New York stand up comedian and yoga instructor Abigoliah Schamaun is training for the Brighton Half Marathon to raise money for local charity Rise. Abigoliah is sharing the pain, blisters and smugness that comes with training for the marathon, today she tells us of how she has become 'that friend.' You can sponsor her here!
The Brighton Half Marathon has two ways you can sign up to run. The first option is to sign up, get a place, and run as an individual, or two – you can sign up, get a place and run for a charity. Thus spending the months preceding raising money. When I signed up option one had been filled up, leaving me with the choice of running for a charity or not at all.
I remember thinking "Great, now if I do this I'll be 'that friend.'" Everyone has got one, That friend who is always pestering you about their fundraising efforts. That friend who's constantly instagramming cookies for their bake sale and screenshots of their donation page. Basically, if I was going to do this, I would become a self-righteous pain in the ass.
I almost scrapped the whole idea but then I saw Rise listed among the charities. Being from the US, I'm not familiar with a lot of UK charities, but I do know Rise and I'm a fan.
Rise is RISE is a Sussex domestic abuse charity that provides vital support, refuge accommodation, helpline and counselling, financial and legal advice, children's services and training and preventative education to those who need it. I know them, because they regularly team up with Funny Women for Brighton Nights, a monthly comedy night at Komedia Brighton where a portion of the tickets go towards Rise. It's a great night of entertainment if I do say so myself. And it's one of the few nights out I've ever heard of where you can laugh, get pissed, all while making a difference.
In the great scheme of things Rise was asking its runners to raise a small amount. Basically, if I couldn't get anyone to donate money, I could cover the cost. But still I was apprehensive.
I grew up in a family that was pro donating to charities, but not a big fan of being the one raising money. I guess it was because along with having four children who were constantly asked to raise money for choir, band, theatre (we weren't sports kids) my parents had there own circle of friends raising money for the local clinic, cancer research, or some women's auxiliary of one thing or the other. I think they were constantly bombarded by one friendly face or another asking for them to buy or support this or that. They'd write a cheque, close the door, eyes would roll and then the door bell would ring aagain and the charade would repeat itself.
But as I said I was a fan of Rise, and I wanted to run The Half so I signed up. And though the fundraising effort was the part I was looking forward to least, I approached it with positive gusto, and it's been highlight of my experience. I was able to raise the required amount by January 1st, and have now exceeded the amount!
The support has been overwhelming. I thought I'd have to beg my closest friends and family to cough up some dough. But there was no begging required. My mother thought it was so cool she donated TWICE without rolling her eyes once!
There's a couple of types of people who seem happy to give to this sort of thing. One: other runners. I'm going to assume most race runners have fundraised at least once in there life thus happy to lend a fiver. My friend Emma Lovell, was in the midst of her own fundraising campaign to climb to Mt. Everest Base camp (and I thought a half was hardcore) and she took the time to make a donation to my efforts. Two: people who live in the area. I have a few friends in the Brighton and Hove area and their support surprised and touched me a lot. I think one of the benefits of raising money for a local charity is the residents of the area see that charities impact in their community in a bigger way then an international charity. (Though, let's be honest, they're all good)
I even got in touch with Funny Women to let them know what I was up to and the amazing Rosanna Farrar, who runs Brighton Nights agreed to let me headline an evening where 100% of the tickets would go towards Rise. And what happened that night? I can't remember…oh yeah…IT SOLD OUT!! At this point in time the total is still being added up but I know it's several hundred pounds.
I've had a blast raising money for Rise. Seeing people pledge online and wish me luck has kept me motivated. Seeing the Rise Team at Brighton Nights was incredibly encouraging. Instead of just running 13.1 miles for me and my own fitness goals, I feel like part of a community. And I'm happy that I've gotten to be part of it.
Right now it's 12 days till The Half. In my JustGiving.com account is £233.27. I'm so thankful to everyone who's donated to Rise and kept my spirits up when it's cold, raining, and the last thing I was to do is a training run. I thought I'd hate becoming 'That friend', but I love it. I love writing little thank-yous on people's Facebook walls. I love sharing both my running and fundraising efforts with the public. And I love that Funny Women immediately jumped on board and helped tip it all over the edge. Thank you again to everyone who's donated.
If anyone else would like to throw a few more scheckles in the pot, there's still time to donate. Of course at the end of this post I'm going to ask you to donate. After all, I'm 'that friend'…