The year was 2004. It was Christmas Eve and I was sick in bed with the flu with nothing else to do other than watch TV. I found myself transfixed with watching the videos of the tsunami disaster as they played over and over and over, but for some reason, I couldn’t—or wouldn’t—turn the television off. I had tears streaming down my cheeks and I wanted to jump on a plane to go over and help. I don’t know what I would have done; I’m certainly not trained in disaster relief. But I vowed that my personal donation of a few hundred bucks was not going to be all I did.
A few days later when I was feeling better, I went into my club, sat down with the manager, and told her what we were going to do: we were going to hold a Spinathon fundraiser for the tsunami victims, and we needed to act fast. Everyone who worked at that club was immediately on board and passionate about the idea, and we recruited many of the staff who worked at the hotel the club is attached to. We ended up raising $15,000 in three short weeks! We had more than enough volunteers, we got local sponsors, we had prizes for the fundraisers to incentivize raising even more money, and we had nearby clubs donating their bikes as well.
It was an amazing success for how quickly we threw it together. The next year Hurricane Katrina ravaged the southwest United States, and we duplicated our efforts and had a Mardi Gras–themed Spinathon, once again raising almost $15,000!
You can do this too! Whether you raise $500, $5,000, or $50,000 is not as important as just doing something, anything! I know you will find passionate people to help you in this goal.
Perhaps you do it with just your own class for a one-hour event, or you combine a few classes. Or, you pick a weekend day and assign a four- or six-hour time slot.
If you are going to do this with the most success possible, you’ll have to act fast. People are seeing the images on television and are moved to be a part of this. Believe me, that will die out quickly. It’s not that they don’t care; it’s human nature. But not only is the need great for this amazing country, it will also be very long-term.
Here are some tips to put together your own mini-cycleathon.
Click here to download the checklist.
What charity should you choose? It depends on what you want your money to support. I chose two charities for our Tsunami fundraiser. One was the American Red Cross for medical aid, and the other was the Rotary Club. One of our members was a Rotary member and contacted the Rotary International and they funneled 100% of the money to the local chapter to rebuild a school in a destroyed village. We liked being a part of a specific rebuilding project.
The immediate need is for medical supplies, food and temporary shelter. The need is deep and it will be for a long time. Long term need will be for housing, rebuilding schools and medical clinics, agricultural projects, infrastructure and so much more.
- The Dzi Foundation helps remote villages, many of whom are not receiving as much aid as elsewhere in the country. A local climber (here where I live in Vail), Jim Nowak, is the founder of this organization. This is where half of our funds raised at ICA will go.
- Doctors Without Borders
- Here are seven vetted charities doing relief work in Nepal.
- Julian Lennon will match all donations going to the White Feather Foundation.
- If you want to help the animals, world vets respond to the disaster in Nepal.
Thank you for being a part of this in any way you can, including spreading the word far and wide!