I saw a bus ad for Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer‘s fifth annual walk/run event, a 5k around Lake Merritt, a few weeks ago. I decided to do it, despite never having run a 5k before. I posted about it here originally.
I believe in charity and I believe we should leave this Earth better than we received it. A moment of kindness can change a life, I know this for a fact, and I try to do my part. Largely this is a monetary thing—I donate to charities, I do school fund raisers, I try to donate to libraries, and I talk about race so much in part because what we have is broken and the only way to make it better is to spread the word.
But I rarely donate my time. I’ll help someone if I see they need help on a minor, person-to-person level, but I usually don’t show up at places that need help, outside of a church function, and I haven’t done that in years. Running a 5k for charity meant donating time, money, and energy, and when I saw the ad for it, I couldn’t think of a reason not to do it. All the reasons were thin.
When I run, I generally run a mile at a time. I’m aiming for speed, because I feel like if I can consistently hit a certain marker, hitting markers past that will be easier. It’s laying a foundation. Five kilometers is a little over three miles, roughly triple what I normally do, but it’s doable. I ran several in the weeks leading up to the event, with my first being my fastest and the ones closest to the event having the most consistent pace. I got sick in the lead-up to it, too, which was aggravating, but I still practiced.
Part of running the 5k was fund raising. I have a megaphone compared to most people in the form of my website and Twitter. I tweeted about it once a day over the two or so weeks I had to prepare for the run, wrote about it on my site, and did a Tumblr thing about it. In the end, the internet raised $1010 to fight cervical cancer, a nice chunk of the organization’s final total of $22030 for the event. It started raining around a mile into the run, and my time ended up being around thirty minutes.
I was the runner-up top fundraiser, which was nice to find out. I was hoping to double the goal, but we blew past that. I met the founders and board of the organization who were very gracious and marveled at the fact that I not only saw a bus ad and decided to join up, but that I managed to solicit donations from across the world. I got a tank top, a hat, a watch, and a hoodie for fundraising, and I got to see a bunch of other active, engaged people doing something they felt was right.
I keep wanting to close this out with a moral, some big discovery I made about myself or my life, but I don’t have one. I didn’t have a big epiphany, I’m not going to dedicate my life to charity like people do in movies… I’m still working out who I am. I’m not who or where I want to be yet, for reasons that are both under my control and completely outside it. I’m a work in progress, fueled by depression, self-loathing, and the desperate thirst to be better than I am, not just better than I was.
The closest thing I have to a moral is something I’ve tried to live by for a while. I feel like if you’re able to help, and willing to help, you should help. Offer your services and time. But if you’re not able, or not willing, that’s cool, too. Passing it along to someone else or speaking on it are enough. There’s a balance in there that’s different for everyone.
Thanks to everyone who donated or said encouraging things. I feel like we did a good thing.
Photos in this post were taken by Eugene Clendinen, and more can be found here.