Walk, run, pledge, volunteer: Austin 5K fundraisers

It’s 5k season, and that means runners, walkers, strollers, dogs, people in costumes, dogs in costumes, people in ambulances, people cheering from sidewalks, and volunteers take over the streets. I’ve done dozens of 5ks, so allow me to share …

Found under "slow" in the dictionary.

“Monica’s Tips for a Fun 5K”:

1. Wake up at least 10 minutes before the run starts.

2. Park right next to the starting line. Everyone thinks they’d never get parking that close, so nobody tries. Plenty of spaces.

3. Line up ahead of the strollers to avoid being clipped by lazy babies.

4. Wait for the starting horn, then walk calmly to the starting line. What’s the rush?

5. Start running when you finally have room, about 10 minutes after the horn. Take every water break.

6. Find a nemesis — I usually choose a woman fitter looking than I am who I want to eat my dust — and pursue that person until you realize you’re finished with the race.

7. After the race, head straight for the car. Stop by “Tacos & Donuts” on HWY 290 on the way home.

Now go!

Water 2 Thrive 5K
Saturday, September 18
Start Time: 8:30 AM, 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Hill Country Galleria, Bee Cave, Tex.
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$28 adults, $12 kids registration fee. “Our current efforts are supporting rural and impoverished communities in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.”

Colin’s Hope Kids Triathlon
Sunday, September 19
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Lake Pointe Swim Center
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$30- $35 kids registration fee. There will be multiple age groups from 5 to 15 years old. No team competition. This race is designed to build confidence by allowing each young athlete to complete all three disciplines on their own. We will have participation awards, T-shirts, goody bags, and age-group awards.

CASA Superhero Run
Sunday, September 19
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 8:00 AM, 8:45 AM
Register Online
Location: The Domain
Distance: 5K timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$25- $30 adults, $15- $20 kids registration fee. Create a personal fundraising page. Superhero costume contest. Photobooth, craft tables, moonwalk. “Because every child needs a hero, but abused children need superheroes.”

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PurpleStride
Saturday, September 25
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 8:00 AM, 8:15 AM
Register Online
Location: Hill Country Galleria, Bee Cave, Tex.
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k fun run
$30 registration fee. Create a personal fundraising page.

NAMI Austin Walk
Saturday, October 2
Onsite Registration
: 8:00 AM
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Walk begins and ends at Auditorium Shores Parking Lot at the corner of W. Riverside Drive and S. 1st Street
Distance: 5k
No registration fee. All walkers must register to participate. Walk will take place rain or shine.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk
Saturday, October 16
Onsite Registration:
5:00 AM
Start Time: 7:30 AM
Register Online
Location: Lake Park at Mueller
Distance: 5k
No registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for LLS.

Saturday, October 23
Start Time:
8:00 AM
Register Online
Location: South 1st St. Bridge over Lady Bird Lake
Distance: 5k
$35 registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for LIVESTRONG.

Dell Children’s 5K and Family Fun Fair
Saturday, October 30
Start Time:
8:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Dell Children’s Medical Center, Mueller
Distance: 5k and 1k
$30 adults, $10 kids registration fee. All money raised for this event, through generous sponsors and participants, will go to help the areas of greatest need at Dell Children’s and to establish the Carl Teel Music Endowment here at the medical center.

Walk to Cure Diabetes
Sunday, October 31
Onsite Registration:
10:00 AM
Start Time: 11:30 AM
Register Online
Location: Walk begins and ends at Auditorium Shores Parking Lot at the corner of W. Riverside Drive and S. 1st Street
Distance: 2 miles
No registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for Junior Diabetes Research Foundation.

SAT, June 5: Dads, we need you!

River City Youth Foundation Father's Parade and FiestaFather’s Day is still a couple of weeks away, but let’s face it  — dads have no idea when Father’s Day actually is. Bless their hearts.

