Running, Cycling and Hiking for Animals
Fundraising Through Successful Athletic Events
Since our beginning in 1957, we at Friends of Animals have relied on our kind members and supporters to enable us to do our important work for animals. A pioneering spay-neuter program for cats and dogs has always been a central feature of our work, getting to the root of the homeless pet problem by facilitating more than 2.5 million veterinary procedures.
Our mission and our campaigns have expanded beyond low-cost spay-neuter to include protection for all animals we can support, whether free-living or domesticated. From campaigns aimed at ending persecution of deer, wolves, bears and geese — and whole bio-communities in sensitive habitats that need protection — to our efforts to ban New York’s horse-drawn carriage industry, as well as our education and promotion of vegan living through our cookbooks, literature and advocacy, Friends of Animals covers as much ground as possible in order to cultivate a respectful view of all animals on Earth.
In the past several years we’ve taken on exciting and vital new projects. Marine Animal Rescue saves and protects marine animals on the Southern California Coast. We also manage and support Primarily Primates. Thought to be the first primate sanctuary established in the United States, our 78-acre Texas refuge is home to about 400 animals: chimpanzees, lemurs, monkeys, birds and farm animals who were once property of pet owners, farms, zoos, exhibits, media companies and laboratories.
To keep going forward, we’ve developed new ways of raising funds.
We Brake – And Run – For Animals
Cody Donahue, a valued member of Friends of Animals and now a board member, inspired us with a brilliant idea to combine two passions to benefit animals:
“Last January,” Cody recalled, “I was thinking about how I had been a supporter of Friends of Animals' work for years, and wished I could do more to support the organization. Could I bake vegan pies and sell them? Could I organize a film showing? But I was running three marathons in 2011 and I spent all my free time running. Then it hit me: Why shouldn't I run for the animals? Earlier that year, I had participated in my first New York City road race, and saw that practically everyone was raising money for something, but I didn't see many runners helping animals. And what better conveys the vegan ethic of health and wellbeing than challenging yourself to an athletic test?”
So Cody started a page for Friends of Animals on the fundraising website Crowdrise.com and launched a fundraising campaign while preparing for the 2011 New York City Marathon. Over the course of six months, Cody asked friends, co-workers, and Facebook and Twitter networks to support this long run through the streets of New York with small donations to Friends of Animals.
And Cody finished the race:
On November 6, 2011, I ran the 26.2 mile marathon through all five New York boroughs wearing a sign promoting Friends of Animals and being vegan. I finished in 4 hours 26 minutes with a great sense of personal accomplishment; and I raised $500 for Friends of Animals.
Both Cody and our member Jane Seymour decided to run the 2012 Brooklyn Half Marathon in May. Thus emerged another fundraiser through Crowdrise: The Friends of Animals Run for New York City’s Cats and Dogs. This fundraiser was dedicated to our spay-neuter project in New York. The goal was $2,000. We exceeded that goal by raising $2,373, including $1,210 raised by Jane — making this effort a smashing success! (Supporters: You know who you are; thank you so very much.)
“ I've always known people who would raise money for charities to be able to run in marathons,” Jane explains. As I began to run more, I realized this could be an opportunity for me to do the same, but for a charity that I care deeply for.”
At first, Jane felt a little unsure about asking friends and colleagues for donations, “because I was asking them to sponsor me doing something I wasn't sure I could physically do.” Yet the more donations that came in, the more inspired Jane felt to finish the 13.1 miles. Jane had a new goal — and reached it. “Running for FoA gave me an overwhelming feeling of purpose. I was thrilled with how many people were willing to sponsor me.”
Jane ran alongside friend Marissa Stephenson and both runners finished in exactly 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Cody felt a similar sense of inspiration:
I focused on raising awareness of the situation of cats and dogs in New York City, as my fiancée's sister had just adopted a cat from New York City Animal Care and Control. Running for Alice the Cat, I raised $191 through a two-hour, 13.1 mile-race through Brooklyn. I decided it would also be important to volunteer at Animal Care and Control, which I started doing in June 2012.
