I’m learning. I’m learning about marketing and advertising. I’m learning about how to say things as a “we” and not as an “I”. I’m learning that being open on my own personal social media platforms about my ideas about religion or my kids health, or my political affiliation can actually harm the cause I’m fighting for with all my might. And so, I frequently find myself watching what I say and do because our kids health matters oh so much. I’ll be whatever the world wants me to be. I just want our kids to get what they deserve.
When I started this charity I didn’t know how to do all this. I didn’t even consider speaking as a “we.” Not because I’m a one man shop. I’m very aware that without my posse’ I would be totally useless. But because saying “We think” when I don’t even know what we actually do think, (I mean, half the time I’m not sure what I think) is, really really challenging. And how can I ever say anything as a “we” when getting 10 people to all agree to the same something as a “We” seems like straight up impossible?
It’s all just hard. The rules of non-profits and PR and what’s accepted and what’s not…Who will be mad if we do this or that…? So, let US tell you… this ‘aint for the faint of heart. But we’re learning. Even as we type this, we’ve been told not to blog as an “I” but when we put in the word “we” in space of ours “I’s”, well, we’re not so sure how it’ll ever be okay to speak on our behalf. How does one ever speak as a ‘we’? But apparently they say this is all part of the process. And so, we keep putting one foot in front of the other. limping along as we learn the ropes of a starting a non-profit aimed at conquering a monstrous sized dream.
This year, we’re hosting our second annual PRAI 5k in Richmond, VA. Last year, Virginia raised nearly $100,000 for PANS research. And for that event, we offered $5,000 for the top sponsor as part of our corporate donor package. Basically, if you wanted to be the lead sponsor for the PRAI 5k and have all of our language in print, tv, radio and web to be, “PRAI 5k presented by…” You needed to cough up some serious bucks. This year, that top spot didn’t get filled. We made the same amount in corporate donations as last year, and far more supporters, but they came in smaller incriminates. At first, WE were sick about not having a lead. Did this mean we weren’t a worthy charity? Did it mean we weren’t doing something as well as the other non-profits in our area that had several high profile corporations fighting for that presenting sponsor spot? How can we improve? How can we make more of an impact or impression on these businesses? What have WE done wrong?
3 weeks before the event, and we sat down to think about whether we could offer one of our larger sponsors the presenting spot for another $100. We thought about trying to solicit someone whose business would really benefit from marketing to our community, hospitals, dentists, supplement companies, therapists…. But something nagged at us as we brainstormed the best path forward…. Jennifer Colestock and #Team Mason. Last year, Jennifer raised like $15,000 and had so many team shirts at the 5k that people thought that PRAI’s race shirts were light blue. But no. Haha. We had grey. We just got shown up by this seriously bad mama jamma of a momma who had 25% of the attendees out in support of her son. 25% of 500 people who came out last year were there for this phenomenal little boy Mason, and his phenomenal mother Jennifer.
This year, Jennifer was sure that the support would pale in comparison. When we first rolled out the campaign she warned us, “Last year was the first. So I’m sure we won’t do anything even close this year… but we’ll try. I mean, we’ll do our best.” Fast forward just 2 very short months, #Team Mason has raised almost $20,000. When asked about her commitment, Jennifer says “It’s a bucket list kind of thing.” We told Jennifer, she literally is the embodiment of all we hope that this race is. A chance for families to be HEARD, for the community of parents who aren’t affected to be able to say “I SEE YOU AND YOUR SUFFERING”, and for parents to feel heard, validated and empowered, knowing they CAN do something about this disease we feel we can do so little about.
So when we thought of how we might recognize Jennifer’s efforts, and tell the world how THIS IS WHAT WE WANT the PRAI 5k to be for our community, it seemed like a no-brainer. PRAI 5k brought to you by #Team Mason. And the more we thought of it, the sweeter the whole idea got. Because it represents all of what we want to say but don’t know how to say it. WE are still learning in these 2 short years what are the rules around pointing out the harsh reality of a PANS diagnosis? This cause is up to us. It’s up to the parents to move this forward.
We are grateful for the support of the businesses and the medical community who have stood up to say I stand with these families. Like beyond grateful. But we MUST point out, we MUST, that the PRAI 5k is “brought to you by #Team Mason, and #Team Branson and #Team Coleman and #Team Carmichael, and #Team Duclos and #Team Miller and #Team Teague and #Team Nalls and #Team Andrews and #Team Haines and #Team Jordan #Team Faith #Team Accurso #Team Ferris, #Team Tillett and #Team Broadbent and #Team Schafer and #Team Hennessey and #Team Pomering and #Team Lemon and #Team Mease and #Team Maxwell and #Team Brashares and the list goes on and on. Because it’s not just up to me, the founder. Thank goodness or this cause would be in serious trouble. And it’s not just up to our corporate sponsors. Our doctors. Our legislatures. Or anyone else. It’s up to us. All of us; those who love these children more than anything on this entire planet.
It’s up to us. While we will are committed to bringing in those change makers to kick this disorder in the teeth, we hope you all are well aware, our kids health is not the responsibility of anyone else. There’s no one out there that will make it a priority like we will. It’s ours. We must own it. And we must fight for it. With all we have. And so, we’re so proud to announce that this year’s 2nd Annual PRAI 5k is brought to you by #Team Mason.