By Amber Howland
“I have an idea.”
Those were my famous last words before embarking on what can only be described as the longest run of my life. I am running a 1000K. That is 621 miles stretched over 108 days, averaging six to seven miles a day, and I am doing it for charity. My big idea was to spread those miles out and showcase our small business community all while raising money for the Food Bank of CNY. This seemed like an easy feat that would occupy a couple hours a day for the summer. What it has turned into would be something that would shape me and my love for Syracuse for a lifetime.
In a recent conversation with Matt from Café Kubal, I was asked, “Why are you doing this?” During every run since then this question crossed my mind. I would task myself during the run to come up with an eloquent answer that would leave everyone happy and content. Yes, I am doing this for the Food Bank of CNY. Yes, I am doing this to showcase small businesses in CNY. If I am being honest, though, my reason for doing this started with the dreaded word, “quarantine.”
I quarantined alone. I don’t tell you this for pity but rather to further explain my need for purpose. For eight weeks, I longed for purpose. I am fortunate enough that my job allows me to work from home so it is really business as usual for me, with the exception of being told that I can’t leave my house. For eight weeks I struggled. I tried to maintain normalcy. I went through all the stages of quarantine – the baking stage, the YouTube workout stage, the deep cleaning stage, the do absolutely nothing and mope stage. For eight weeks I was in a mindset that this awful thing was happening to me. This is where the OneNY 1000K Virtual Challenge stepped in. I had seen posts on social media about this race for a few days. With all of the local running races cancelling and moving to a more virtual look and feel, I made a change and got involved.
Fast forward to my sister’s dining room table telling her the mileage and logistics of this virtual challenge and I say, “I have an idea. What if I partner with small businesses and showcase them daily, since I will be out on the road every day?” A quick brainstorming session and a list of our favorite bars and restaurants was created. That evening, I called a friend that I knew would NOT talk me out of this and I said, “I have an idea and I need to talk through this.” This is where the virtual fundraiser for the food bank was born. Ideas were flowing, big and small. My first call the next morning was the Food Bank of CNY. I had a big idea and two days to execute. You read that correctly. The race began in two days.
Thank you to Lynn Hy, the chief development officer, at the Food Bank of CNY for fast tracking a dedicated donation landing page and providing me with my first piece of swag – a food bank t-shirt. Calls, texts, a website, more calls, and texts took a dining room table idea to an executed movement.
As you read this, we are about halfway to the finish line. More than 50 local businesses have been featured on social media and shared among various networks of people. Thousands of dollars have been raised as part of the 1000K for CNY campaign. This means thousands of meals have been created for our community through the work of the Food Bank of CNY.
To see the campaign in action and follow along on the journey to 1000K, follow me on Instagram at @ambermhowland and Amber Howland on Facebook. To donate directly to the Food Bank of CNY and purchase your own 1000K for CNY t-shirt, visit amberhowland.com!
Thank you to every single one of you who listened to my “crazy idea” and supported me. Thank you to every single small business owner I pitched this idea to that immediately jumped on board. Thank you to every one of you who liked or shared my posts. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated thus far. You are doing this. I am running the miles, but you are pushing the needle. And for that, I am forever grateful. Let’s go!
Amber Howland is a construction tech consultant, living on the west side of Syracuse. She shares a home with her two yorkies, Max and Penny. When she is not running, she is spending time with family and friends taking in all Syracuse has to offer! Go Orange!