My children and I went to the Chicago Marathon on Sunday to cheer on some good friends. Perfect weather and over 40,000 dedicated people running 26.2 miles, watched by thousands more enthusiastic supporters. We saw the natural runners, like the amazing Kenyans who won the race. We saw people who did looked even less athletic than me. We saw the very old, the very young, and those who inspired us by clearly overcoming personal challenges to run, like Maickel Melamed. We saw flags and shirts representing at least a dozen countries, from Costa Rica to South Africa. And we saw dozens of causes and charities supported – autism, leukemia, cancer, breast cancer, domestic abuse, animal shelters and more.
What we didn’t see was drowning prevention. No one running with a t-shirt that advertised a charity. No one running in a crazy squid hat to draw attention to the t-shirt that advertised the charity.
No one ran to raise awareness or money for a drowning prevention initiative.
Our friend Ryan ran her first marathon to support Girls In The Game. She raised money from friends and family members who all pledged money to the charity because she was willing to put in months of training and run 26.2 brutal miles for something she believes in – supporting girls in sports. (and an awesome race – way to go Ryan!)
Why didn’t anyone run to support drowning prevention?
No one asked.
And we missed another opportunity to let the whole world know that drowning is a global epidemic and to raise money to combat the epidemic.
Running? Why link drowning with running? For exactly the same reason people run to support a family member or friend with cancer or autism, or they feel a connection to supporting girls in sports, animal welfare or domestic violence. It gives people a chance to feel part of something bigger than themselves and show it in a very public yet very personal way – and to channel funding to those causes.
We need to make people feel part of something bigger than themselves, something they are proud to support. We need to market drowning prevention.
I’ll be speaking about different ways we need to raise awareness and increase funding at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Germany next Tuesday. I won’t be posting a blog next Wednesday, October 23, but I hope you’ll check back on October 30 when I post the links to both speeches that I’m presenting and share my impressions of the conference.
All those other causes are our competition – for attention and for funding. Time to get in training for our own marathon.
Oh yes, before you think that I’ll be running for you, think again – the sign on the left best describes my ability to run a marathon!
If you think we need to increase awareness and raise funding for drowning prevention, click here to Tweet ‘@RebeccaSaveKids Learn to raise funds and increase awareness – check with me on October 30! http://bit.ly/1hWDhLs #stopdrowning’