James Dugan lives in Chicago, and raised $2,220 for the emergency response in Beirut by organizing and running a 10K in August. Humanity & Inclusion is grateful to James (pictured above & below) and his fellow runners for each step they took to send care & aid to the victims of the Aug. 4 explosions. He took time recently to share his story:
When the explosion in Beirut happened, I felt like we had to help out. For the past few weeks, my friends and I had been planning a 10K charity race—in part to motivate a friend recovering from an ACL injury, and also to break outside again, after so many other runs had been cancelled due to Covid. I found out about Humanity & Inclusion’s work in Beirut from a New York Times article providing information about different ways to help, and the mission of HI just struck me as the right way to go.
I had posted information about the race, due to happen on Aug. 22, on Facebook and Instagram, and a lot of people jumped at the opportunity to challenge themselves. People all over the US and Canada wanted to run.
We started a Facebook group where everyone could post their training runs, ask for advice, or share their favorite running songs. The positivity in that group was one of my favorite parts of the whole process. Most of the people running were friends of mine in Chicago, but we also had people in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, New York, and Canada who had never met each other being so supportive and encouraging.
We obviously couldn’t all run together due to Covid, so we decided on a universal start time: 9am Central. That way, we would all at least be running at the time. For those of us running in Chicago, we picked a landmark statue called “Self-Portrait”, created by Keith Haring. It’s on the lake shore, and runners had to incorporate in some way during the run. One of the runners, Jackie, made custom tie-dyed masks for a lot of us.
The day of the race was great! Since we all had to use the same landmark, you ended up seeing people along the run even though everyone was free to pick their own route. My friend Andy just ran to the statue and completed over four miles worth of laps around it.
The runners found another cool way of raising money, which was by selling off spots on their running playlists. For a donation of $3-$5, anyone could pick a song that you had to listen to on your run. I finished a little behind the pace I wanted, coming in at 1:03:34, but it still felt like we really accomplished something. It was nice to feel connected to a community again in a time where that is rare. An added bonus? My friend’s ACL turned out to be well healed for the run!