December 9, 2020

This year has been unlike any that we, as a society, have ever experienced. We have faced months of uncertainty. Many of us have lost jobs and loved ones. And many of us have faced or are facing the personal challenges of how to stay positive and motivated as we were/are facing time alone.  

This year has seen hardship, divide and overall feelings of craziness. Yet despite all of that, we have also seen so many people reaching out to help, looking for ways to do more, finding new and inventive ways to connect both with others and with personal passions. 

So, overall, if I had to describe 2020 in one word, I think it would be: Inspirational. 

As this year comes to an end, we at Wander Project are working to make our final donations to organizations across the country. We are reviewing the totals that athletes were able to raise by engaging their friends and family (mostly virtually) to support them in doing more with their passion for getting out and moving. 

Historically, we primarily fund projects within the communities that host our in-person events. Earlier this year, we sent fundraisers a survey to help us identify which projects they would like to see funded and they came up with 3 main project areas including: preservation and conservation of public lands; education around local ecology and stewardship; and promotion of health and wellbeing of communities. 

However, once the pandemic hit and we expanded to include virtual events, we also had the opportunity to expand our reach with communities. Now that people were running races in their hometowns, we wanted to encourage them to support local beneficiaries that helped make THEIR community better. 

So, this year and because of our inspirational athletes, we have been able to raise $208,453.07! 

Our last round of grant awards went out last week and we are proud to support efforts around our three project areas for our in-person events and some special organizations through our virtual events. Below is a list of organizations and projects that were supported for the last part of 2020:

  • Friends of the Smokies $5,109.70- Conservation and Preservation in and around Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
  • Rocky Mountain Conservancy $4,662.80- General operating to support restoration/education efforts around the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires
  • Canyon Conservancy $2,487.13- To support their educational facility
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners $2,387.74- Support for a new facility that will provide education around local ecology and cultural history
  • Yellowstone Forever $469.15- Resiliency Program
  • Navajo Yes $1,090- Promotion of health and wellbeing on the Navajo Reservation¬†
  • Joshua Tree National Park Association $3,248.64- Desert Institute: outreach and education including virtual modules to connect people to the park during closures
  • Mount Rushmore Society $1,892.16- Youth Programs/Summer Intern Program
  • Zion Regional Collaborative $5,000- Environmental Clearances for Pathway connecting local communities to the park
  • Chesapeake Conservancy $3,383.91- Assist with their efforts to create the Chesapeake National Recreation Area
  • Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation- $2,220 Support research and treatment of colorectal cancer

This important work, in and around the special places that inspire us to run, could not have been possible without the love and support of our amazing athletes! 

We know that, for most of us, we cannot wait to ring in a new year, filled with new possibilities. We hold a lot of hope for what 2021 will bring. Hope that we will all be able to be together again for in-person events, and hope that we can do even more for community beneficiaries across the country. If you are planning to participate in an in-person or virtual event for 2021, we hope that you will pledge to do it with a charity bib, because we know that we can do more together.

For more information on charity bibs or to apply to be a community partner for one of our events please contact amy@wanderproject.org

About the author 

Amy Ben-Horin

Amy has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 14 years. While her work has primarily been focused within the youth and education realm, she, like most people in the nonprofit sector, has worn almost every hat imaginable, including co-founder for an organization in 2014. Amy has also had the honor of presenting at TEDx Vail in 2016, sharing what she believes is the key to helping youth reach their full potential. Stepping into the role of Executive Director for another start-up organization, Amy is passionate about service to others and is extremely excited to help support the amazing mission of Wander Project.

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