Need money for travel or uniforms.....here are some instructions on organizing and coordinating a “24-Hour Run” fundraiser that have evolved from nearly 20 years of trial-and-error at one institution and routinely lead to an annual $10,000+ profit with absolutely no inventory, minimal hassle, and tremendous increase in team spirit for everyone involved. As difficult as it may be to imagine, the event at every school may actually be anticipated rather than dreaded.

Although these instructions are specific to one type of approach, school teams may easily adjust the goals, timeframes, or methods to fit their own unique situations.

The Format

The 24-Hour Run is a fundraiser where student-athletes receive pledges per mile for distance run by an entire cross country team in a 24-our period. Athletes do not run for the entire timeframe but are platooned around the clock in order to give them rest, allow them to have fun, and keep the quality of the track time at a maximum. Each athlete runs a mile segment and hands off a baton to the next runner in order while a recorder keeps track of the athlete name, time, and overall tally of miles. Pledges are received in advance either as a flat donation or preferably per mile. It is entirely possible to have a platooned group (60 co-ed runners -- 3 squads of 20 running 4-hour segments) complete in excess of 240 miles. A goal of $1.00 total in pledges per athlete ($240 in fundraising per athlete) yields a tremendous income.

The Set-Up

Finding the timeframe to conduct the event may be one of the most challenging things of all. Since you will be using a track & field stadium, coordination with others who use the facility (football, soccer, community) is important. In addition, working the event around your competitive season (athletes may very well be awake for most of the 24-hour period) as well as other events (dances, socials, final exams) is critical. Finally, planning the event prior to an upcoming travel race or team experience, camp, or clinic might help as you can use some leverage of the upcoming event to help motivate the athletes to return pledge sheets and tidy up their accounts.

Begin by emphasizing the fundraising need but more importantly, the uniqueness of having fun together and staying at the school for potentially 24 consecutive hours, an event which is uncommon to say the least. Enlist the support of each student-athlete, stating a common minimal goal of fundraising ($1.00 per athlete in total pledges on their sheet is a super start) and possibly stating some of the uses of the funds that will have a direct impact on the quality of their team experience. Also stress the ‘fun’ aspect of the competitiveness of the event, the overall team goals of mileage totals, and the smaller things such as food, music, etc. that will accompany the event.

To prepare, consider the following items:

1.) Contact the media in advance to enlist their support and advertise (free) for you, as well as come out to cover the event, adding coverage and recognition to your team.

2.) Contact local law enforcement and/or school police in order to blunt any potential complaints (“The lights are on over at the school!”) and also to increase patrolling, cutting down on undesirables who may be drawn to the event and its odd hours. Invite police to join you at certain times for pizza or treats.

3.) Arrange with your school custodial staff and administration to allow lights in the stadium, or if there are no lights, set up alternatives (cars, generators, etc.).

4.) Compose a list of basic rules of the event that covers your team expectations (no others allowed but team members, no conduct unbecoming a team member, etc.).

5.) Arrange a supervisory schedule that includes some degree of rest for all coaches and supervisors.

6.) Set up activities during runner “down-time” such as gym activities in any adjoining facility, or video game tournaments.

7.) Assign team support personnel to prepare treats and major food items (soups, chili, spaghetti, hot dogs) and squad when that will arrive so that fresh things arrive around the clock.

8.) Consider cordoning off areas for food (out of gyms) as well as securing areas for lockers and warm-up or alternatives if you do not have an adjacent gym.

9.) Adjust the event according to your team numbers, facilities, community and District rules or policies and unique situational needs.

The Specifics

Starting from several weeks in advance, add to the above list the following team organizational structure:

2 Weeks:

1.) Prepare, number (for accounting), and distribute pledge sheets. Instruct athletes to make the first pledge a fairly substantial one as successive pledges will most likely follow in like denomination (i.e. a 1c. pledge seems to encourage more 1c. pledges . . . and a 10c. pledge encourages more 10c. pledges).

2.) Break down the team into similar numbers per running group. A team of 40 male and female would have 3 groups of 13+ athletes. A team of 60 leads to 3 groups of 20.

3.) Allow the team to select the timeframe they desire to be on the track (which rotation). Starting at 2:00pm on a Friday allows for 4 hour blocks of 2-6, 6-10, and 10-2. Athletes get BOTH ends of the clock . . .that is 2:00pm-6:00pm AS WELL AS 2:00am-6:00AM !!! Ending on a Saturday afternoon is super for news coverage, speed, and convenience.

4.) Encourage athletes to take the pledge sheet out to:

a. businesses in the area

b. churches they may attend

c. responsible school classmates

d. school supporters and boosters

e. places where they work (or parents work)

5.) Arrange for recorder/secretarial help around the clock to time and record every mile.

1 Week

1.) Check every athlete’s progress towards the overall ‘per sheet’ pledge goal. If anyone is dramatically under guidelines, offer suggestions to help.

2.) Assign treat responsibilities to boosters, parents, or athletes.

3.) Make all last minute arrangements on food, purchase orders, etc.

1 Day

1.) Check weather reports and adjust for prevalent conditions.

2.) Meet with all student-athletes and their pledge sheets. Go over runner rotations, how important the time schedule is, and organize a last minute push for pledges. Make a copy of each pledge sheet to use for back-up in case an original is lost.

3.) Arrange for a pizza pick-up (11:00pm at night?).

4.) Print control signs, make copies of runner rotations and post at the track and/or ready areas.

5.) Make copies of recorder sheets. Arrange a 3-ring binder to protect the sheets. Prepare your equipment.

6.) Prepare the recording position of your managerial staff (tent or EZ-Up, table, chairs) at the finish line.

The Start

The equipment you should prepare prior to the start will include:

1. Starting gun

2. Baton

3. Recording 3-ring binder and numerous pencils/pens

4. 2 stopwatches