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Head of the Charles Regatta

19 Oct

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The Head of the Charles Regatta is a yearly rowing event happening every October.

It is coming up this weekend and I read a good article in the Boston Business Journal  about the logistics involved in this huge event.

Like many once-a-year fundraising events – little seeds must be planted all year-round so they all bloom on event day. It was interesting to see the numbers needed to make this regatta safe and fun for everyone:

2,260 boats

10,600 athletes representing 28 countries  (I cannot event begin to comprehend the travel and lodging logistics involved for this!)

4,000 proposals to get 100 in-kind and media partners

Six full time staff

Race committee of 12

85 on the race operations team

2,000 weekend race volunteers

And the volunteers get down vests!

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This is an outdoor event, which means the most important number of ONE belongs to Mutha Nature.

She determines if you will have a sunny day with thousands of observers lining the Charles River drinking and walking and socializing. If it is a rainy day, then the observers are reduced exponentially and are mostly huddled in their respective collegiate and rowing club tents just drinking. How do I know this?

Once upon a time when I was much younger and did not have my weekends obliterated with driving my kids (Fire and Gasoline) around to their activities – I used to love attending the Head of the Charles. Before I was a WalkathonMaven, I would walk up and down the three-mile course on the shores of the Charles watching the crowds and wondering how the rowers did not hit the bridges, or the other competitors with their boats.

Ahhhhh. Memories.  Best of luck this weekend and may Mutha Nature smile upon you!

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Rio Poncho Peeps point the way

7 Aug

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If you watched the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics on Friday night, you saw a few people steal the show from the athletes.

My favorite, of course, was the flag-bearing, greased up (coconut oil or insect repellent?) man from Tonga.image

Second fave was the dancing neon-arrow-poncho-wearing volunteers lining the path borders to help direct the athletes along the way.image

As a logistics lover, I applaud the creative way that the event organizers combined the use arrows and volunteers to move the athletes along during the opening ceremonies. Perhaps we will see more events request that their volunteers wear the directional signage, instead of holding or posting the arrows.

When I was a walk manager, we would recruit route marshals to provide a safety necklace around the walkathon route. They would stand at any place along the route where a walker would have a choice of making a right or left turn.

These route marshals were an essential part of the event logistics. They could multitask as a directional, motivational and education piece of the event logistics cog.

I think that wearing an arrow is a lot more fun than holding an arrow. The volunteers will then have their hands free to hold a megaphone, whistle or other noisemaker. Looking forward to seeing how future events will morph this arrow-apparel and make it a part of their walkathons!

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In case of emergency… 5 things to know

14 Jun

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What Would You Do?

WWYD if the unthinkable happens at your walk?  You plan plan plan all year ’round for the one day. The one day when thousands of walkers come to your event with good intentions for a great day supporting a cause they care about.  You have your spreadsheets and volunteers ready to rock. And then…

There are many things that are unpredictable – like Mutha Nature, toddlers with hard objects and ding-dongs with assault rifles.

Sadly, the Orlando shooting tragedy makes me once again think of what I would do to prepare for a similar situation at a walkathon.  I wrote about this four years ago and I’m sharing it again with hopes it can help someone.

The below was previously published in August, 2012.

The recent tragic events in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater made me think of how random, senseless actions can ruin lives.   Several hundred people were guests of a theater to watch a midnight premiere of a movie only to have it end violently 20 minutes into the show.

We all see the pre-movie instructions of where the emergency exits are located, and to walk, don’t run to them in case of emergency.

Those instructions on the screen are part of the theaters’ emergency plan.

What is your event emergency plan?   How will you handle things when the unthinkable happens?

If you have 50 or 50,000 guests (walkers) at your walkathon, how will you take care of them if a crisis happens?

I have managed events where crazy-crowd-control issues have arisen.   From angry bee swarms stinging moving objects to gang fights (knives included).  Public spaces invite public issues.

Your primary goal on event day is to take care of your guests.  Make sure the day is safe, fun, and SAFE.

If your peeps do not feel safe, and are not having fun – they may not return.

And we all know it costs more to find a new donor than to hold onto a current one.

Be ready to handle the unthinkable, so that the headlines in the paper the next day reflect your wonderful event instead of a logistical horror show.

