by Chuck Lovelace - VA100
While working with Outreach Africa, I was training to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. During one of my long runs, I passed an intersection where a man was holding a sign that read, “I will work for food.” As I continued to run I kept thinking about the sign, and then I thought about the work I was doing to feed the hungry. That’s when it hit me, what if I run for food? My nonprofit fund-raising background began to kick in and filled my head with ideas during the rest of my workout. My thought was to set a personal goal to run races during the year and to solicit a contribution for every mile I ran. Since a meal only costs a quarter, I thought a meal for every mile could be a good slogan. I didn’t act on any of the ideas, but I continued to think about them. I made a lot of notes and filed them away and placed them on the back burner.
In November of 2010, when my consulting role with Outreach had ended, I was trying to gear up a marketing strategy for my consulting business. Over the past few months, I had focused most of my time and energy on the hunger project and as a result I didn’t have much work in the pipeline. The problem was, I couldn’t stop thinking about the children that were dying because they didn’t have food to eat. The work so many good organizations were doing to address the hunger crisis wasn’t enough to prevent the deaths that were occurring every 3.6 seconds. Then it dawned on me, I had
found my passion and it wouldn’t let me go. It didn’t matter what else I tried to do, my mind kept coming back to the desperate need for me to do something to save lives. I began to write a business plan that would target three to five countries that needed significant help. I would incorporate some of the funding ideas I had filed on the back burner a few months earlier and take advantage of
the knowledge I had gained while working with Outreach Africa. I contacted trusted friends with whom I could share my thoughts and ideas. I sought their feedback and additional ideas on what I was about to undertake.
John T. Hewitt, President and CEO of Liberty Tax Service, has always had a passion to end hunger around the world. He has also been a friend and mentor for close to 20 years. He graciously agreed to work with me on this project. As a result of our efforts, the new organization began to take shape and Run For Food International was incorporated in December of 2010. The
official launch date was January 20, 2011 when the iRunForFood.org initiative was introduced. During the year the iBikeForFood.org and RunForFoodInternational.org websites were released. RFFI targeted Nicaragua as the first country we wanted to work with. Extensive work has been done to build a solid foundation for the organization. The Internal Revenue Service issued our 501(c) (3) tax determination in May. We are working through a short list of countries we will focus our efforts on and will announce them in the months ahead.
As of this writing RFFI has over 420 runners who have joined our team to fight hunger around the world. Our vision is to have 10,000 runners. By the way, we are not stopping with runners and bikers. iWalk, iPlay, iGolf, iRead, iHoop, iSwim and iSing are all on the drawing board. We also won’t stop with three to five countries. We will work until our mission has been achieved and deaths from hunger and hunger-related illness have been eliminated. My Inspiration part 4 has not been written yet. You can help me write it by finding a way to get involved in this important fight. You don’t have to be an athlete, or even athletic to be a part of our team. You just need to have a desire to do something, anything, to make a difference. If you don’t know what that is, contact us and we’ll figure it out together.