A good way to live – Helping Others While Helping Yourself

I was pleased to lead the ideation and execution of Preferred Medical’s virtual 5K from June 25 through July 2. It was the first time either the company or myself had attempted such an event and it certainly was a learning experience (we will heed those lessons for the second edition in 2021). Entitling the event #5kForFood made it easy to remember and establish social media trending but also sent a strong message about its purpose – Helping you while helping others.

The first COVID-19 shelter-in-place occurred on March 17 in six Bay Area counties and this article’s title was prescient: “San Francisco’s Shelter-in-Place Order Shows U.S. What’s to Come.” These lockdowns unleashed unprecedented unemployment, which created immense food insecurity for families around the country. At the same time, a new phrase began to gain traction … “The COVID 15.” Because of those stories (and more), the focus of #5kForFood became helping others while helping yourself.

Helping Others: I wanted to find an organization that could offer the most help to the most people and embed support for their mission into #5kForFood. It didn’t take long to find Feeding America, a 40+ year old organization that performs “food rescue” (saving good food from going to waste) and provides “foods that nourish” (healthy, high in protein and nutrient rich). They provided four billion meals in 2019. The ripple effects from COVID-19 will require an estimated eight billion meals in 2020 with a likely peak of 53 million people in need, 20 million of whom will be children. Unfortunately, it took almost a decade for food insecurity issues arising from the great recession of 2008 to be resolved so this is likely a long-term need. Thanks to registration fees and direct donations, #5kForFood was able to raise $1,030 to Feeding America’s Coronavirus Response Fund!

Helping Yourself: If you have either heard or read my words over the past decade, you know how “Motion is Lotion” is my oft-repeated mantra for the proper management of pain. Thanks to Dr. Mel Pohl for planting that simple but accurate slogan in my brain so many years ago. Therefore, walking or running a 5K was the perfect way to build in a positive effect to #5kForFood participation. In reality, this was not a race but a commitment, especially to those for whom this was their first 5K. There were several stories that made the benefits self-evident. Gary had already lost 100 pounds since February 2019 through exercise and better nutrition and this became a tangible reward for that hard work. Amy ran it three times at three different paces with three sets of friends. Katy and Anna committed to a weekly walk after their successful completion together. I did at least a 5K each day in my #5kForFood shirt (by the eighth day it had to remain in the garage at my wife’s request) for a total of 107,529 steps, 48.09 miles, 227 floors, 790 active minutes and 22,383 calories (thanks, Fitbit, for keeping track). But the best thing? Every single picture that we posted on LinkedIn included smiles, probably from the endorphins that come from exercise. Lifelong memories and new healthy habits were borne during that week.

I was extremely pleased with the results of #5kForFood. But hopefully the long-lasting outcome is an attitude of helping others (attention, time, money) and a lifestyle of activity (not just between June 25 through July 2 but forever). If there were people that renewed their commitment to those ideals, then it was definitely worthwhile.

Mark Pew, The RxProfessor, Educator and Agitator