Here are five tidbits (of many!)  to put on your radar as you prepare your emergency procedures

1.   Start by asking the owner (City? State?) of the event location what their evacuation plans are in case of emergency.  You do not want to supersede anything already in place.

2.   Meet with law enforcement (hired police detail) and first responders to determine how they will carry out the evacuation plan.

3.   Schedule a pre-event coordinator meeting (volunteers, staff, etc..) so everyone is aware of the emergency procedures and other logistical items.

4.   Determine who will talk to the press.  Messaging is important!

5.   Create a constituent communication plan so you can quickly post, tweet, text or call your team leaders to advise them.

Remember – this is just a part of a VERY long list.  These should get your thinking started.

If you have a good relationship with your walkers, then getting in touch with them should be easy.

Follow up with them to ensure they are OK, and advise how to go about sending in any remaining donations.

Take care of your Walkers, and they will take care of you and your organization.

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The 8-foot Egg Peddler

24 Mar

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Sit on my lap for $8. $10 if you want a photo.

 

The mall squatting Easter Bunny.  A shopping symbol of Spring and all things pastel.

When I was at the mall and saw the Easter bunny rise up to take a break, I was surprised to see how tall he/she was. Almost eight feet tall!  The size of this candy-pushing hare reminded me of an ‘incident’ at one of my walks when a company sent their 8-foot inflatable mascot to pass out candy to thousands of walkers.

These visibility-stealing guerrilla marketing techniques are a big no-no and need to be shut down immediately so that they do not steal visibility and messaging.

Your sponsors pay a lot of money for the opportunity to be a partner with your organization and be seen as a leader in the community on the issue. Part of the package is having visibility at your event on signage and possibility a piece of real estate, like a table or a tent.  It’s not fair when someone gets the visibility for free.

So, how do you shut down an 8-foot confection-distributing-visibility-suck at your walkathon?  Make a scene and tell them to leave?  Take a lighter to the costume and see if it meets any fire-retardant guidelines? Nope. You don’t want to be forever known as “that girl” who booted the beloved gigantic peddler of sweet meat.

Instead, we approached the enormous inflatable with a puncture tool (just kidding) and suggested that they move along the walk route, sharing their tooth-rot nuggets along the way.  Fantastic!  Our sponsors were happy to get them off the main event oval where thousands were congregating – and the 8-foot monstrosity left the area surrounded by the same 20 people as they happily walked the route together.  Ta Da!

I wonder if the same amount of kids freak out sitting on the Easter Bunny’s lap that lose it sitting on Santa’s lap.

Perhaps the kids know that there are chocolate eggs in it for them instead of a stale candy cane.

Hoppy Easter!

 

 

My Easter addiction

My Easter addiction

 

Logistics Lessons with Tents and Tornadoes

12 Jan

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How do you weight your tent so it does not fly away?  Let’s find out.

I was visiting my mom last weekend and we checked out the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts happening downtown. Over 300 exhibitors were there and they all had tents. 10x10s. Side by side for blocks. Awesome.

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This Art Fest was a crack den for my mom and she made it rain purchasing all kinds of yard art. I loved accompanying her and since I am an event junkie, I took photos of different tent weights (no stakes allowed since it was on a street) during our stroll. I had no idea that these photos would come in handy later that evening, when an F2 tornado blew through the area around 7pm that night. This blog writes itself sometimes!!IMG_1592

I looked on the Facebook page of the art fest Sunday morning and read that there was some damage done by the tornado, and the Rotary volunteers worked all night to clean up.

We went back to the art fest Sunday morning, so Mom could pick up “just one more thing.”  Some of the tents and exhibitors were missing, and we asked about them. Turns out one of the tents that was weighted, collected a lot of water on the roof which then dipped down into the center. The wind came under and picked the whole thing up and carried it about 20 feet.  It landed onto another exhibitor tent.  A few other unweighted tents were also lifted up from the wind. No idea how much they lost. We saw a few vacant spots on the pavement. Sad.IMG_1602

While walking around on Sunday morning. many exhibitors had their front tent flaps down and were drying off their merchandise.  I’ll call them lucky since they had a tent and some merchandise left. Some of the exhibitors I spoke to said they did take down their artwork and packed it at night.  Others told me they left some heavy items hanging on the walls and put away the rest.

