Badwater and Cystic Fibrosis: Why I’m Breaking my Rule and Running for Charity

It's about more than "Running Badwater."
It’s about more than “Running Badwater.”

I’m running Badwater for charity, and it’s not an entirely easy decision.  I’ve long struggled with fundraising and running for charities, and here’s why:

A number of years ago, DB and I asked my mother to stop getting us “things” for birthdays and Christmas.  In truth, being that we are in that reversed financial position where we are better off than our respective parents, we didn’t want gifts at all, but we also didn’t want to hurt feelings or pride.  The point being, my mother’s very thoughtful solution was to begin donating to charities on our behalf – but they weren’t necessarily charities that were meaningful to us, or that we would typically support.

Because charities, causes and fundraising are very individual matters, and our own lives bring each of us to those that we are individually and inextricably linked to.  DB and I have a very personal connection with the Mid-Ohio Marine Foundation as well as Lima Company, an incredible group of local Marines who suffered tremendous and heartbreaking loss in Iraq ten years ago.  We are animal rights supporters and in particular support no-kill shelters and animal rescue/adoption services.  We have also found our lives touched time and time again by Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

Which is not to say that we haven’t donated to a variety of other causes.  That we don’t support a number of charities benefiting cancer research and cures, or high school boosters, or community programs.  It’s simply to say that these are the causes most important to us – individually.

And therein lies the rub.

The charity or cause that means so very much to me may not mean the same thing to someone who lost a loved one ALS.  Or a person actively battling MS.  Or the person who needs a kidney transplant.  Now.  No, the charities and causes that matter to each of us are ours individually, and often the result of our own life experiences.  And my own personal experience with that dichotomy has made fundraising and running for charity that much more difficult for me.

Yet here I am, running the Badwater 135 to raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.   While running Badwater for charity is not required, having a charitable component is stressed, and I’ve known for years that if/when I undertook this 135 mile journey, it would be to raise funds and awareness for this particular cause, and the four children I immediately know that battle it each and every day, enduring hours of breathing treatments, handfuls of pills, and too many doctors’ visits to count to remain the healthy, vibrant children they are. This cause is one of the ones that pulls at my heart each and every day, because these children are a part of my life, of my “news feeds,” of my Instagram – and of my heart.

So I’m breaking my normal rule, understanding that this “running Badwater” thing gives me a platform that I rarely have. Badwater is something that people are curious about. Interested in. Following intently. “Running Badwater” gives me a chance not just to raise money, but to raise awareness of and for something that is deeply important to me – more important, I might add, than “running Badwater.” Running Badwater is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yes. These kids are just looking for a full lifetime.

Putting the "fun" in fundraiser at a recent CF event (fine, it was a wine tasting.  And a lot of wine was tasted).
Putting the “fun” in fundraiser at a recent CF event (fine, it was a wine tasting. And a lot of wine was tasted).

Running for charity, in my mind, is sticky. And to that end, I’ve tried to model it more after a Kickstarter campaign than a simple “ask.” If you’re going to take the time to support something so important to me, don’t you deserve to have a little fun with it? I think so, and because of that, I’ve endeavored to make my fundraising campaign fun, interactive, and cost-accessible. What did I do? Here’s a look:

  • For a nominal donation, I’m auctioning off my iPod playlist for the two longest climbs on the course. I have no clue what will end up on there, but you’ll literally be on those mountains with me.
  • For a slightly larger amount, you can “officially” participate in the “Get SALTY for CF” Challenge – which includes having your name printed on a banner that we’ll be taking to Badwater with us and photographing at the iconic “Badwater Basin” sign, as well as a “THANK YOU” postcard from one of the towns in Death Valley (Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells or Lone Pine), signed by one of the awesome kids I know fighting CF
  • Create your own donation amount for each time a bucket of ice water gets dumped on me during the actual event (this is part of my cooling process)
  • OR:  Post a photo of yourself wearing purple and getting “SALTY” on July 29 (when I’m running the race) to get ME to donate $1

To learn more about CF and my personal connection to it, you can visit the “I Got SALTY for CF” event page on Facebook here.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting more information about CF, profiles of the kids I’m running for, and updates on my training and race progress.

It’s not an easy topic, but I know I’m not the only one that’s struggled with it.  So Salties:  what’s your experience with running for charity?  Have you done it?  Would you do it?  And how?

Trail and adventure enthusiast. Girl who swears like a sailor but not when she's teaching Sunday School. Survived infertility without a successful pregnancy. Self-employed, primarily working for Clif Bar and Company. Thirteen 100-mile race finishes with seven top 3 placements. An original Saltine.

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1 comment

  1. Clove: running “Badwater” is amazing but using your efforts to help others is compassionate. I’ve run races sponsored by charities for my passions, foster children, especially. I will be writing a post about using running and other athletic events to fundraise: the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a perfect introduction for it. Thank you. And good luck. The CT kids are fortunate to have people like you in their lives.