(Posted June 23, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Ashley Winebrenner, vice president and co-founder of Rockin’ on the Run, wasn’t sure what to expect this time around.
For the second straight year, the London-based non-profit had to go virtual with their efforts to raise money for pediatric brain tumor research and the Fun Floor at Children’s Hospital. Winebrenner was pleasantly surprised by the results.
“Our goal was to raise $20,000, and we raised $26,000. To be $6,000 over what would be a hard goal to reach on its own, I’d say is unbelievable but our community is so supportive. I’m not surprised they stepped up and blew the goal out of the water,” she said.
This marked the 12th year for Rockin’ on the Run which normally involves an in-person run/walk, huge silent auction, and children’s games. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 events were held virtually.
“Our traditional event feels like the community coming together. There’s an energy there you can’t recreate virtually,” Winebrenner said. “But what was cool about the virtual format is that we could reach out to the entire world.”
The 2021 auction was held online May 1-15. The virtual run/walk window was May 9-16. Leading up to and through these dates, Rockin’ on the Run volunteers made not only lots of local connections but also garnered support from across the country and around the world.
Going after any and all sponsor and donor possibilities, Winebrenner reached out to an activewear company in Australia she found through Instagram. While the company said they could not donate this year, the customer service rep Winebrenner talked to signed up personally because she knows a child with a brain tumor.
“It’s amazing how many people have been directly impacted by knowing someone with a pediatric brain tumor,” Winebrenner said.
On another cold call to a business in Dayton, she found out the owner’s nephew had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Separately, she talked to a friend in Grove City who relayed to her that her new neighbor’s son had just been diagnosed. It turned out to be the Dayton business owner’s nephew.
Support from strangers and longtime supporters combined to make this year’s event a success. Winebrenner said she was humbled when past donors reached out to her, saying they wanted to give.
“Asking for monetary donations is hard in any year but very, very hard during a pandemic. Everyone was affected by the pandemic,” she said. “To have people reach out to us and say, ‘We don’t have a lot to donate this year, but we still want to,’ is heartwarming. They still wanted to give and make a difference.”
The $26,000 will be split evenly between the research department and the Fun Floor fund at Children’s Hospital in Columbus. To date, Rockin’ on the Run has donated more than $233,000 to the hospital.
Next year, organizers hope to be back to an in-person format.
“Our plan is to be bigger and better, get back to that community feeling, celebrate these kids, and honor the ones that aren’t with us anymore,” Winebrenner said.
Visit rockinontherun.org for more information about the fundraiser and the organization.