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Let’s end Friday on a high note. The recipient of our first Random Act of Kindness in support of my marathons is now cancer free! If you go out this weekend, do a random act of kindness. Buy the meal for a young couple in the same restaurant you are in. Tip 50% instead of whatever you normally tip. Do something unexpected for someone you don’t know.
When you support a family member in need, you’re doing the right thing. The community you are part of is counting on you, and fulfilling your obligation to them is part of being a member of that community.
What happens, though, when you help someone you don’t know? What happens when one community deliberately seeks out someone who needs a leg up and attention and support and reaches out – with no possibility of reciprocity? That feeling is extraordinary, and as I run the 29 marathons I’ve got left to go to make my 50 marathons by age 50 goal, I have been thinking harder about fundraising as part of this experience.
After my close friend Andy Sack was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the impact of a medical emergency really hit home for me. Andy’s fully recovered after surgery and a 62 day chemo regimen – the experience caused me to think a lot about what families go through when a loved one is ill.
During this time, I met Ethan Austin, the co-founder of GiveForward at Lindzonpalooza. I was blown away by what they are doing and decided to team up with them to do 29 random acts of kindness over the next few years.
For each of my upcoming marathons, I’m going to run in support of one of the GiveForward campaigns. Amy and I will kick off the fundraising with a commitment of at least $145,000 ($5,000 per marathon) and encourage our extended community to contribute whatever they can. We may increase this amount in the future ($5,000 will always be our minimum) depending on the total level of contribution (more contributors = bigger contribution from us.) I’m also going to do some random things for the people who contribute on a marathon by marathon basis – look for me to have some fun with this rewarding my community for helping with a random act of kindness.
The people we will support will not be people we know. Rather, they will be people who inspire us and who we want to shine a random act of kindness on. Our fundraising efforts will be a complete surprise to these families, and our hope is that we can create a little unexpected joy for the people we support.
The first random act of kindness is Justin Salcedo from Devine, TX who has testicular cancer. I’ll be running the Missoula Marathon on July 8, 2012 in Missoula, Montana for him. His family friend set up a GiveForward page for him and wrote the following description:
Justin Salcedo is from a small town south of San Antonio, TX. We live in Devine, TX. He is a good athlete, a good son, and a good friend to everyone. Always has a smile on his face. He just recently found out he had testicular cancer. His mother is the one who told me the story of how he found out about his cancer. I have known him for about 17 years. My sister-in-law baby sat him when he was little. My son and Justin were in pre-K together, they were in little league baseball, our local youth basketball league, Middle school athletics and 2 years highschool athletics. So for this news it was a shock to me and I am not his immediate family. It feels like dream…..
The GiveForward campaign is called Kicking Cancer. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000 by May 31st to help out Justin and his family. Let’s do this for Justin and show the world how the power of a community can deliver random acts of kindness.
PS – if you can’t afford to donate, I urge you to share Justin’s GiveForward page on your Facebook wall or give Justin a “virtual hug” by leaving words of encouragement on his page. Neither of these things will cost you a dime but they might mean the world to Justin.
In the “truth is stranger than fiction” category, my CU Boulder bathroom donation (well – the gift I gave to CU Boulder that resulted in me getting to name a bathroom) made the TV news tonight in Boston on Fox 25. There’s apparently a new bathroom news cycle because of William Falik’s gift to Harvard Law School for the Falik Men’s Room at Harvard Law School. While my bathroom at CU Boulder doesn’t have the same elegant name (it’s known as RRM 209 in the ATLAS Building, or the Feld Mens Bathroom on Foursquare), I’ve got a better quote: ”“The Best Ideas Often Come At Inconvenient Times – Don’t Ever Close Your Mind To Them.”
The two minute news clip, along with a Skype interview I did this afternoon, follows. MIT – my offer is still open – don’t flush it.
One of the great things about living in Eldorado Springs, Colorado is interacting with nature on a daily basis.
Protecting the environment has been a priority of mine for many years. Every now and then I like to call out a non-profit organization that I support that I think does an excellent job of helping protect the environment.
Colorado Conservation Voters is one of these groups. CCV works to turn conservation values into Colorado priorities by educating legislators and the public about important environmental issues, helping pro-conservation candidates win their elections, and then holding our elected officials accountable. Most importantly, they do it efficiently as they are a group that has influence and reach much larger than their budget would indicate.
In the past six years they have built and protected a conservation majority in the state House, Senate, and Governor’s office. These victories matter – Colorado is a better place for CCV spearheading these pro-environment victories. For example:
- Colorado now requires that 20% of our electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar;
- More water is kept in our rivers and streams when they need it most and in crucial areas for habitat protection, protecting the health of our rivers;
- We have the strongest protections in the nation for our drinking water, wildlife, and communities threatened by oil and gas drilling.
This is a group that understands how to make change happen. They use their money strategically and efficiently. If you are interested in conserving the environment in Colorado, I encourage you to take a look at the Colorado Conservation Voters website as well as considering making a gift or even becoming a monthly donor.
I think Boulder is one of the absolute best places to start a tech company. The depth of talent and overall strength of our tech community here is superb. It turns out that makes it a great place to start a community-based tech nonprofit startup, too. I’ve written before about SnapImpact’s great work in making doing good easy. Having already created the first volunteering app for the iPhone, they’re started taking on some additional challenges.
Specifically, their developers got the attention of All for Good, a Silicon Valley-based project that managed to make data-sharing agreements with all the major volunteer data providers in the US – not an easy feat. Over the past year, they’ve built the US’s biggest database of volunteer opportunities and are the back-end for the serve.gov website. The SnapImpact crew has been given the go-ahead to create All for Good version 2.0.
They’re kicking it off with SnapCamp on Feb 19-21, an intensive weekend event for non-profit stake-holders, developers, designers, marketing gurus, startup geeks, and anyone else who wants to make it easy for volunteers find ways to contribute. Of note to developers, v2.0 will be utilizing Scala/Lift – with full support of the Lift community and Dave Pollak, it’s creator.
SnapCamp is taking place in the TechStars Bunker and is being fully sponsored by All for Good. I encourage you to show up, have some geeky startup fun, and do something really big with your weekend. Sign up at Eventbrite: http://snapcamp.eventbrite.com.