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October 21, 2016
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A Day At the Races (II) — And We're Off!

[This post follows "A Day At the Races (I) Before the Event", where I discussed some of the work that goes into setting up a fundraising walk, run, or ride.]


Finally, it's the day of the event. Key committee members and volunteers are on-site well before dawn, pitching tents, hauling T-shirts, setting up tables, and taking inventories. Others keep the committee apprised of when each rest stop receives its tents, tables, chairs, ice, water, food, and medical supplies from the provisioners, and when volunteers show up. If provisions aren't where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there, the communications team lets the logistics team know that as well. If the event is large enough, the police start blocking off the streets, and the sanitation and pothole patch crews do a final sweep. The sign-in folks check in both participants and volunteers, giving each the appropriate identification. Precursors do a final check of the course to make sure it is free of hazards and debris.


At the appointed time, the event commences. Communications and logistics volunteers keep track of where the participants are on the course, when and where someone needs assistance (and what sort of assistance is needed), and whether or not there are enough supplies at any site. "Sweep" vehicles follow the last participants so the coordinators know when to expect them at the finish line, and (if the streets were blocked or closed off) the police know when to let normal traffic back on the road. After the participants have all passed, a few volunteers still have to stay behind until the tents, tables, and leftover food has been picked up. Finally, when each rest stop is back in the state it was the day before the event, its volunteers may be asked to travel up the course to pick up drop-outs or to take care of issues the preceding vehicles may have missed.


It isn't until some time after the last participant has completed the course, the last tent has been hauled away, and the last award presented that the committee and the last volunteers may "secure from their posts" and go home.


After the event, the organizers still need to process last-minute income from day-of-event registration fees, last-minute and cash donations to charities, file and/or pay any bills and taxes, and in the case of charity events, calculate participants' fund-raising totals to determine who has earned which awards, and get them ordered and shipped out.

By the time one accounts for the costs of permits, police/fire/rescue, collateral, participant support (including food and water), identification, communications, taxes, and awards, it costs a fair amount of time and money to organize a charity walk, run, or ride. On top of this, the event needs to show a profit in order to seed the next year's event and to fund the organization's programs whether they be prevention, support, or research-oriented.


As a volunteer or participant, I may not worry about where the money to pay for my T-shirt comes from but as a person with diabetes, I want to know that the ADA, the JDRF, or whichever organization to which I am donating my time (and some portion of my public self) will be able to keep bringing researchers, pharmacologists, healthcare professionals, and patients together to help us live longer, healthier lives. And that one day hopefully in my lifetime or yours their programs and funding will result in the vaccines and cures that will end diabetes (and all of the other health conditions for which we walk, run, ride, or volunteer) without ending our own lives in the process.

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