Saturday, October 4, 2008

Every second counts.

"The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and has time enough."-Unknown

Today was an incredible run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (San Diego Run Team). The run caused me to look inward (again) at my own journey with cancer....and that moment of hearing the words, "you have cancer" which suddenly forced me as a young adult of 31 yrs to face the prospect of my own death. I suppose that is why I am so proud of the Lance Armstrong Foundation for taking their LIVESTRONG brand global, and I am so proud of my TNT team. It's time to make change happen.
In running and training with our team, we work harder to be stronger, so we can run a faster race and try for our personal record for time. New shoes, new clothes, interval training --- whatever it takes to whittle down the time it takes to run the race. Yet, in facing a battle with cancer, it's all about stretching out the time...and to be grateful for each day we wake up and for each breath we still have left in our lives. I have lost several good friends my age to their battles with cancer over the past two years. While I could be bitter about the little time we had together, instead, I am grateful for the extra moments and time their cutting-edge treatments gave them to be with me and their families. Instead of shaving time off an endurance run, they fought like hell and added those extra precious days, seconds, hours to their lives to let their light shine a bit longer in this world.
The next time you are out there running for charity (or watching someone run by you that's running for charity), remember what it must be like for those that are not trying to shorten their race, but add just even one more breath to fight their disease. The next time you hear one of us involved with the LIVESTRONG Challenges or Team in Training ask for donations, before you say "no," perhaps you'll think about this blog and those that cannot run. Don't tell me a story about how you "almost" gave to a charity because that just might have "almost" have saved a life. "Don't just almost give. GIVE." Please donate to my TNT campaign, as I am still short of my goal. Click on the "Cures Rock!" logo on the right side or click here to donate. If you're still not convinced, please watch this 15 second video by the Ad Council. Things may be tough with the economy, but not as tough as the battle some of these patients are facing. Thank you, all, for being my personal heroes in battling the disease of cancer!!!


  1. How much money donated to a TNT runner goes to the real work of the "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society" and how much goes to sending TNT runners to events?

    Of the percent that goes to "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society", how efficiently do they use the money they net from the runners?

    Some of us are survivors, activists in research and survivorship, and do it for no other reason than "The Obligation of the Cured". No one has to pay my way and entry fee into a marathon for me to be deeply involved.

  2. Thank you very much for taking the time to ask great questions! First, I am not an employee with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so you should contact them if you want specific details regarding your questions. However, I will do the best I can to address them:

    I personally believe that the two organizations I mentioned in my post (Team in Training & Lance Armstrong Foundation ) are fantastic and have great programs to encourage folks to get out, be healthy AND make a difference.

    For TNT, 20-25% max goes to Admin costs, and the rest, 75% or more, goes straight to the Society's Mission to cure blood cancer and provide patient services. They are very upfront on how and where that money goes to help the Mission. TNT always sets a minimum amount that runners need to raise to when they participate in TNT (for example, admin costs x 4 = total min amt participant needs to raise to be a part of the team). They are very upfront about how the funds are used in their meetings. (This is within the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance percentage framework.) In many cases, the runners raise well over that amount!

    It's great to hear your passion to stay involved. Everyone has different reasons for being deeply involved, so I pesonally believe charities should have a variety of ways for constituents to be included, whether from volunteering, raising money, etc. I am also a survivor (and my career background is research), so I very much understand the "obligation of the cured" you mentioned. It's a driving force that gets me out there running, working with non-profits fighting cancer, and raising funds for charity as a TNT Participant and LIVESTRONG Army Leader. I can assure you I do it because I feel I should "give back" out of sheer gratitude to be alive and not because of a race fee. The amount of sweat and tears particpants put into training for 4 months and running their first marathon in most cases, goes above and beyond a simple race entry fee, too. It's about a major personal achievement while also raising awareness about blood cancer, and raising funds for more research as a team. And, if it does motivate them to raise money for charity by going to a race, I would think that is an ok reason, too. It's similar to a fundraising dinner or other fundraising events that charities throw...Some people need to feel they are part of the experience, and meet the people they are raising funds for to connect with the Cause.

    After those admin costs, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raised over $12.5 million Net at the last marathon race I ran in, which all goes straight to the Mission goals to research and services. Research dollars raised over the past 20 years of TNT (over $800 Million net!) have gone to many local San Diego and National research institutes, and helped fund the research that discovered Gleevec, a drug that has changed the lives of many blood cancer patients. That's pretty awesome.

    I am proud to be a part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LiveStrong Army and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training! It's my way to stay involved and give back as part of my obligation to the cure, and I wish you all the best in your endeavors, too! Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and open up such a great discussion, as I really do believe we should all be asking the tough questions about where our funds go and how they are managed by Not-for-Profit Organizations.

  3. So you are saying that 1 in every 4 dollars immediately goes to benefit the runner/cyclist/walker for the event in which they are participating? That is some pretty big overhead, why would I note just donate the money directly to the
    "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society" abd get one third more affect for the same amount of money?

