Truly Making Life Better For Others

I have to be super quick in throwing up this post, but I just got an email with photos about a well that was built in the Iganga district in eastern Uganda in Jack’s honor from a donation that the Operation Jack Autism Foundation made to Running For The Wells in 2012.

Running for the Wells is a race put on to raise money through World Harvest Mission by Operation Jack friend Jonathan Gunderson, an ultra runner who does amazing things (like running Badwater five times!) to use his running to make the world a better place. He’s a great guy and it was an easy decision to support his efforts. He just sent me photos of the well that went up in Uganda and I can’t even begin to explain how excited it made me. I do my thing, and there’s money coming in and checks going out, but when I see a real, tangible difference that the work people like me and Gundy do, it’s all the reassurance we need that our efforts are worth it.

Here’s a clip Jonathan took a few years ago in the same area where the well went up. This is how they had to get their drinking water. We complain about the taste of tap water. We have nothing on them.

I’m so happy that if nothing else, there’s a village out there that now has clean water as a result of the efforts I’ve made in Jack’s honor, and for those of you who have followed along and participated over the years, here’s one way Operation Jack has made the world a better place.

Jack's name on the dedication plaque. I don't even have words to explain how happy this makes me.
Jack’s name on the dedication plaque. I don’t even have words to explain how happy this makes me.
It makes me so happy to know they'll be filling those buckets with clean water!
It makes me so happy to know they’ll be filling those buckets with clean water!
There's a picture of the plaque from farther away.
There’s a picture of the plaque from farther away.
Villagers who will benefit!
Villagers who will benefit!
I love seeing this smile because I know the happiness and the better health behind it!
I love seeing this smile because I know the happiness and the better health behind it!

 

That’s all! Have a great day and go check out Gundy’s site, runningforthewells.org, and see what he’s got going on![subscribe2]

I'm Paying For Race Entries! For Any Race!

So, I haven’t blogged a whole lot lately. Last week, life got the best of me as my paternal grandparents died within 22 hours of each other, first my grandpa and then my grandma. I wrote a blog about how it was the best love story ever. Check it out if you haven’t already!

Anyways, I have a few things for today, all good in their own way.

Danielle Sterling Gets to Race 4 Free

Danielle Sterling only had to raise $100 to get a free race entry courtesy of Operation Jack. She’s raising money for the Autism Society of Maine and as part of my Race 4 Free program, all she has to do is raise $100 for them and Operation Jack will cover her entry into the Maine Coast Marathon. The way I see it, if she doesn’t go above that $100, but she raises money that wouldn’t have been raised, then effectively she’s helping me pick an autism charity to donate money to.

However, she aimed for $500 just for the heck of it, kind of a pie-in-the-sky goal. A funny thing happened when she did that, though — she surpassed her goal in about a day! Now she’s well over $800 and is eyeing $1,000. Autism Society of Maine wins, she gets to race for free, and the way I see it, about $100 of Operation Jack money resulted in $1,000 being raised for an autism charity that needs the resources. Oh, and I’m sending tech shirts to her donors, too.

Danielle's fundraising page. Took her 10 minutes to set it up and another five minutes to earn a free race entry.
Danielle’s fundraising page. Took her 10 minutes to set it up and another five minutes to earn a free race entry.

It’s a win all the way around, and I have to say, I really enjoy being able to do little things like this.

Let me know if you want me to cover a race entry for you. $100, that’s all you have to raise, and I’ll send you a tech shirt to run in, too!

Best Start To A Eulogy Ever?

At my grandparents’ funeral last week, my uncle and my dad both spoke for about 5-10 minutes each. My grandparents had three sons, no daughters, and like my son Jack, their third son has autism. He’s 54, so I’ve been aware of autism my whole life — well before Jack was born. Originally, my uncle wasn’t going to speak. But in the middle of the service, he changed his mind and ran up to talk after my dad was done.

