On Sunday, I went on a 6-mile hike up Iron Mountain with these fun folks:
The hike was a clever fundraiser for an international organization supported strongly by two of my friends: Cindy and Tim Stallo.
Led by Cindy, we all climbed the 3 miles to the top of the mountain, enjoyed the beautiful vistas of San Diego and then scrambled back down the mountain. While it was a nice day in the sun, an opportunity to be active and surrounded by great people – the purpose of the hike was to raise money.
No, we didn’t pick up loose change on the way up the mountain. The hike was the first of a 7 hikes in 7 days fundraiser to benefit kids living in Malawi, Africa. Cindy asked her friends, family, colleagues and friends of friends via Facebook to hike with her on 7 different hikes throughout San Diego over 7 days. Cindy said that, “Tim and I wanted to raise money for Malawi and I wanted to do a physical challenge.” Thus the 7 Hikes in 7 Days was born.
The Stallos have long since had a heart for Malawi and its children.
They have traveled to Malawi, Africa many times over the past 7 years to support and work with two organizations: Youth Care Ministries and RiseMalawi. The goal of these non-profits is to provide children (many of whom are orphans) with basic needs five days a week: a meal, school supplies, tutoring, counseling and education. The after school and summer camps provide these things as well as support for their families, such as building a roof for a family during the rainy season or purchasing shoes for all the children in the family.
While Tim and Cindy had hoped to return to Malawi this summer and bring donations with them, they were unable to do so. But this didn’t stop them from fundraising for their favorite cause. Their goal for the 7 Hikes in 7 days fundraiser is to raise over $7,000 to underwrite the costs of 20 street kids to attend summer and after-school camps in Malawi for an entire year.
So far, they have recruited 38 hikers in the first 3 and have raised around $2,400 this month!
The hike was also symbolic. We’ve heard the saying: walk a mile in another man’s shoes. In this case, we were walking miles in little kids’ shoes. Everyday Malawi children walk approximately 5 miles from their village to school. The concept of a fundraiser hike was a great one for this cause!
Cindy got the word out on Facebook with details about each hike and how people could get involved. The beauty of this fundraiser was that the logistics were pretty easy. Through Facebook, Cindy provided prospect hiker/fundraisers all the details like meet up time and place, trailheads, length/difficulty of hike and who was going. And then all she had to do was show up at the trailhead, collect checks and cash and take the group up the mountain. Thanks to our national park service, we have beautiful and well-maintained trails in San Diego. There were no permits to be obtained, streets to be closed, equipment to be rented rentals, centerpieces to be arranged… just a dirt trail to follow.
Not only did the hikers make a personal donation, they were encouraged to raise funds from their friends. This automatically multiplied the amount of money that Cindy and her husband could raise from just their set of friends. And it worked. I brought my mom on the hike who so kindly and generously made a donation stating: “I like giving directly to people and knowing that the nonprofit won’t sell my name.” Mom donated cash; impersonal as it gets and no one sends her unwanted mail.*
Cindy already has plans to expand the hike next year including a Skype session between the hikers and the kids in Malawi right before the hike. Engaging friends outside of San Diego to hike along for 7 days in their own cities.
If you would like to support Cindy and Tim’s efforts to fundraise, please email Cindy at cindystallo at cox.net or make a tax-deductible donation at www.sixthhourministries.org.
*I did explain to my mom on the hike that most nonprofits are not in the habit of selling her name and address to other nonprofits. After all, nonprofits don’t want to lose their donors to other organizations. But there is a big scheme when it comes to direct mails and purchasing lists. She was a bit shocked and appalled that I could purchase a one-time use list of individuals who made a certain amount of money and lived in a wealthy zip code.
What a group of fundraisers… er, hikers!