Back in April, my Director sent me an email along with a link to #Readathon2016. In her email, she suggested that we take part in this national fundraiser for Every Child Ready to Read. I wish that I could say that I was super-enthusiastic for this event at the get-go, but honestly, I saw it as one more thing to add to the pre-summer reading stress pile. I chatted with my Director about it for awhile, and what can I say? Her enthusiasm was catching.
So, I started thinking about what made races fun for me. Before fibromyalgia came into my life, I had been a runner who was hoping to transition from running 10K’s to half marathons. I wasn’t a huge fan of running, but I always loved the races. And the mementos I always enjoyed having were my race bibs and participation medals. I mean, I even framed my first racing bib.
Yes, that’s me pre-fibro.
And that became my goal: get medals and make race bibs. Make this event feel like a reading race (without the competition factor).
We purchased 100 reading medals and neck ribbons. They were the cheapest good-quality medals we could find. Yes, they’re expensive, but we believe in upping the quality of what we give out to our community so that it’s likely to be kept as a memento and not thrown out after a day or two. Plus, in case #Readathon2016 was a flop, this year’s CSLP theme is about sports/games and we knew that we could find ways of distributing any leftover medals.
The smartest thing we did was put a medal around the event flyer holder. Kids and parents would see the awesome medal and ask how they could get one. It was one of the best advertising tools we’d ever had (so far).
I then designed our own race bibs. I started in the 100’s just so the numbers would fill the bib and look good. Here’s how they looked:
Finally, the only other prep work we did was created a “race form” where we took down names, bib numbers, start times, and then end times.
The day of the event came, and the first nine people through our doors the moment we opened, were there for the Readathon!
We stared off by pinning on the bibs, ran out of safety pins, then used string to make them like necklaces
And my most hopeful wish for the event came true: there were families all over our library – both inside and outside – reading together. I was crying tears of joy on the inside.
My favorite picture from the event.
And then Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, started singing Chariots of Fire as she hung the medals around completers’ necks. And I joined in after I realized what she was doing (because I’m a total ham): And everyone who signed up completed the “race!” Our Children’s Library is currently only opened for 2 hours on Saturdays, and we wanted to make the reading time achievable for any age – so we set a goal of reading for 30 minutes on-site. Most read for longer than that, and we were thrilled with how seriously the kids took it. One boy had his mom get out her phone and use its timer app.
The thing that never occurred to me, and that made my heart grow three sizes that day, is that there were so many happy conversations as people were leaving. Two little girls were thrilled to have won their VERY FIRST MEDAL EVER. A little girl told her babysitter that she couldn’t wait to show off her medal to her both parents and grandparents. It was those overheard conversations and the pride on kids’ faces when they were presented with their medals that made this such an amazing event.
Yeah, I suspect that we didn’t do a great deal of money-raising for Every Child Ready to Read, but we created a great deal of awareness for the program. Plus we made some really great memories for both participants and our library team. And that’s what I consider a huge win for us!