Everybody was smiling, eager to hear what he would say, how he would remember them. He can be a wildcard, but we all thought it was cool that he decided to go up there and say something. What he would say would was the intrigue of the day. I spoke to him the day before to see how he was doing, because he was very close to his parents. He was upset, but handling things fairly well. He has an amazing memory and I was interested in his perspective when he decided to speak during the funeral. The way he started, though, … wow …

I’m going to be brief. [pause] In 1968, …

We all smiled and kind of silently chuckled because we had no idea what brief meant to him. He actually ended up giving a great, heartfelt speech, which wasn’t too long and wasn’t too short.

My Super-Kind Co-Workers

When I finally got back to work Tuesday after five days out of the office, I wasn’t sure how many of my co-workers knew why I was gone. I work on a small team (about five of us) but there are probably 100+ people at my office and I interact with a fair amount of them. When I got in, one of my teammates handed me a card and I didn’t know if it was from him or what and I said thank you and that I’d open it later. He insisted that I open it right then, so I did, and I was surprised to see that about 30 of my co-workers signed it. I thought it was really nice of them.

But then on top of that, there was an envelope inside, and they all contributed towards a donation that ended up being $300, which they gave to Operation Jack. I’m actually going to donate it to the City of Hope, which is a cancer charity. My grandparents worked hard as volunteers for City of Hope for years and years and it took me about half a second to make that decision when I saw that the donation.

It was super nice of my co-workers to do that, though. I really appreciated it — super nice action on their part that they absolutely didn’t have to do. I figured a few people might come over and welcome me back, but to know that they collectively donated $300 to charity in my grandparents’ honor and memory? I felt really, really happy and grateful and was pretty speechless.

That’s all for today, have a great Wednesday![subscribe2]

New Shirts! New Shoes! New Service!

I’m really just blogging about new shirts. But I did just break in a new pair of running shoes yesterday. The new service thing in the headline — it doesn’t really mean anything but I haven’t slept a lot lately and had some random desire to make a play on “no shirt, no shoes, no service” and I did.

The thing I’m excited about is the new Operation Jack shirts that came in yesterday. I guess I should preface by saying that if you’ve never been here, click here to see what Operation Jack is all about, and click here to read about the Operation Jack Autism Foundation. Long story short, I’m an autism dad and I try my best to raise money for autism charities because there’s no reason not to try.

I got new shirts in because I hadn’t gotten new shirts (other than shirts for the Operation Jack Marathon) in four years. I’m kind of excited about them — I like the way they look and I got some extras for myself so now I’ll be able to run in Operation Jack gear every day! I only had two shirts of the old design.

Here’s a picture:

oj shirt
New shirt!

And here’s a picture of an ugly, sleepy guy modeling one this morning:

Good-looking shirt. Not a good-looking guy.
Good-looking shirt. Not a good-looking guy.

If you want one, let me know and I’ll get one out to you. I have sleeveless tank tech shirts and short-sleeve tech shirts. Technically, I’m wearing a long-sleeve tech shirt in the picture, but I maybe had special privileges and got myself a couple of those when I ordered them. 😉

I don’t really have a price for them, just a suggested minimum donation of $10. You can donate here and if you do I’ll get back to you and confirm your address and ask you for your size and whether you want sleeves or not. I’m not worried about these being a revenue generator — I just want people who want to wear an Operation Jack shirt to have an Operation Jack shirt. I’ve let the dollars take care of themselves for the past five years and everything has been just fine.

That reminds me, I’m really excited that we were able to make a grant to TACA to help with webinars they produce for parents nationwide. We just got a check to them at the end of last week and I’m so happy when I see that the money I’ve worked to raise will help thousands of autism parents nationwide. I get locked in on trying to take care of the things on my end that I can take care of — creating shirts, putting on the marathon, running 50 miles in miserable weather last Saturday, etc. But occasionally, it’s really nice when I see the real impact it all has!

OK, well that’s all for today. My wife is nagging me to get off the computer.

Can I send you a shirt?[subscribe2]

Three Things Friday: Can I Pay For Your Marathon Entry?

