COVID-19 Causes 5K Fundraiser to Go Virtual

Author: Michelle Russell       


Organizers of the annual StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run — a fundraiser for Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia — have pivoted to a virtual run where participants run on their own due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

A virtual 5K sounds like the ideal event for couch potatoes. But, as it turns out, it does actually involve running. Jessica Shea, CMP, CEO & Head Event Strategist at J Shea, is planning one and learning as she goes.

When the StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run — a fundraiser for Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, that has been held annually in late May/early June for the past 13 years— seemed destined to be sidetracked by COVID-19, organizers held off as long as they could on canceling the event. Then they got the idea to make it virtual instead. That’s when they reached out to Shea notifying her of the change and asking if she could she look into how to make it happen?


Jessica Shea

When Convene spoke to Shea this week, she said that she had been spending time finding others who have organized virtual runs. “I wouldn’t say it’s a well-known thing,” she said. She’s found that everyone does it a little bit differently. Some virtual 5Ks have required participants to download an app, but Shea has decided to “keep things as easy as possible for people” and make the virtual run platform-agnostic.

Here’s how it works: The virtual StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run is a race that registrants complete independently — running, walking, or jogging the distance wherever they choose. It could be a route in their neighborhood or favorite park. The dates to complete the StarKid 5K are May 16–31. Since this is a new concept for many, the website includes a helpful FAQ page Shea helped to curate to help attendees understand what to expect.

The entry fee for registrants ages 13 and older is $25 or $35 (for a medal and t-shirt); ages 12 and under pay $15 or $25 (for a medal and t-shirt). Once they register, participants receive a virtual race bib via email, as well as an invitation to join the StarKid 5K social event community Facebook page. They can post a photo of their run and times on the Facebook page using a hashtag or can submit their photo and time via SurveyMonkey.

Registrants are encouraged to recruit family, friends, and coworkers to join their team and set a fundraising goal. The overall fundraising goal for the StarKid 5K is $250,000.

Shea is working on creating additional sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, including giving them a number of posts on the Facebook page, depending on their level of sponsorship.

Last year, the live event drew 1,600 participants, but Shea is not sure how that will translate to the virtual version. “We’re trying to do everything we can,” she said, “to get people interested and involved,” including seeking out celebrities to do “some scheduled videos.” Shea is also working on giving the Facebook community access to virtual tours — one possibility she is exploring is to work with a zoo, and other activity ideas for children while they are all home from school.

Shea has decided to, well, run with the idea and has created a fun run demo site to offer the virtual 5K service to other organizations “during this time of cancellations.”

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene magazine.

What Events Professionals Need to Know About COVID-19

PCMA has created a COVID-19 resources page to help event professionals find reliable information about the outbreak and to share events industry-related resources to ensure they are prepared.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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