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So what to do when you have tents at your walkathon and there is potential for inclement weather?

The weather forecast on Saturday had a significant potential for rain that night. They certainly did not expect a tornado. I’m not sure that staking a tent into the ground would have worked here. I’m not sure attaching weights would keep a tent from flying away that night either.

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PVC pipe filled with cement and a sandbag

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cement-filled PVC pipe with caps and screw-eyes

This tornado touched down few blocks north of the art fest.  If an EF2 tornadowind is up to 135 MPH, then something close to that must have been blowing near this event. I’m can only imagine if this was a direct hit.

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When I was a walkathon manager, we would always setup as much as possible the night before (tents, tables, chairs, merchandise) so that we could show up in the weeeee hours the next morning to finish preparing for the walk.

The lesson I learned here for night-before-setup is to place important things low to the ground (on a tarp) under the tent. Surround this with the flat tables and chairs. If you rented tent flaps, then put them down for the evening. This should help prevent too much damage if heavy winds or rain comes that night.  Your tent company may have some suggestions since they do not want to lose their merchandise either.

The good news is that there were no injuries from the tornado and my Mom is giddy with her new yard art purchases.

 

 

Walking On Deck for a Cure

12 Aug

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Walkathon on a cruise ship – why not? Great idea!

Our family recently went on a cruise, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a walkathon was happening while on board!  We received a flyer in our stateroom promoting the “On Deck for a Cure” walk that raised money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

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WalkathonMaven was intrigued, and checked out the logistics of the event.

 Walkathon Route – Promenade Deck! One mile around = 2.5 laps. All right turns. No police needed for street crossings!

Registration – Wheelhouse Bar on Deck 7. Each participant is asked to contribute a minimum of $15 that will be charged to the onboard account. No money handling! Participants received an “on Deck for a Cure” baseball cap and refreshments.

Transportation/Parking – none needed! Participants are culled from GenPop. GenPop is jailspeak, I hear,  for General Population, but you know what I mean!

Entertainment – none. This tradeoff with the ability to walk with an alcoholic umbrella drink makes up for it.

First Aid – onboard infirmary

Snacks and refreshments – Deck 15 buffet!

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So where does the money go? I found that Princess Cruises and Komen have had a partnership since 2007, and The Foundation donates 75 percent of each registration fee to Komen for the Cure, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $450,000 through 2014.

The crew was unable to tell me how much was raised during our voyage. It appeared that several dozen people took part in the walk. I watched them while sitting and sipping inside the Fusion nightclub during the afternoon bingo session. (I lost – again.)

The Princess Cruises Community Foundation website noted the response from passengers was nothing short of amazing. Over 11,000 vacationers spent a portion of their holiday time on board walking in support of breast cancer research.

I applaud the cruise line for doing a charitable good deed with a captive audience at sea! Our cruise was to Alaska and I highly recommend this for your family. Go see the glaciers before they are gone!

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What’s your sign?

17 Jun

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I love a good outdoor event. I love a good outdoor event with plenty of potties. I love it even more when I see some reaalllllly bad logistical decisions, which gives me things to write about.  Lucky you! I was at my daughters lacrosse jamboree last weekend (she scored a few times – thank you!) and came across these signs:

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The tent offenders can probably plead ignorance since the signs were barely visible, barely readable and were randomly placed.  Here are some sign suggestions from the Walkathon Maven:

  1. Use large, bold letters or numbers
  2. Ensure the sign is readable from 20 feet away
  3. Raise the sign at least 5 feet off the ground
  4. Place the signs in heavily traveled areas
  5. Make sure the materials are weather-resistant

If the organizers distribute a survey, I’ll be sure to share the above with them!

Reminder – Father’s Day is this Sunday.

Make that Daddy in your life feel loved!

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The forgotten charities of Boston 2024

5 Jun

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I get annoyed when charities waste money.

A recent article in the Boston Business Journal describes a study from a Charitable Foundation with over $1B in assets that commissioned a report on the economic impact of the Olympics coming to Boston.  The report was favorable – however – they forgot to mention the part about how it may affect local charities. Is this really happening? A large Boston foundation that supports local charities paid for a report that did not include information about how the Olympics would potentially impact the corporate giving of Boston companies. Jaw drop.

