Annual Fitness Challenge Promotes Physical Activity While Supporting Healthy Futures
May 3, 2016
R&M CONSULTANTS, INC. (R&M) is teaming up with other firms in the architectural, engineering and construction (A/E/C) community to encourage physical activity and raise funds for Healthy Futures.
Each May, R&M issues a wellness challenge to their employees and other A/E/C firms. Employees are challenged to log 100 miles during the month. Using a conversion chart, employees log miles through a variety of activities, including walking, running, biking, softball, yardwork and more. For every mile logged, R&M donates $0.25 to Healthy Futures, a local non-profit that promotes a healthy lifestyle for Alaska’s youth. Each participating firm also pledges to donate a certain amount for each mile logged by their employees. Over the last three years, the companies and agencies participating in the challenge logged more than 125,000 miles and raised nearly $25,000 for Healthy Futures.
The mission of Healthy Futures is to empower Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity through two core programs: the Healthy Futures Activity Log and increasing youth attendance at recreational events. In addition, Healthy Futures provides youth with access to positive, physically active role models through their partnership with the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, the collaborative literary publication Healthy Heroes, and classroom/event participation by local celebrity athletes such as Olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks.
“The money raised through 100 Miles in May is a great support for our programs, but another important aspect of the challenge is that it engages adults in our cause as role models. Mentorship is the most powerful form of support,” said Harlow Robinson, Executive Director of Healthy Futures.
The challenge started in 2010, when an employee of R&M invited others at the firm to log 100 miles in the month of May to support a connection in the military that had to log 100 miles during the month to meet fitness goals. The purpose of the challenge was to not only provide support, but provide a push to get moving and encourage those that aren’t typically very active to participate.
“We have people every year participating and finishing this challenge never ran a whole mile in their life before. People are nervous and intimidated because they think ‘there is no way I can do this,’ but then go for it anyway!” said Linnzi Doerr, R&M’s Accounting Supervisor and founder of the 100 Miles in May Challenge. “That’s what this challenge is all about, inspiring people that would normally have never considered a fitness challenge to just do it. It’s cool to know in some small way this challenge is making a difference and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.”
In 2013, R&M decided to use the 100 Miles in May Challenge as a way to benefit Healthy Futures and invited other firms in the industry to participate. This created not only a fundraiser supporting Healthy Futures, but a fun competition between A/E/C firms to see which firm could log the most miles during the month.
This idea came about when the executive Director of Healthy Futures at the time asked R&M’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Andrea Story, whom she knew through her child’s elementary school class, about fundraising ideas for the organization. “I thought of 100 Miles in May and how we could turn it into a fundraiser. It seemed pretty logical” said Andrea. “I suggested involving other firms as competition because Jeff Gries, another parent in my child’s class, works for Coffman Engineers and we always talked engineering smack. I knew there were quite a few active firms around town who might be interested in participating, so I cast a contact e-mail out there and reeled in a few.”
11 firms participated that first year, logging more than 28,000 miles and raising nearly $6,000 for Healthy Futures. The challenge has grown every year with 14 firms participating and more than $10,000 raised in 2015.
CRW Engineering Group, LLC (CRW) has participated in the challenge since 2013. “This was a natural fit for us because we had already been doing a similar challenge for a couple of years, but just with our arch rival Coffman Engineers,” said Brian Looney, a Principal and Civil Engineer with CRW. “I enjoy seeing how the challenge motivates people to get more active and gives them a reason to get out and enjoy our community.”
Pledges from the challenge go straight into Healthy Futures programs, including the elementary and middle school Healthy Futures Challenge (where children and schools track their physical activity and are rewarded for reaching goals) and their event support program, which assists more than 115 events that promote healthy youth activity across the state. The funding helps the organization to maintain these programs and work on further developing their middle school programs.
Healthy Futures is now using this model to expand into other industries. This year the challenge has expanded into the dental industry, with four dental offices signed up to participate.
“With the current challenges facing nonprofit organizations in Alaska due to the decreased oil prices, we tremendously appreciate and value the support of individuals and local businesses. I can’t express how grateful I am, especially to R&M for agreeing to partner with Healthy Futures on 100 Miles in May!” says Robinson.
To participate or find out more about how you and your organization can get involved with the 100 Miles in May Challenge and help support Healthy Futures empower Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity, visit http://healthyfuturesak.org/get_involved/100milesmay, call 907.351.6973 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.