Six years ago, Leslie and I decided to organize a road race in memory of Florence. Little did we know then what we could create. Or how ideas of capes and helping others could come together. Capes are optional; doing good isn’t.
Six years ago we had run plenty of races. But we had never been involved with actually RUNNING a race (i.e. organizing it). After talking with several friends we contacted Kim Page at Bull City Running Co. for her guidance and thoughts about starting a new race in Durham. Kim asked us a simple but pivotal question:
“What do you want to create?”
Our answer today remains the same as six years ago. We set out to create a race that 1) builds community, 2) provide a high-quality experience and 3) raises money towards a cure for autoimmune encephalitis (AE).
We are happy with the results so far. Over 5,600 runners and countless volunteers in the first 5 years. Florence Forth has been voted “best of” three times and been the 10K state championship the past three years. And together we have raised over $200,000 towards a cure for AE.
No single aspect of Florence Forth can be separated from the whole. Quality. Community. Fundraiser. That is what Florence Forth is for us. And we hope for you too.
Each year, we choose a theme that reflects what we want Florence Forth to represent. This year’s tagline is a fun expression of what Florence Forth has become. The theme for Florence Forth 2018 is:
Capes are optional. Doing good isn’t.
We will be building on these ideas over the next five months. We hope you find the theme fun yet challenging. For me it evokes superheroes and our common desire to do our best.
Every child learns at a young age that superheroes wear capes. Capes help heroes fly, deflect evil and become invisible. As adults, our heroes may wear different types of capes. You might see a nurse’s white smock as a cape as she cares for a sick child. Or perhaps a plate of food from a neighbor triggers a hero in your mind. A simple smile from a stranger on a hard day can serve as a cape reminder.
Our hero Florence wore a pink cape while she bravely battled AE in the hospital. Those who contributed to her care and our well-being wore capes without even knowing it. Community is built by those wearing capes. That’s why Florence Forth’s logo is a caped runner.
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a hero. And you definitely don’t have to wear one while running Florence Forth, though you can. Capes are optional but encouraged at Florence Forth.
Often there are heroes in our midst but we are unable see their capes. Other times we hide our own capes for fear of being recognized as the heroes we are. When you participate in Florence Forth, you’re a hero to those AE families that you are helping. You’re a hero whether wearing a cape or not!
In today’s world, the good around us is not celebrate often enough. At Florence Forth we want to celebrate doing good. Think of all the ways you do good each day for yourself or in your community. Over the coming weeks and months, we will try to highlight the good around us.
Whether volunteering at a local nonprofit, helping a neighbor or simply voting, you are building community. Do you walk, run or bike during the day? These are ways we do good for ourselves both physically and mentally.
Just by participating in Florence Forth, you are doing good. All race proceeds from Florence Forth are donated to the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance, a local non profit dedicated to finding a cure for Florence’s disease.
What’s not optional in your life?
For us, organizing Florence Forth isn’t optional. This is a race that has become an integral part of who we are. Florence Forth is our cape to honor Florence and help all those who are struggling with AE. For us, capes are optional but Florence Forth isn’t.
We invite you to mark your calendars and join us on March 3, 2018 for the sixth annual Florence Forth road race. Whether you run, walk, volunteer, sponsor or just come out to cheer the participants, you’ll be doing good for the community! Capes are optional; doing good isn’t.