Every day at The Skin Cancer Foundation, we hear from individuals who want to get involved and support our mission. Some have had skin cancer and want to share their stories. Others have lost a loved one to the disease and want to raise money in their memory. These individuals help us reach more people and, in the case of community fundraisers, they help support our education programs. We recently sat down with Heather Wood, project manager at Florida Skin Center (FSC) and event organizer of the Take Your Skin to a Better Place 5K to discuss the highs and lows of planning a large community event.
Q: Tell us a bit about your event.
A: Florida Skin Center started the Take Your Skin to a Better Place 5K to raise awareness in our community and teach our neighbors how to protect themselves. When we first began hosting the 5K a few years ago, we were amazed at how little many Southwest Floridians knew about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure. So we set out with a goal to create a community event that brought awareness to skin cancer prevention and early detection while also allowing us the opportunity to support an organization that fights the fight against skin cancer on a national scale.
Q: There are many types of fundraisers, why did you decide to organize a 5K race in your community?
A: Races naturally bring people together! They bring people of all ages and backgrounds together for a common goal.
Q: Why are you raising money for The Skin Cancer Foundation?
A: One of the biggest things that Florida Skin Center and The Skin Cancer Foundation have in common is our passion for education. We know that skin cancer can be prevented through education and that is what The Skin Cancer Foundation is all about. In addition, we are thrilled that the funds raised from the event will not just help those in SWFL but also have a profound impact on people all across the country.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during the planning process?
A: Any time you host an event like this, there are lots (and lots) of small logistical details that have to line up perfectly. Each of those tiny logistical things affects the outcome of the entire race. So, making all those tiny details work together seamlessly is always a challenge. Thankfully, we have a great team that supports one another at FSC and we work together to make it all happen!
Q: How do you get people excited about participating in the event?
A: I know that I keep using this word, but EDUCATION! We talk about statistics, like a person’s risk for melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer if not treated) DOUBLES when they have had five sunburns. Or, nearly 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer EVERY DAY. Hearing these statistics causes people to really want to join in and be a part of what you are doing. With it being the world’s most common cancer, it seems that everyone has been, or knows someone, affected by skin cancer.
We also get creative in how we talk about the race; for example, our staff started wearing race bibs with our uniforms to get the conversation started. It is a playful and fun way to engage our patients and it prompts interest and questions about the event.
Q: How do you define a successful event?
A: Well, of course it’s important to us that we meet our financial goal and raise funds for The Skin Cancer Foundation. But the success of the 5K is defined by our larger objective; the core and heart of our event is to raise awareness in our community about the importance of daily sun protection and regular self-exams. In addition, we strive to get parents involved and educated on the benefits of teaching their children sun safety habits at a young age.
Q: What advice would you give someone setting up a community fundraiser?
A: The biggest piece of advice that I can give to someone planning a fundraiser is to always remember your team’s WHY. Why are you hosting the community fundraiser? As I mentioned earlier, you can become consumed with all the little details and can easily forget the big picture, the very reason why you are working on all those little things.
Throughout the process, remember to take time to stop and remember your “why.” Remain encouraged and passionate about the purpose of your event, and all the bumps in the road that you will inevitably encounter will seem small in the grand scheme of things.
For more information on the event or to register for the race, please visit www.takeyourskintoabetterplace5k.com. To learn more about hosting a fundraiser to benefit The Skin Cancer Foundation, please check out our resources for event organizers.