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Hitting the pavement with the Beat the Bug Virtual 5k

With coronavirus turning everyone’s life upside-down, people have been trying to stick to their routines to find some sense of stability. Jobs have gone remote where possible, while employees still maintain their day-to-day workflow. Musicians have been livestreaming concerts so that they can still have an audience. And runners who saw their races canceled have been keeping track of their teammates’ progress online while they run individually. Runner Kari Lansing not only kept her running club together by organizing a virtual 5K, she decided to really stick it to coronavirus’ impact by turning the 5K into a fundraiser to “Beat the Bug”.

Beat the Bug 5k Women's shirt

The official t-shirt for the Beat the Bug 5k Virtual Race!

Hailing from Wilmington, New York, Kari is a running expert. She has 24 years of experience practicing as a National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Certified Athletic Trainer and a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and has coached Olympic medal-winning athletes. She created “Bring Your Sneakers,” a club for women to train in running races from 5Ks to half-marathons. On the Facebook page “Bring Your Sneakers,” she shares advice and tips to runners of all backgrounds and skill levels and fosters positive engagement with the club members.

With the spread of coronavirus, many of her team members were experiencing the firsthand effects of necessary social distancing. “The runners in my ‘Bring Your Sneakers’ Facebook Group were feeling down because all of the races that they had trained for were being canceled due to the coronavirus. I put together this virtual 5K just a week ago for the group for free,” says Kari.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Kari decided to create a custom t-shirt to help raise funds and help out others impacted by the coronavirus. Inspired by her own mother, Kari decided to focus on the senior population who are one of the most at-risk groups from the virus. “[My mother] is 81 and loves to be social, volunteer and goes to church every week.  All of a sudden, all of the things she loves to do were being canceled and closed.” As the fundraiser states, “Our older population relies on social interaction to keep their spirits up, give them something to look forward to, and now for their own protection from this COVID-19 virus, they need to be even more socially isolated than ever. “

With all this in mind, Kari chose to support Meals on Wheels, an organization that supports more than 5,000 community-based programs that deal primarily with senior isolation and hunger. With nearly 9.5 million seniors in America struggling with food insecurity, this program offers them the delivery of nutritious meals and social interaction. With a mission to “empower local community programs to improve the health and quality of life of the seniors they serve so that no one is left hungry or isolated,” the Meals on Wheels program has become all the more necessary during these difficult times.

Now that the race was set up with a donor selected, all Kari needed was a t-shirt to connect the runners and draw attention to the fundraiser. Since more people than ever are using social media currently, having custom shirts for the fundraiser could help the runners stay united with photos of themselves wearing the shirts in addition to sparking interest in the fundraiser. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, Kari tried out Custom Ink Fundraising. “My experience was excellent. We needed to turn this shirt around within hours of announcing the run, and that made it SO easy to do!” she says.

The Beat the Bug 5k Unisex Shirt

Now everyone can join in on the Beat the Bug 5k with the unisex shirt

Using Custom Ink’s Design Lab to quickly create the shirt’s art, Kari had her Beat the Bug Virtual 5K Fundraiser set up in no time. Because “Bring Your Sneakers” is a women’s running club, the campaign initially offered only women’s shirts. However, after there was enough feedback from club members who wanted shirts for other family members and friends, she was able to add unisex shirts as well. Even adding in the additional shirt style was a quick and easy experience. Now everyone could join in to Beat the Bug! Even people who weren’t planning on running were able to simply donate without the need for a shirt.

By the end of the fundraiser, the Beat the Bug Virtual 5K raised more than $3,500 for Meals on Wheels. While the event itself hasn’t happened yet, the outpouring of support from people all across the country has really driven home that community is more than just your neighborhood. Even apart, we’re all in this together. Start your own fundraiser or create your own coronavirus t-shirts today!

Kendra is the Copywriting Support at Custom Ink. She has a background in art but she loves writing, so she finds a compromise between the two by creating comics in her free time.

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