Pan Mass Challenge, asking for money

I entered new territory yesterday. Sent out my first fund-raising email ever. To a whole list of friends and colleagues, though I called them all friends in the salutation. That was the first big decision when writing the email. What do I call all these people? Yes, many are friends, people I spend time with outside of work, hang out with, eat meals with. But many of them are folks I only interact with Monday thru Friday. Are they friends? I think so, though I think other people would consider them colleagues and make a distinction between the two. I don’t know, so I just decided to say “Dear Friends.” Some may find that too impersonal.

I labored over the writing of the email. As I said, it was my first time asking people for money. And I was going to be asking them to give me money for riding a bicycle. I had to convince them that somehow the two went together. So, I wrote about how in 1980 I rode across the United States with people who were raising money for the Heart Association and beyond riding the bike, I wouldn’t have anything to do with fundraising. Seemed somehow silly to me to ask someone to give you money for something you were going to do anyway.

I had my wife look it over. I asked a co-worker (friend) to look it over. I got some good feedback, mostly along the line of make it shorter. (Always good advice when it comes to writing.)

(And then one of my friends responds, saying the tone of the email didn’t sound like me. Which pissed me off, of course. But he’s right. Asking for money to fight cancer is a serious undertaking. I see this guy mostly at the gym where all of us guys try to be funny. I’m not a serious guy at the gym, and so he has never seen a serious me. A number of people have never seen the serious me. It’s a problem. An identity issue. You decide at some point that you want to be known as funny. Face it, women like funny guys. And you make a decision like that about your life when you’re still in the hunt on a daily basis.)

So I finally sent the email and then waited to see what would happen. A few emails came back right away with the Out of Office reply. A couple responded saying ‘of course they would contribute.’ One friend wrote, “I’ve got your back, Erik.” I liked that. And then two people responded to the email saying they had already contributed. Cha-ching! I thought. When I came back from the gym later, I checked my emails and a guy wrote saying he had tried numerous times, but couldn’t get it to work. “Shit,” I thought, I should have tried donating money to myself. But I hadn’t. I was worried. I checked in the system. I couldn’t find evidence of any money having been registered in my account, even though I was pretty sure some of my friends had already donated. I tried calling the guy who had failed to donate online. How could I help? No answer. Oh well.

Next morning, I continued the online discussion about his attempts. He has a Mac. He’s using—aaahhhh!!—netscape browser. Well, that’s a problem, I’m sure. I think the PMC site is a navigation disaster, but was pretty sure the systems for taking in money were up to date, but somehow a netscape browser doesn’t fit into that scenario.

Then I checked my profile and saw that $250 had been collected. That was exciting. So, now I’m checking my profile every hour like a first-time author checking her number at Amazon. Last I saw it was at $1,050. That’s so cool. My goal is $7500. The minimum amount I must raise is $3300. (This fund raiser has become so popular that you have to in effect, guarantee this minimum amount. If you don’t raise that much from others, you pay the balance out of your own pocket.)

Here I am, a fund raiser. I’m having a lot of fun so far. Raising money for cancer research. Striking up conversations with some folks I haven’t been in touch with for a while. It’s gonna be a good summer. Two months until I ride to Provincetown with about 4,000 other bicyclists.

Took a 17-mile jaunt at lunchtime. Out Commonwealth Ave. (into a wind, and headwind there usually means rain on the way) and back on Beacon Street. A good loop. A little too much traffic. Hot. Humid. (Could be, most likely will be, worse in August, so you gotta train in the heat.)

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