How Runners Are Helping People in Houston

In the wake of the unprecedented flooding in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey, many runners are coming together to help those in need.

When Virginia runner BethAnn Whittaker saw the devastation in Texas, she wanted to find a way to help, even though she wasn’t local. She reached out to her friend Kelly Vigil, who has experience setting up virtual runs. Within an hour, they had a registration page ready for Run For Texas 5K and 10K virtual runs. In addition to registering for the races, runners can also donate through the registration page. Whittaker and Vigil are asking participants to track their runs on social media using #RunForTexas.

“We launched the registration site on Tuesday around noon,” Vigil said. “So in less than 48 hours we have over 1,000 runners and have raised over $19,000 and it’s still going!”

100 percent of the funds raised will go to the Texas Diaper Bank and the American Red Cross. Both Whittaker and Vigil are mothers, so providing the essentials needed for young children was very important to them.

“We can’t imagine not having diapers and necessities for our children in a time like this,” Vigil said.

Both women have been in awe of the response, but are not surprised by the altruistic nature of the running community.

“I think ultimately when tragedy strikes, people naturally want to help, we’re just unsure of what to do, especially if we don’t live in the immediate area,” said Whittiker. “Our project gave people an avenue to do something tangible from their own place in the world. We may have created the spark with our little idea, but the spirit of the running community is what has caused this project to spread like wildfire.”

Ironman Efforts

The IRONMAN Foundation, the charitable arm of IRONMAN and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, is calling upon their athlete community to assist in their Harvey Relief Effort. They are offering athletes three different ways of helping those affected by the storm.

Runners can donate money directly to the IRONMAN Foundation’s Harvey Relief Efforts. The IRONMAN Foundation will match all donations made by Sept. 30, 2017, up to $10,000. A custom Humanitarian Harvey Relief Effort shirt is also available for purchase. 100 percent of the proceeds will support the IRONMAN Foundation’s Harvey Relief Efforts.

Finally IRONMAN will be organizing volunteer efforts in the Texas area in the next few months. At Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio (Dec. 2-3), IRONMAN 70.3 Texas (April 8, 2018) and Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas (April 28, 2018), athletes can volunteer at local service projects during race week. IRONMAN is hoping to provide hands-on rebuilding assistance. You can register to volunteer now.

Other Ways To Help

Many specialty running stores are finding ways to help victims of the hurricane. All Fleet Feet Sports are accepting donations of new or gently used shoes and new pairs of socks. Runners can drop them off at their nearest store location. Fleet Feet is asking that runners write the gender and size on the heel of the shoe.

Mike Rouse, who owns Run Texas in Frisco, Texas, is organizing a group run from the store on Monday, Sept. 4. He plans to donate $1 for every mile each participant runs. Since announcing the event, runners not local to the store reached out asking how they can help. Rouse set up a Just Giving page to accept monetary donations. All proceeds will be used to purchase clothing and shoes to be donated to hurricane victims.

Runners can even help with donation efforts to those outside of their sport. Kevin Sampson, men’s basketball coach at University of Houston, came up with a plan to get clothing to those who need it while involving many sports teams. He’s asking any team—men’s and women’s; high school, college, or beyond—to send 20 of their team or school shirts and ten pairs of shoes to him. Sampson will then donate these items to rescue efforts around Houston.

If you want to share other ways that runners are helping those affected in Texas, tweet it to @RunCompetitor.

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