A few years ago, Stephanie, one of my cross country runners was diagnosed suddenly and unexpectedly with cancer. The team and I organized fundraisers, as did the school and community, but it took two or three weeks to get everything going. In the meantime, the family was getting hit hard with expenses; just one of her prescriptions cost $700. Other students in our school system had also been hit with tragedies and on my long runs, I began thinking that we ought to set up a fund in our school system that would give immediate aid to students in such situations. I kept thinking about it and didn’t do anything until last year (when I was prodded by butterflies…another story). I asked my colleagues what they thought about it and as result The Butterfly Fund was born. (Stephanie won her battle, by the way, and within a year came out and finished a 5K).
This year the Fund has given out two $500 disbursements. The first went to two elementary school sisters who, in the same month, lost both their home to a flood and their father to a stroke. The second went to three siblings who had already lost their father, and then just lost their mother, Marna Peck, a teacher at my school, to cancer.
The Butterfly Fund has been funded almost exclusively by the teachers and staff of our school district. The goal was to have $1500 in the fund and give out $500 disbursements when necessary. Obviously the Fund has been depleted this year and teachers and staff have been trying to bring it back up. Sarah Lowell raised some donations from her Nantahala Fria race and other teachers give what they can when we pass the hat, but we still needed a little more money.
So, I presented the idea to my faculty that I would run a 24 hour race and asked if they would sponsor me for each mile I ran. (They know that I have run 100 miles in under 24 in the past, so I wasn’t trying to slip something by them). I was hoping to get just a couple hundred dollars, max, because everyone had already emptied their pockets to help Marna’s family. To my surprise, when I totaled up the pledges, if I can cover 100 miles, the faculty will donate $820.
At Wood’s Ferry, then, next Saturday, I hope to plug along strong and steady enough to collect that $820 and refill the coffers of the Butterfly Fund. And then hope we never have to use it again.