For Immediate Release:
May 22, 2012
(Alexandria, VA) – Ten years after its inception and seven years after it was officially adopted by the National Hospice Foundation, the Run to Remember athletic fundraising program has raised more than three quarters of a million dollars, much of which has gone back into local communities. Runners can designate a local hospice to receive 50% of funds raised. In 2012, NHF distributed a total of $55,000 to local hospices around the country.
In 2002, the idea for Run to Remember was sparked by the passion of an Ohio man named Stuart Lazarus. He conceived of a program that would combine his love for running with his commitment to hospice. He ran his first marathon in 2003, dedicating his effort to the memory of his mother, who had passed away in 1982 as one of the first hospice patients in their hometown of Columbus.
Run to Remember founder Stuart Lazarus runs the 2003 Columbus Marathon wearing the prototype shirt
In 2004 he began recruiting other runners. Lazarus notes, “I knew this idea had incredible potential. In the early days, it was a word-of-mouth program, with a rudimentary website, and no way to make online donations. People still responded, because the opportunity to run in memory of someone who had passed away was incredibly meaningful.”
Starting with Lazarus’ first race, when he wore a Run to Remember shirt with his mother’s name on the back, personalized running shirts have been a feature of the program. Each runner receives a special Run to Remember shirt silk-screened with the name of their loved one(s) on the back. Participants routinely praise this feature.
Lazarus, who had served as the chair of NHF’s board from 1996 to 1999, brought the idea to the NHF board in 2005. Seeing Run to Remember’s fundraising and public awareness potential, the board approved it as an official fundraising program. Thus began a period of program expansion and refinement. Lazarus worked with NHF staff members closely on the program’s development. Significant milestones of the program are described at www.runtoremember.org/history. Today, Run to Remember has an online giving feature through Active.com that makes it easy for participants to personalize their own fundraising web pages, telling the stories of their loved ones and why they are running.
On December 31, 2012, Lazarus will officially transfer legal rights to the program entirely to NHF and will retire from his role as national director. NHF Executive Director John Mastrojohn says, “The entire hospice field is indebted to Stuart Lazarus for creating this program. He took the spark of an idea and turned it into a robust program that helps people memorialize their loved ones and give back to hospice. We hear over and over that participants feel like Run to Remember gives them a unique opportunity to grieve their loss. We thank him and all the Run to Remember runners since the program’s inception. We invite people to leave a comment about the program at www.runtoremember.org/history.”
To participate in Run to Remember, runners sign up for any race they wish (of any length) and then register at www.runtoremember.org. The program operates year-round.
Susan Messina, Director of Special Projects