So you won’t spoil anything if you bring him to the River City Youth Foundation‘s 10th Annual Father’s Day Parade & Festival. In fact, I’m sure he’ll love it.

This celebration just makes sense. RCYF believes that father’s play an important role in a child’s academic and general well being, so it offers this event as a way to seal that bond between dads and their kids. And in the end, dads will be glad they went.

River City Youth Foundation Father's Parade and Fiesta

The celebration kicks off with a parade — which you can be in! — starting at Mendez Middle School at 11:30 and ending the RCYF on Pleasant Valley by noon. Once you’re there, you’ll get to do a little Flying Pinto Game, a Dragon Game, a watermelon seed spitting contest, (of course, dads love spitting) and more. Then they’ll read some essays written by students, hand out a couple of awards and crown a few dads. Crowns! What dad doesn’t love crowns?!

River City Youth Foundation Father's Parade and Fiesta

No one else in Austin offers a celebration of dads like this, and River City Youth Foundation has been doing it for 10 years. Check out this video to see families having a great time at previous years’ events.

I hope you’ll check it out, and then tell us all about it….

River City Youth Foundation’s
10th Annual Father’s Parade & Fiesta


11:30 am – 2 p.m.
5208 South Pleasant Valley Road (map here)

Introducing … the Austin fundraising event calendar

Since the beginning, one of the killer apps (does anyone use that term anymore?) we planned for GivingCity Austin was a fundraising events calendar. If you’ve ever tried to organize a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, one of the hardest things to come up with was the date – you don’t want to compete with another fundraiser or, worse, a Longhorns game.

Beyond planning, a calendar of Central Texas fund raising events would hopefully garner enough eyes to serve as a cross-promotional tool, too. When a nonprofit publicizes its fund raiser, it struggles to reach beyond its own group of supporters for attendees.

Right now I’m in love with Eventbrite. It seems like lots of Austin events are taking advantage of its simple platform, promotion and ticket selling tools. I’ve registered for a number of events through Eventbrite myself, and found it totally easy to use.

The GivingCity Austin fundraising calendar wouldn’t replace online applications like that. In fact, it could link directly to your Eventbrite page. Rather it would include your event on a public calendar – online, in email blasts and in the magazine – publicizing your event to anyone who comes to or gets GivingCity.

(And the other part of the plan is that everyone would come to or get GivingCity to see the fundraising calendar.)

Oy. Don’t get me started about how excited I am about this calendar thing.

I’m looking for feedback, ideas, requests as we speak. And we have top men working on the development now. Top. Men.

Stay tuned!

“Happiness Is” not found in a solid-surface countertop

Happiness IsIt’s hard to write a thoughtful reaction to a film that left me so emotional. And I wasn’t the only one. There were quite a few beefy guys walking out of the theater with puffy, watery eyes last night, too.

But “Happiness Is” by Austin’s Andrew Shapter will do that to you. It’s not that it’s a sad film by any means. In fact, it’s pretty hilarious. Shapter interviewed some characters, for sure. The woman who admitted to thinking that happiness could be found in a solid-surface countertop sticks in my mind. (HINT: It can’t.)

What it is is hopeful because the message is this: Happiness is within your reach. It’s not something to strive for, it’s something you find within yourself. For proof, Shapter talks to happiness historians (they exist), scientists, and anthropologists. They’ve done the research and can pinpoint exactly when most Americans stopped being happy. (HINT: Rampant materialism, duh!)

Then, to further prove his point, he interviewed an incredible mix of people from all over the country – men, children, immigrants, scholars, artists, musicians, comedians, old people…. Though they all get there differently, eventually they all come to the same conclusion.