According to the article “The omission is noteworthy because of evidence that prior Olympics badly hurt local charities in other host cities..”

So there it is.  Hosting the Olympics would be good for the economy but bad for the local charities.

 I wrote about this is January and here it is again, regarding the possibility of the Olympics coming to Boston in 2024.

I love watching the Olympics.

I get the tingles when I hear the big drum beat when the Olympic rings appear on the screen.

Boom boom ba boom boom…..

If you haven’t heard, Boston is the USAs submission for consideration of the 2024 summer games. Officially known as the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. We will find out in 2017 which city is chosen to host.

Much has been written these past weeks since Boston has been chosen for the short list. According to CBSnewsBoston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. Some Bostonians feel that there should a referendum put up for a vote to gauge the support of those residents that may be affected.

The hope is that no public funds will be needed or used to help pay for the Boston Olympics.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm. A CNBC article  says that the Olympic organizing committee hopes to produce this event for ONLY $5 Billion! What a bahgain!

So how will they pay for this?

If you have read my previous blog posts about the Sochi and London Olympics, then you have seen that millions (billions?) of corporate dollars are needed to produce these events.  Sponsorships. Corporate Sponsorships will help pay for the games.

This is where the WalkathonMaven is concerned.  Having a blog allows me to have an opinion on many things. Since this potential event is close to home (I live 20 miles from Boston) there will be many-an-opine coming from moi.  Buckle up. As you may know, I am an event junkie. I love attending, volunteering and sometimes producing an event.  If the 2024 Olympics do come to Boston, then I will be out there volunteering with my other AARP-brethren pointing to where the toilets are.  I may even brush-up on the French I forgot from high school. I may even challenge myself to learn “the toilets are this way” in several languages!  WooHoo!  I will live in my SUV near Carson Beach while I rent out my home for meeeeeeellions of dollars.

Local non-profits rely on the corporate dollar and mostly the corporate sponsorship dollar to produce their walkathons in and around Boston.  The corporate sponsorship dollars help defray the costs of producing an event.  Corporate sponsorship dollars are needed to pay for sexy things like tents, toilets, chairs, printing, police, postage etc… This allows more of the walker donations to go toward the mission of the non-profit organization. With me?

There are many worthy causes competing for the corporate donation dollar. When the Boston Marathon bombings occurred and the One Fund Boston was established to help those affected, many corporate donation dollars were directed toward this.  Great cause, yes – but these same corporations have a limited donation bucket capacity and had to reduce the support they usually gave to the other organization that rely on their sponsorships.  Many walkathons in Boston had reduced support from local corporations since they were supporting the One Fund instead. Still with me?

My main concern regarding the Olympics coming to Boston is that many of the corporate donations that local walkathons rely on will be directed instead to Boston2024.  While many of the local walkathons have sponsorship levels at $5K, $10K, $25K or $50 thousand, these same corporations will instead be asked for $5M, $10M, $25M and $50 MILLION to sponsor the Olympics.

I really HOPE that Boston gets the Olympics and I really HOPE that the corporations will minimally level-fund their walkathon sponsorships.  This way the for-profit and non-profits in and around Boston can happily share the world spotlight on our great city!  For more information about the Boston bid for the 2024 Olympic, please check out their website here.

 

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The Mutha of Walk Weekends

11 May

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Mother’s Day was this past weekend and it is a traditional time for me to escape my mommy duties for a day, and also for many fundraising events to happen.

One of the larger national events that occurred last weekend is the the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC. This year, they had 15K participants and their top fundraiser raised over $31K!!   Whoa!!!   Years ago, this 5K walk/run event had 40,000 participants and was the largest in the nation for Komen. I was surprised to see that Hulk Hogan made an appearance as the Grand Marshall. I thought it was a random choice for a Grand Marshall, but apparently Komen has a partnership with the WWE that has helped them raise over $1.5M!!  I wonder if any events have a partnership with the MMA.  Can you imagine seeing a promotional charity banner hanging in the Octagon while the fighters kick each others teeth out?