When the sweltering day of the race came along, Friends of Animals staff and supporters came out to stand at the finish line on the Coney Island Boardwalk. What a thrill to cheer Jane and Cody when they ran up to us!
Cody is starting a new fundraising team for the 2012 New York City Marathon and run it in November. Cody is eager to find new teammates for Team Friends of Animals, so if you’ve dreamed of running the marathon, now’s the time to make it a reality.
Cycling for Marine Animals
Our Canadian Correspondent Dave Shishkoff has a passion for bike racing. Dave decided to organize Friends of Animals’ “Race to Save Marine Animals” in June. The three-mile race moved along Dallas Road’s oceanside vista in Victoria, British Columbia, where many marine animals are often visible.
Dave got excited about funding Friends of Animals’ Marine Animal Rescue team, which annually saves some 400 dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea birds and even whales. These animals get caught up in the Los Angeles County area fish trade — entangled in gill netting and ropes, or injured by swallowed hooks. The MAR team offers a 24-hour hotline for oceanside rescues; the project’s experienced facilitator, Peter Wallerstein, is on the job every day of the year.
Dave called on cycling teammate Kevin Park to assist with fundraising for the race, and enlisted the help of Organic Athlete’s Victoria team [see victoria.organicathlete.org] to spread the word. Then came the work of actually completing the ride. Dave was thrilled to finish the 5km (about three miles) time trial just three seconds from a dream result of seven-and-a-half minutes.
“Organizing the fundraiser was actually pretty easy,” says Dave. “I was surprised by the donations from people I didn't even know, but word got around on Facebook, Twitter and GooglePlus, and I managed to help MAR with over $600 in a two-week period!”
Endurance Hiking for a Rescued Primates
When Lee Hall (Vice President of Legal Affairs for Friends of Animals) takes a rare break from the valuable role of editing, legal research and writing, a trail hike is probably involved. Not quite two years ago, in January 2011, long-time friend and fellow attorney Lee Ruslander introduced Lee to hiking club members at a dinner, and this meeting (which happened to mesh perfectly with Lee’s New Year’s resolutions) inspired Lee to join the Chester County Trail Club in Pennsylvania.
At age 50, Lee became a backpacker, completing four-day “section hikes” (the hikes done by working people who aren’t still — or yet — free to go into the woods for five months straight) along the Appalachian Trail. Lee is persuaded that wool socks and leather shoes are absolutely unnecessary for backpacking, and is known for sharing vegan trail snacks with friends in the club.
In early 2012, Lee took to the Internet and raised more than $400 in the “Hike for Primarily Primates.” On the big day, Lee hiked the Brandywine Trail from end to end, speedwalking through marshes, over streams, up and down nettle-covered hills, from Ludwig’s Corner, Pennsylvania to the Brandywine Creek State Park near Wilmington, Delaware. This annual hiking challenge is hosted by the Wilmington Trail Club with support of the Chester County Trail Club, and lasts from sunrise to sunset on one day in April. Lee covered 36.2 miles in approximately 10 hours and 45 minutes.
It bears noting that Lee, wearing non-leather “water shoes” and organic cotton socks, didn’t suffer blisters — the bane of endurance hikers.
Vegan Athletes; Shifting Attitudes
Vegan marathoner Cody Donahue has noticed a shift in people’s attitudes. Fifteen years ago, a vegetarian was greeted with mocking remarks. Donahue credits the rise of local and organic food consciousness, yoga and other forms of wellness as factors in a cultural shift.
Cody notes that vegan marathoners are now receiving positive attention, pointing to ultramarathoner Scott Jurek's new book Eat and Run, and a recent blog in the New York Times entitled My Vegan Marathon.
Cody says, “Being a vegan athlete is getting a reputation for producing better athletic results. I can’t help but agree.”
Create Your Own Event to Benefit Friends of Animals
Want to organize or support a fundraising team event to benefit Friends of Animals? If you’re interested, or want to learn how, call Edita at 212-247-8120 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a fun and fulfilling way to make a difference for animals and to challenge ourselves. Let’s do it!