There are a couple of things you should know about the film:

1. It’s going on a screening tour around the country, and they’re paying for that tour in DVD sales. If a quarter of the population in America saw this film, it could change this country for the better. Seriously. So if you can swing the DVD, buy it here: http://www.happinessisthemovie.com/blog/shop/

2. The film is being used to raise money for the sponsoring nonprofit. In the case of last night’s screening, the nonprofit beneficiary is Mobile Loave & Fishes, the organization that takes food out to the homeless and is run by the incredible Alan Graham. (He’s featured in the film.) You can support that organization here.: http://www.mlfnow.org/site/PageServer

There were hundreds of people at this screening last night. I wonder what they’re thinking today.

How Austin Does Earth Day: Calendar of Earth Day Events

By Amanda D. Quraishi

Earth Day is officially observed on April 22, but we celebrate it all month in Austin. With so many opportunities to celebrate, there’s no excuse not to. Remember, this is what “Don’t Mess with Texas” is all about.

APRIL 18: Earth Day: Gateway to the Green Economy
The Austin Farmers’ Market presents a series of events for the entire family, starting with the Austin Farmer’s Market and eARTh Day Expo. Visitors can expect to find lots of local produce and nature-inspired art. There is a special area set up for Kids; and a free Solar Jam concert featuring local musicians who have each donated a 30-minute set. Sponsors, exhibitors, performers and volunteers are all needed.

Date: Saturday, April 18, 9:00am – 3:00pm
Location: Republic Square Park (4th and Guadalupe)

APRIL 17-19: Green Apple Festival

The Green Apple Festival is a nationwide celebration of Earth Day founded in 2006 by executive producer Peter Shapiro. Cities across the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Denver participate by coordinating a series of volunteer opportunities which meet the unique needs of the communities in which they are held. This year, Austin’s Green Apple Festival volunteer opportunities include the Shoal Creek Cleanup, Green Gardening with Keep Austin Beautiful, and the YMCA Healthy Kids Day. Visit the Volunteer link to learn about and sign up for all of the events being held this year.

Date: April 17-19
Location: All over Austin!

April 17-18: LCRA / McKinney Roughs Nature Park Earth Day Festival

The LCRA and McKinney Roughs Nature Park are teaming up for a series of fun events over the weekend before Earth Day.  The fun begins on Friday, April 17 with Stargazing at the Roughs.  The next day the Earth Day Festival features crafts, activity booths, nature and animal presentations, vendors, food and music.  Later that day the Earth Day Kayak Trip allows kids and adults to enjoy the Colorado River wildlife and scenery.

Date: April 17-18
Location: McKinney Roughs Nature Park, Hwy 71 13.2 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on the westbound side.
Contact: (512) 303-5073  / outdoorprograms@lcra.org
Volunteers: outdoorprograms@lcra.org

APRIL 22: Keep Austin Beautiful: Lady Bird Lake Cleanup (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED)
KAB will lead a team of volunteers to clean up the beloved Lady Bird Lake and Trail.  This area is a favorite destination for thousands of Austinites each week and we all have a stake in keeping it beautiful.

Date: April 22
Location: North shore of Lady Bird Lake underneath I35
Contact: Andrea Dravigne, 610-7768 or dravignea@nwf.org
Volunteers: http://forms.keepaustinbeautiful.org.s27.dotnetsql.com/Forms/VolunteerApplication.aspx

APRIL 22: ACES: Earth Day Luncheon
The Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability will hold a luncheon, silent auction and musical reception along with other fun events at Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.
Date: April 22, noon
Location: Ruby Rupner Auditorium / Jay C. Hormel Nature Center
Contact: Susan Hurm, shurm@hotmail.com
Volunteers: Susan Hurm, shurm@hotmail.com

APRIL 22: Free Reusable Bags from HEB

In celebration of Earth Day, H-E-B is striving to remove 1.5 million plastic bags from the environment.  Next Wednesday, April 22 from 3pm to 7 pm, customers can bring in 5 plastic bags and receive one reusable bag for free. H-E-B hopes to give out 300,000 reusable bags in a four-hour period. No purchase is necessary, but there is a limit of one free reusable bag per customer, and the free bags will only be available between 3 P.M. – 7 P.M. while supplies last.

