United Way Kicks Off Annual Campaign with Virtual Fun Run

United Way is launching its 2020-2021 Stronger United campaign with a virtual run beginning on Saturday, September 19th. The run marks the first of several events as part of the organization’s annual campaign, which supports United Way’s Community Investment grantmaking process.

United Way funds are invested in a range of programs, all located in the greater Itasca area, that help families and individuals in our community meet their basic needs, achieve financial stability and independence, meet educational goals, and live healthy lives.

“These programs are vital to the wellbeing of our community, especially right now” states United Way Executive Director Kim Brink Smith. “From providing academic support and personal development opportunities for youth to meeting peoples’ health, food, safety, and shelter needs, the work that we and our partner agencies do will play an essential role in our community’s rebuilding and recovery.”

This is the first time United Way has hosted a virtual run as part of their campaign kickoff, but some favored traditions will still take place. Similarly to previous years, the run will be lumberjack-themed, and includes a 5K option as well as a shorter, mile-long option. Starting this month, United Way will have its usual race route marked for runners and walkers who want to use the classic route that goes through downtown Grand Rapids. There is no time limit on the race and supporters of all ages and athletic abilities are encouraged to join in – even those not currently in the Itasca area.

“It’s always inspiring to see the community come together and demonstrate their caring power during the campaign kickoff,” said Alie McInerney, Board President. “This year, we have the opportunity to come together in new, virtual ways and I have no doubt that our community will rise to meet the challenge!”

Community members who want to go the extra mile can team up to participate in the Charity Challenge, competing with fellow groups of families, friends, and colleagues to raise funds for programs that support youth, veterans, families, and older adults. Charity Challenge team members who raise over $250 will receive a free race entry.

Participants will have several weeks to complete their run, which concludes on October 3rd (recently extended till October 10th). Following the completion of the race, runners will upload their time and a photo online, and will receive a 2020 special edition T-shirt designed by Jenny Farber of Chaotic Beauty Artistry. New this year is a chance to win prizes, which will be chosen by drawing rather than time, so that each participant has an equal chance of winning. The race will conclude with a Race Rally and Packet Pickup at Rapids Brewing Company, where participants can stop by to pick up their swag bags and learn more about United Way’s investments in the community.

Schedule of Events

Lumberjack Mile/5K Fun Run
September 19th – October 10th
Location: Your favorite spot to walk or run!
Register online at uwlakes.org/blog/lumberjack-mile or by emailing info@uwlakes.org.
Race Fees: $25 per adult, $15 for kids age 6-12. Children 5 and under may register and walk or run with an adult for free, however, t-shirts will include an additional cost.

Race Rally & Packet Pickup
Saturday, October 3rd
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Rapids Brewing Company
214 N Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids

Join the movement by donating today. To make a tax-deductible donation, one-time or recurring gifts, text LAKES to 26989 or visit uwlakes.org/donate. Checks can be mailed or dropped off at United Way (350 NW 1St Ave., Suite A, Grand Rapids). Call 218-999-7570 for information about starting an employee giving program at your company, bill-me and bank draft options, as well as stock and security gifts.

About United Way of 1000 Lakes
United Way of 1000 Lakes is a leader in mobilizing the resources of individuals, companies, and government and local organizations to ignite community collaboration in support of the building blocks for a good quality of life: success in school; financial stability; access to care; and healthy lifestyle choices. United Way invites everyone to join the movement.