By Abby Melgren, volunteer outreach coordinator
When the summer heat is unbearable, and when the hill just a few paces away is unthinkable, one thing keeps me going: I’m running for a reason.
Unbound first took part in Hospital Hill Run in 2014, and later became one of the first Charity Partners. In 2014, the Unbound Trailblazer program was launched, giving both sponsors and Unbound supporters a way to support scholarship students through fundraising. The first Trailblazers quickly learned that the name of the race is a bit misleading. There’s not just one hill, but many.
However, the partnership is too important to let a few hills scare us off.
As Unbound continues to seek new ways to meet people of goodwill, Hospital Hill Run and the Trailblazer program have helped raise awareness of Unbound’s work within the running community — a group of passionate and committed people. Countless times, runners have approached me with questions about my shirt and Unbound, and expressed excitement about the work Unbound does.
This race has also proven a good way to build relationships between sponsors, donors and staff members. Too often I only know sponsors by a name and email address. Meeting sponsors face-to-face (or even running next to them for 3 miles) makes the relationships more real.
Over the years, I have heard beautiful stories from sponsors who’ve come to Kansas City for Hospital Hill Run and visit the Unbound office for the first time. Their devotion and care for their sponsored friends makes my work all the more joyful to do.
This year on June 2, 73 Unbound Trailblazers arrived ready to run or walk the 5K. With photos of their sponsored friends pinned to their shirts, these Trailblazers conquered the hill on behalf of families around the world. The next morning, 16 more Trailblazers endured an even greater number of hills while running in the 10K or half marathon. Dozens of spouses, children and friends also showed up to cheer their Trailblazers across the finish line and support those who stepped up to challenge poverty.
Although it’s always hot, and there are always hills, for all of these reasons Hospital Hill Run is still one of my favorite times of year.
Interested in becoming a Trailblazer? Visit unbound.org/trailblazers for more information.