Date: April 22, 3:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: All HEB stores

APRIL 25-26: Eastside Café: Recycling Challenge! (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!)
The Eastside Café is calling for volunteers to join teams of non-profit organizations for the Art City Austin Recycling Challenge.  Volunteers will man recycling stations and the winning team will receive $1000 for the non-profit organization.  As an incentive, the volunteers will receive free admission to the festival (regular ticket price is $8/$15 for two-day pass), a t-shirt, and an invitation to the volunteer appreciation party.  Art City Austin is a fantastic art festival with over 20,000 visitors expected this year.

Date: April 25-26
Location: Along Cesar Chavez Street from Colorado Street to Lamar
Contact: (512-476-5858 / eastside@io.com
Volunteers: www.eastsidecafeaustin.com/recyclingchallenge/volunteer.html

Amanda Quraishi is a freelance writer, professional blogger and activist.  She’s spent nine years working in the trenches of the Austin non-profit community in roles ranging from volunteer to executive director.  This year she was honored by the National Women’s History Project as one of the Women Helping to Save the Planet because of her work on her sustainable style blog Fashion, Evolved (www.evolvedfashion.com).  You can learn more about Amanda’s freelance writing on her online Ezine: www.theqreation.com.

Free caregivers’ conference offers resources and support Sat., Sept 27

I was lucky to have had a third parent in my mother’s mother, who lived with my family my whole life until she died just after I graduated from college. In the beginning, she took care of us four kids and my parents. Toward the end, we mostly took care of her.

She had severe arthritis and used a walker for years. I remember using hyrdogen peroxide to clean the incisions from surgeries on her knees, massaging her back and shoulders sore from the walker, giving her her nightly prescriptions, helping her get dressed, and lots of other things I never thought about. I guess I assumed every teenage girl spent Friday night cutting her grandmother’s toenails.  I’m not going to say it was easy or that I always enjoyed it. It was tough. But it really felt like the least we could do since she practically raised us.

Anyone who’s taken care of an elderly or ill loved-one knows how tough that can be – and lonely. And even though it’s inevitable that some of us will take on this role sometime in our lives, most of us go it alone without the support we need to maintain our sanity.

On Saturday, September 27, AGE of Austin will host the 7th Annual caregivers’ conference, “Striking a Balance,” aimed at anyone who finds themself in that role now. The conference will help you find the resources and support you need to manage caregiving responsiblities and make them work with the rest of your life.

They offer a light breakfast and lunch – and they’ll care for your loved on while you attend the conference. Elderhaven Adult Day Center of Austin and Williamson County has signed on, but you’ll have to call them to make reservations at 512-458-6305.

7th Annual Caregivers’ Conference – FREE
Saturday, September 27, 2008
2525 West Anderson Lane, Northcross Mall
Norris Conference Center – Red Oak Ballroom
9 AM – 2 PM
Doors open 8:30 AM for registration
Light breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Go to Age of Austin for more information.

MAY 24: Habitat Young Leaders Gala

Here’s a good reason to buy a new cocktail dress tonight: Habitat Young Professionals second annual gala. The operative word on this one is “young,” so think fun, food, cool music and a great location.

In fact, if you haven’t been to the Long Center yet, here’s your chance. Just picture yourself walking into this gorgeous new facility, choosing from an array of catered foods from Upper Crust, Moonshine, Kenichi, The Belmont and about 10 other restaurants, and moving about to the tunes of Sprung. Great way to spend a Saturday night and a great way to support one of Austin’s biggest nonprofits.

See more about it here. Tickets are $75 each, $125 per couple… and you can even buy them online right now!

2008 Build the HYP Gala
May 24, 8:00PM
The Long Center for Performing Arts
Proceeds from the Gala will directly support building Austin Habitat for Humanity homes for those in need.
Purchase your tickets ($75 single/$125 couple) at