When I was about 11 years old, I wanted—no, needed—a new bike. My heart insisted on a pink 10-speed in the window at the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point, Wis. But heart is not currency, and, as a kid, currency was scarce.
So I begged. I begged my parents for more chores, and when that wasn’t enough, I begged my neighbors to let me cut their grass, babysit their brats and wash their cars. I begged the people outside the grocery store until they bought my mediocre homemade cookies at French-pastry prices. I worked and saved until the day I gleefully took a hammer to my piggy bank at the cash register of the Hostel Shoppe.
Today, adult-me hires the neighbor kids to pull weeds and happily plunks down $3 for a slightly-burned snickerdoodle, because kid-me hasn’t forgotten what it’s like when passion and piggy bank fail to align.
But I will not contribute to your marathon GoFundMe.
The GoFundMe website is intended to aid in raising money for noble causes. Want to build a school for kids? Start a GoFundMe. Want to help a sick family member? GoFundMe, ASAP! Want to give a thousand orphaned kittens a home? Start a GoFundMe, and please include photos so I can make schmoompy noises. But if you simply want to race The Boston Marathon, GoFundYourself. (Unless you’re running for an important cause or nonprofit organization and fundraising money for it as well.)
About once a month, I get a request from strangers to promote a crowdfunding attempt for race costs. Sometimes it’s a person’s first marathon, sometimes it’s a bucket-list Ironman; more often than not, it’s just another race.
“Race fees are expensive!” They say. “Travel costs are through the roof! HELP ME ACHIEVE MY DREAM! SPREAD THE WORD!”
Right. Because there is no cause that deserves strangers’ philanthropy more than a hobby. I don’t know how anyone can browse this site, see a request to help a family replace a home that burned down in a Christmas Day fire, and think it appropriate to request $2,000 because you want—no, need—to fly cross-country for a marathon.
When did entitlement replace self-reliance? Have we forgotten there are bigger problems in the world than the exorbitant cost of destination races? I get it: It’s expensive. But that’s not a hardship. That’s your choice. That’s life.
If you want to fly to South Africa to race Comrades, start saving. If race fees cost too much, volunteer at the expo in exchange for free entry. If you want your dreams to come true, do the work to make it happen yourself. No one owes you a damn thing.
You best break out that piggy bank, kid.
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