Three Things Friday … the whole Three Things Thursday rolls off the tongue easier, but it’s not Thursday. So there’s that. Three quick things and then I’ll send you on your weekend (as if you’re waiting on me for that … but anyways) …

1. I started Operation Jack by running 61 marathons in 52 weeks in 2010. I can’t do that again (well I could, but it would require a corporate sponsorship I’m not going to get). But I still want to get people to run for the cause. So I have what I think is the easiest way to get you to do that: Raise $100 (yes, that’s one-hundred, that’s all) and I’ll cover a marathon entry for you that costs up to $100. Raise $125 for an entry up to $125 or $150 up to $150. The money you raise will go to the autism-related charity of your choice. Basically, I like to raise money to give it out and I want to use my 2014 budget to spread it around all over the place to the charities you pick. Oh, and I’m going to send you an Operation Jack shirt and medal to supplement what you get at your race.

It’s pretty easy, risk-free and it is as much of a no-brainer as it sounds. You could just “raise” the money with your own donation, which would basically be the same cost as your race entry anyways. Take a look at the details. If you’re interested, email me at sam@operationjack.org!

2. I haven’t talked about it much and I’ll probably write up a post very soon. But a lot of you know that we moved out here to Pennsylvania for a better school situation for Jack and he finally started school on September 3. Well three weeks in and it’s going very well. The school is great, the staff is great and Jack’s doing well. I’ve met his teacher and the assistant who’s dedicated to him and so far it confirms everything I thought about why we moved here.

3. Kansas City over the Eagles last night … one bad thing about the East Coast is weeknight football is super, super late now. But it’s gonna be a lot of fun being a Chiefs fan at work in Philly today!

This is my coffee mug at work.
This is my coffee mug at work.

That’s all … that’s three … have a good weekend![subscribe2]

Operation Jack 2.0 Sneak Peak

I posted last week about how I was concerned that I might not be able to do Operation Jack any more. I was thinking it might be a thing of the past and I needed to let go of 2010. But I got a lot of feedback and came up with an idea and while I wanted to launch it this week, I’ll probably be able to spill the details next week. But a very quick overview — it follows the same premise as 2010, when I launched Operation Jack by running 61 marathons to try to raise awareness and money in my fight against autism.

I can’t run a marathon every week again (well, I could and I would, but I’d require a very large corporate donation to attempt that again and that’s not going to happen), but I can use my foundation‘s 2014 budget to have people around the country run races for Operation Jack every weekend.

If you’re planning on running a marathon (or longer distance) race next year, I want to pay for your race entry with a fundraising requirement that’s (I think) LESS than your entry fee, and the money you raise will go to the local autism-related charity of your choice. I’m also going to give you an Operation Jack tech shirt to run in and an Operation Jack medal to supplement the medal you earn in your race. If you want to participate at a shorter distance, we can work that out to.

I like raising money to give it away. This time, I’m going to give it away to raise it and give it back out. Even better! I know that sounds odd and too good to be true, but I’m pretty excited about this because I really think it’s going to re-energize my efforts to using running to fight autism. So, bottom line: Fundraising requirement that’s less than your entry fee, free entry fee, free tech shirt, free medal.

I’m still finalizing things, but like I said, I’m going to take care of your race entry fee and your fundraising requirement will be very, VERY low. And you’ll get a bonus shirt and medal. If that sounds like it might be interesting to you, let me know by dropping me an email and I’ll make sure to let you know when I post the full details (probably next week).

That’s all for that. Here’s three quick Operation Jack quick plugs before I wish you a good Labor Day Weekend:

1. Operation Jack Marathon prices are going up next Wednesday so REGISTER NOW! I mean, I don’t mind if you pay more for the entry than what we’re currently charging for it, but I also don’t mind if you get in at our currently super affordable rates ($50 half marathon, $60 marathon). So SIGN UP NOW!

2. I just bought my airline tickets to go to the 4th Annual Operation Jack Northwest Run in Portland, Oreg. Here’s the link. If you’re in the area, show up! My friend Steve Walters puts on a very fun, friendly event and I’m glad I’ll be able to be there this year.

3. If you’re in the Kansas City area, or know anybody who is, check out (or spread the word about) our event there that’s taking place on December 28.

Ok, that’s all for today. Let me know if you want me to pay for a race entry for you next year![subscribe2]