Sometimes the best ideas in life are blurted out as a quick idea in a meeting. The 4K 4Charity Fun Run series started out just like that one day when the Elemental marketing team was planning for the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC 2014) in Amsterdam and Laura Barber, a native Oregonian who’s crafted a 30-year career in technology marketing from right here in Portland, was musing aloud about Ultra HD – and running. 

Laura, Elemental’s Senior Manager of Publicity & Events, remembers that the team wanted to do something different. Like most of us, they were weary of the normal networking events that come with attending trade shows. Following the script of twelve hours on the trade show floor ending in a late night of cocktails and small talk didn’t sound appealing. So, why not change it up?

Hence, just about three months later, Elemental and a handful of sponsors held the first 4K 4Charity Fun Run for the attendees of IBC 2014. Keeping in line with Elemental’s core values, it was a great way to give back to the community, with contributions designated for not-for-profit organizations that support (any or all of) education, hunger and the environment. And have very low administrative overhead to shorten the line between those who give and those who benefit from that. 

The first 4K run saw 248 registrants and raised nearly $23,000 for Heifer International. More than that, though, it raised a huge amount of interest and enthusiastic support from the media and entertainment tech community.

So much so that Elemental went at it again with another two 4K 4Charity Fun Run events. In Las Vegas at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB 2015) trade show, multiple sponsors and nearly 500 individual registrants raised $35,000, this time for Heifer International  and a local shelter for victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking, Shade Tree. Returning to Amsterdam for the second time last month, they raised more than $37,000 for CARE and Jeugdsportfonds, a group that helps kids living in poverty access athletic gear and healthy activities. 

All the runs so far have been a resounding success. The normal stuffy trade show networking has been replaced with a fun and relaxed atmosphere among the participants. Hearing Laura describe it, you would think everyone was there for a fun weekend trip.  

With the successes of the prior runs, the Elemental team decided that the 4K 4Charity Fun Run approach could be a great way to put more muscle behind the Portland Tech Diversity Pledge, which Elemental and several other companies made earlier this year. On Wednesday Oct. 21st,  the 4k 4Charity Fun Run PDX comes to the Portland Waterfront. This time around there’s no trade show connected. Mostly, it’s a way for the tech community to support diversity and inclusion  and a great way to get some exercise.  

Portland has responded in a big way. Elemental reports on the run’s website that donations have almost climbed to $48,000 between individual registrant’s and contributions from the 20 organizations sponsoring the run. Laura points out that one of the best parts of the 4K 4Charity is that 100% of the donations runners make go towards the charity it’s supporting. Even Athletepath, the Portland start-up handling on-line registration, is even waiving its fees. 

This year, Rosemary Anderson High School will support 500 to 600 students who have struggled in traditional education. Here is a short video about RAHS.The aim of the alternative school is to help students thrive after overcoming obstacles in their education. Their graduates not only go on to receive their high school diplomas, but many go on to graduate college.  RAHS administration, faculty and students are incredibly excited about the run. So they’ve kindly offered this training video to help everyone get ready …

Diversity and inclusion were also in mind when RAHS was chosen as the recipient. The student population at RAHS serves students from every background and they hope some of them will end up in tech. Laura was quick to remind me that Elemental wants to do more than just give lip-service to the call for a more diverse workforce in technology fields. They want to be hands-on in making it happen. 

There’s still plenty of time to sign up for the 4K on Wednesday! You can register here. Participants are welcome to walk if they don’t wish to run. Kids are welcome with the whole family. The 4k starts at 3 PM. 

Elemental is really setting the bar high by showing how a company can lead by example. Volunteerism is a huge drive for the company. I encourage you to show up and support!

The original article was featured on the Technology Association of Oregon’s website. 

Oct 19, 2015