So how did I get to this point? How did I decide that attempting such a sojourn was a good way to inspire others to help fund food science scholarships?
As with most stories, it starts out simple but gets a little convoluted involving fate, coincidence and some crazy thoughts. Most of my friends in the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) know that for many years I’ve focused at least some of my time and efforts on our students, the next generation of food scientists and technologists. Since 2001, I’ve participated in the IFT Student Association ‘Fun Run’ at the IFT annual meetings. For the last 8 years, I’ve coerced and cajoled my friends to donate monies that go straight to student scholarships – collecting about $28,000 over those 8 years Fate #1). Then a friend got me involved in the IFT committee that develops and recommends undergraduate curriculums (fate and coincidence #2). Then, after that was completed, he invited me to be a part of the team that reviews university programs to assure students are learning the right things well (fate #3). While all this was going on, another friend asked me to be a judge for the IFT Student Association College Bowl (fate #4). These things really endeared our students into my thoughts.
Then in 2014, through some quirk in the TV programming, my family received a free weekend of premium channel movies (and somehow I noticed). Fate and coincidence had me see a documentary called Desert Runners. A movie about the 4 Deserts running series. I’d been running most of this century since I had taken a job where I traveled a lot (85%++!!). I’ve run too many half marathons to count effectively, a marathon and a 50Km so running was not unfamiliar territory to me. A few weeks after seeing the movie, I started thinking to myself “I can do that!” So I’ve been thinking about it and trying to run longer and more.
Would it be coincidence or fate that I was gathering monies from friends for the 2014 IFTSA Fun Run while trying to run more? Fate stuck an idea in my head that said, I wonder if I could inspire more people to donate more money if I did something ‘MORE’? So after much consternation and haggling about if I can or if I should (I’ll be 60 years old when I attempt it!), I convinced my wife to let me try. I’m getting great support from friends who are helping with marketing this plan. I’m learning social media to help me too (I have a great teacher, prodding me along).
So exactly what is it that I am doing and what I want to accomplish?
Let’s start with the fundraising… Foremost in my mind is to raise $100,000 from friends and IFT members to better enable deserving food science students to continue their educations. Second is to inspire you to contribute some of that money and ensure that you are also care for our future food scientists. I care so much that I’m willing to go to an extreme to inspire you. What is that extreme?
At the ripe young age of 60, I plan to complete a 250 kilometer run across the Atacama Desert in northern Chile called the Atacama Crossing. The run is not a single run, it is more of a series of runs day after day after day. Basically, I’ll run a marathon every day for a week. The other things to know about this run are that it is at altitudes of 7,000ft to 11,000ft. In addition, the run is something called ‘self-supported’. A tent will be provided each night, and water and medical care are provided about every 6 miles. But everything else has to be carried by the participant. I’ll have a backpack with my sleeping bag, clothes, food and medical needs to carry for the entire distance (remember – running across the desert!).
I’m inspired to complete this run because I care about the future of our profession. I want deserving students to be able to have help with their education. I hope I’ll inspire you to contribute in some way. Here’s a simple thought to help you think about how much to be inspired and contribute. If every member of IFT gave $5, we’d create a fund of $70,000. $5 seems pretty simple - have a less expensive lunch one day, skip your morning coffee one day, carpool a little to save 2 gallons of gas. But I know not everyone will add their $5. When we collect $100,000, that money will ensure a $3,000 scholarship for one deserving student for many years to come. If you’ve seen the cost of a college education lately, you know $3,000 is helpful but it is only a dent in the full cost. I hope you’ll be inspired to contribute more than $5.
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