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I found that Washington DC has a walkathon just about every weekend, and came upon a fantastic and comprehensive listing of all the events for the area. SO many walks for so many great causes. Holy Walkathon Hotbed!  Is your cause or issue having a walk in the DC area?  Here are the links:

Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation

National Walk for Epilepsy

MS Walk – National MS Society, National Capital Chapter:

Walk for Lupus Now

Breath Deep 5K Walk for LUNGevity

National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Relay for Life

Ronald McDonald House Charities® Red Shoe 5K Run & Walk

Great Strides for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

We’ve Got Your Back 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk

Walk to Cure Diabetes

Psoriasis Network Walk to Cure

Stomp Out Sickle Cell Walk

Walk Off Parkinson’s

Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Prevent Cancer Foundation 5k Walk/Run

“Join the Voices! D.C. Walk”

Huntington’s Disease Society of America Hope Walk & 5K Run

FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Northern Virginia

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Cornerstones Help the Homeless Walk

Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk

Making Strides of Washington, DC 5K Walk

Walk Now For Autism Speaks

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk

American Diabetes Association’s Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes

National Walk for Hemophilia

AIDS Walk Washington

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Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation 5K Walk

CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer

Greater Washington Heart Walk

St. Jude Give Thanks

You could say that the DC area is the Muthaship of all Walkathons! I may need to create a WalkathonMaven satellite office in the Nation’s Capital!

 

Walkers at the POTS event

Walkers at the POTS event

 

Not every walkathon has to be huge to bring awareness to an issue. Yesterday, I read a story in the Boston Globe about a small walkathon for a disease I have never heard of.  POTS. About 400 people showed up for the walk in the Boston area to raise money and awareness for an organization called Dysautonomia International, that raises money for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

What is POTS? The article says that POTS is A malfunction of the autonomic nervous system that can leave sufferers unable to function, POTS is estimated to affect between 1 million and 3 million Americans, most of them young womenWho knew? Dysautonomia International is a new (2102) organization and is currently unrated with Charity Navigator.  On GuideStar, I found that they have an annual budget of $100,000.  All of the big walks started small like this, and I wish them the best as they grow to be a more visible event that provides a place for other caregivers/affected persons to gather.

Why do you walk?

For the t-shirt?

For the cause?

To be part of a community of people that would like to bring awareness and raise money for a cause that affects them?

Big or small, a walkathon is a great way to be with other like-minded individuals who share the same interest in making things better.

Here is a walk coming up next weekend that raises money for homeless kids so that they can have a birthday party.  Everyone loves a Cake Walk!

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Super Bowl XLIX

31 Jan

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Super Bowl XLIX (or 49 for the roman-numeral-challenged) is tomorrow!  My beloved Patriots are playing the defending champs (name omitted on purpose) for the title of Best NFL Team. Being an event junkie, I needed to read about the logistics involved in hosting such a HUGE event.  I found the Host committee website to peruse the volunteer opportunities, sponsors and the like.

Apparently, Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix is sponsored by Verizon. The VSBC Verizon Super Bowl Central (VSBC) will take over and transform Downtown Phoenix into the epicenter of Super Bowl activities with 1 million visitors expected to attend.  I think that the Host Committee did a great job on the website making the event idiot-proof with regards to transportation and other FAQs.  They even have a tab that lists contact information for ALL of the vendors that have provided services to their event.  If you have room to spare on your walkathon website, it would be nice to include ALL the vendors that provide services for your event.  Perhaps the mention on your site will encourage a greater discount or outright donation of services for your next walk.   FYI – the name of the potty company is called “A” Company Portable Restrooms.  Your welcome.

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Many news sites have done non-football-related comparisons between New England and the other team.  My favorite is the one from Philanthropy.com titled: Super (Generosity) Bowl: Which Team Has the Edge?  The article compared things like:

Which city is more generous?  (Answer: the other team. Their giving ratio is 3.09% vs. our 2.54% of income. )

Which teams foundation gives more?  (Answer: Patriots with $3.12 million in grants. BTW, only the Cowboys give more)

Which team owner is more generous? (Answer: The other team.  The owner, Paul Allen,  is the co-founder of Microsoft.  ‘Nuff said.)

Charitable standouts on the roster. (Answer: toss up)

Looking forward to seeing the commercials, especially the Budweiser Clydesdales search for ‘Lost Dog’!  Let’s go Patriots!!!

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