying to share the proceeds from our races with the community through local charities and the Marc Witkes Fort Lewis College Cross Country Scholarship.
The current board of directors and race directors are still committed to fundraising and continue to expand the scope of their donations to many local nonprofits.
The Kennebec Challenge has supported La Plata County Search and Rescue since 2001, so when Gail Harriss took over in 2011 she continued that tradition.
“La Plata County Search and Rescue is a perfect fit for our race,” said Harriss. “We need their volunteers to ensure the safety of the participants. I would not feel comfortable putting on the race without them.”
This year many of the other core volunteers for the Kennebec Challenge were unavailable. “I decided to actively seek out another beneficiary organization who would also help recruit or provide volunteers,” said Harriss.
With a connection from a running friend she came up with the Durango-based Shanta Foundation, which is currently raising funds to build a school in Myanmar.
Partnering is a win-win solution for both the nonprofits involved and the race directors as they scramble to cover all the details of putting on races.
Matthew Krichman, race director for the Turkey Trot, Steamworks Half and the Thirsty 13, sees the value of partnering.
“I think it’s a great model for large events where lots of volunteers are needed,” said Krichman.
Krichman hasn’t had to partner yet as he gets enough volunteers through the running community for his races.
“There’s something really nice about just donating money to a good cause and not expecting anything in return,” he noted.
Brendan Trimboli, who recently took over as race director for both the Narrow Gauge runs and the Durango Double, inherited the beneficiaries with the races.
Some of the proceeds from these races were determined by the group’s involvement as volunteers, referring mainly to the Women’s Resource Center which provides volunteers and benefits from the Durango Double. “I felt they earned those funds through their selfless commitment of time,” said Trimboli.
Sometimes race directors have a more personal reason for choosing beneficiaries. “I committed a small donation (from Narrow Gauge) to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation,” Trimboli said of the national nonprofit committed to finding a cure for ocular melanoma. The disease, while rare, has struck close to home for Trimboli.
As an animal lover Krichman chose the Humane Society as one of his beneficiaries. “I am so grateful for the amazing work that the folks at the Humane Society do.” he said.
“As a runner, I often find myself picking races based on the beneficiary,” said Trimboli. “I like to see race proceeds going to causes that have local impact.”
Said Krichman: “I think people feel really good knowing their participation in a race helped support a really good cause.”
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.