    Oh well, enough on that.

    What about the "net" money that goes to "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society"? There must be administrative cost there too, even if there are a mere 20% (which would mean they are and incredibly efficient organization) that equates to only 60 cents of every dollar ACTUALLY going to the real work of the "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society" (80% of 75 cents of every dollar given to a TnT team member).

    Being a marathoner and having run in events where TnT was also praticopating, let's get to my final topic, the last of ettique among TnT runners and their fans/support:

    1) TnT walker/runners walking three and for abreast on a race course, blocking other runners

    2) TnT fans and coaches ONLY cheering for runners/walkers wearing purple, and actually sometimes being out on the course endangering other runners (I've experienced that firsthand TnT fans ON BICYCLES on the race course, coaches cutting back against the direction of the race to check on 'their' runners/walkers)

    3) TnT participants actually taking short cuts on the course to get to the finish line and get their finisher medals. (Marine Corps Marathon several years ago)

    4) overall exclusionary and elitist attitude of TnT runners/walkers in event and the expos associated with these events.

    All that said, I think TnT has done a great deal of good, but this program has grown to the size that they had better start watching their manners and actions, or face even more negative reaction from other runners/walkers in events.

  4. Let me adjust your assumption. As I stated in my earlier blog, over 75% of all the money raised through the TNT program goes to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Mission (you had it reversed). And yes, that's pretty awesome!!! The other approx. ~25% goes to admin costs of the program. Again, I do not work for the Society, and as you seem very interested in the cost breakdowns, I welcome you to contact your local L&L Society Chapter and ask them about the program and cost breakdowns. They are open to discussing it and would have the details into the programs in the area that you live, too! (In fact, I wouuld question any NPO that is not open to discussing where their funds go that you donate.) You can certainly donate directly to the L&L Society, too! Either way, there is always admin costs for any not-for-profit organization (anywhere from 17%-35% depending on how it's run), so you'll find a portion of every dollar you donate going towards running their NPO. GuideStar or Charity Navigator are great places to research online, and I highly encourage you to do this, too!

    I am truly sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with TNT runners in a race. First, let me say that you are making some incredibly generic, blanket statements across all of TNT, considering the ~3,000 TNT chapters in teh U.S. and Canada.

    1. The Coaches work hard to teach running ettiquette to our running team, both during practices (e.g., run single file on busy roads/bike lanes) and races (e.g., pull to the side if you need to walk, etc.). I think it's common for friends to run together in the race if they are social marathoners, not elite athletes. In the few races I've run, I see 2 people running together (or sticking together within a 5 or 10 yards) through the race...whether or not they are TNT runners. I, personally, don't think that's just a "TNT" thing. But I agree if it's 4 or 5 running abreast that's a little much. I haven't seen that on our team, but believe walkers, slow runners, etc. should give the courtesy and right-of-way to those trying to run past them (sounds like a wrong corral time issue?..not sure...).

    2. I know for a fact that the TNT cheerleaders attending DO cheer for other runners. In fact, in my first marathon, my whole "cures rock" cheerleaders cheered for anyone that had a name on their shirt...not just those in purple. And they had a great time doing it!! Obviously, they were there to cheer me on and my team, too, but so were many other families that day. I think all the runners out there are doing something amazing, and most the crowd thinks so, too. So, perhaps you are being a bit hasty in your generic judgement?

    3. I have NEVER heard of any TNT runner cutting a course. They run the courses just like any other runner, so I whole-heartedly disagree with that comment. There are several races where the race company does allow for a Half Marathon finish line (e.g. Rock N Roll San Diego has a Half Marathon race which you can only participate in if you run with the charity). This is COMPLETELY OFFICIAL with the race course/company. The TNT teams follow the race rules and wear tracking/timing chips just like any other participant.

    4. I am sorry to hear you feel TNT has an elitest attitude. I know teammates are very proud to be a part of the team and hope others will join their Cause, but I don't have any friends in TNT that feel they are "better" than anyone else. We do our long training runs along side other running teams in the area and learn a lot from them. Sure...not everyone feels the L&L Society and TNT is the Cause for them -- this weekend I ran along-side many "Race for the Cure" folks, and we cheered each other on. At the end of the day, it's about getting people off of their couches and doing something for a good cause.

    There are many new runners on the charity teams, which I do think is changing the landscape of the races. Many are learning to race and learning about etiquette for the first time. I can only encourage the more seasoned marathoner althletes, like yourself, to be patient and encourage, give them helpful advice, etc., with an open mind, just like someone probably did for you at your first race.

    I thank you for your comments and constructive feedback. While I can't speak for the other 3000 chapters or TNT official as I'm just a survivor/participant, you can bet that I'll relay some comments to the TNT team I'm on so they learn from other runner's experiences and set an example of good stewardship on the course. And, I'll pass the comments on to our local Chapter folks, too.


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