We’ve all seen the power of social media. President Obama tweets out his March Madness bracket and suddenly everyone’s rooting for Michigan State, or a cute child holds up a photo on Facebook saying “My mom will let me get a puppy if this gets 1 million likes!”
But for Team Fox members Megan Pliscofsky and Alexis Flewelling, sharing a map of the country on Facebook fundamentally changed the nature of their April 5th Fox Trot 5K in South Glens Falls, NY, and put a whole new spin on the impact a “virtual 5K.”
Megan, who ran the NYC Half Marathon with Team Fox in 2012, was excited to fundraise for this year’s TCS NYC Marathon in honor of her mom who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010. But she didn’t just want to ask friends, family and businesses for donations as she had done in the past. While Megan’s half marathon efforts successfully raised over $14,000, Megan saw an even bigger opportunity to raise both funds and awareness by proactively engaging her community. As a runner with a large network of running friends, the idea of hosting a 5K Run/Walk made sense. With her friend and co-worker Alexis on board – to help with planning and to join Megan in NYC for the marathon – the Fox Trot 5K was born.
Megan and Alexis knew that they had friends who wouldn’t be able to attend the race on April 5th, but still wanted to give them the opportunity to participate and fundraise. They added an option to participate virtually and set a goal of getting one runner/walker from each of the 50 states. Each runner/walker would be able to register, fundraise, and participate in a 5K run/walk anytime between April 1st and 7th in their community. To help get the word out, Megan and Alexis created a Facebook page for the event and shared a map of the USA, coloring the states orange as runners were registered. After a few shares from friends who encouraged their networks to sign up and represent their state – the map was turning orange quickly.
By race day, over 300 local participants were registered to run and walk, along with 50 children in a 1-mile event and 75 virtual runners from across the country. 45 states (and two countries – Mexico and Ireland) were represented in the virtual Fox Trot and participants began to share photos from their run/walk on the Facebook page. What started as a local community event quickly spread nationwide – raising over $10,000 along the way.
Megan and Alexis learned a lot from their inaugural event and are already discussing plans for 2015. They were blown away by the support from the community – who helped with everything from registration to aiding water stations – and can’t wait to host a bigger and better race next year. Megan notes, “If you have an idea and your heart is in it, go for it – don’t be afraid. You will be amazed at the outpouring of support you will receive. Nothing is impossible and I am confident a cure will be found!”
Editor's Note: Love the idea of a virtual 5K? So do we! Keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities to join Team Fox in support of National Running Day on June 4th!