This weekend is another milestone for me. One year ago today, I set out to run Speedgoat 50k, a tough trail race in Snowbird, UT. While I didn’t cross the finish line, I still consider it a successful day.
Speedgoat was my first Small Change race, benefiting Push to the Finish, an organization that provides opportunities for children with physical limitations to experience the enjoyment, competition, and sense of accomplishment of participating in a running race. My $25 donation covered a race registration for one determined kid.
Small Change is an initiative I launched to donate money to organizations making a difference in the communities we visit for a race or adventure. Or put another way, I founded Small Change because at the heart of it, I’m just a broke philanthropist who wants to give back.
To celebrate my one-year anniversary of launching Small Change, I reached out to Andrew McMahon, founder of Push to the Finish to learn more about his organization and what he’s been up to since I shared his story one year ago.
A long-time runner, Andrew has completed in many races and experienced firsthand the excitement that comes with crossing a finish line. When kids join Push to the Finish, barriers are removed, possibilities seem limitless, and an active lifestyle becomes reality. “There’s nothing like running for someone else to provide for them a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment of completing a race,” says McMahon.
Andrew was inspired by Rick and Dick Hoyt—the father-and-son team who have competed in hundreds of races and athletic endeavors (Rick is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and is pushed in a mobility chair by his dad, Dick)—and wanted to give kids in Utah the thrill and satisfaction of racing.
Since starting Push to the Finish in January 2012, 750 kids have crossed finish lines at 52 races, translating to roughly 2,300 inspiring miles. Most of the kids who participate in races rely on a mobility device; however, some are able to get out and walk the final steps to victory themselves.
Andrew knew that kids would cross the finish line with big smiles, but what he didn’t anticipate was the network of parents that would be formed outside of the races. “There’s been a tremendous bond between the running community and special needs kids.”
This year Push to the Finish is focusing on raising funds to purchase mobility devices. Many race participants are using old, antiquated wheel chairs that aren’t suitable for racing, let alone day-to-day needs. Through generous donations, Push to the Finish has been able to grow a fleet of chairs for use during races. Andrew’s goal is to raise money to give mobility devices to families outside of races, but they aren’t cheap—they can range from $500-600 on up to $3,000-$5,000.
My last question to Andrew was what he is most proud of? He didn’t hesitate to respond, “the courage of the kids.”
SMALL CHANGE, BIG IMPACT
Nearly 20 organizations have benefited from the Small Change initiative and combined have received a total of $465. I’m extremely proud of what has been raised and am grateful to those who have embraced the initiative and have given back. Through you, I’ve learned about organizations that are changing lives, empowering our neighbors, and making our communities stronger.
As you head out for your next race or adventure, my ask is that you add to the growing Small Change Beneficiary list. Here’s how it works:
- Choose an organization meaningful to you in your race destination’s city/state
- Donate directly to the organization (whatever amount you choose)
- Fill out the short form by clicking on the yellow “share your Small Change story” button
- The organization will be featured here—on Adventures in Thumbholes and shared on social media
Nonprofits are the champions of our communities—the unsung heroes. Push to the Finish is just one of the many organizations that have stories that need to be told—and your few dollars will go a long way to nourish our communities.
My dream job is to be a professional philanthropist to support the many organizations where we race and adventure, but until that day comes, I need your help. Together, our Small Change can add up to something good for our communities.
And that’s the story of how a broke philanthropist gives back.
Thank you, Andrew, for your time and all that you do to empower kids in your community.