Nearly one year ago I was driving down the road on a beautiful Texas evening. My thoughts were focused on the coming new year and a challenge that I had issued my sister, Ashley, a few days earlier. In an attempt to stay connected to her, and knowing how much she loved to run, I had the idea that we should have a little contest and see who would be the first one to run 1,000 miles in 2013. She eagerly accepted the challenge and our competitive juices started turning as we talked about the coming year.
On this particular evening I was driving down the road and the big Texas sky stretched out before me. Through my window I saw the moon. The moon. That bright ball in the night sky speckled with its dark craters. I believe inspiration entered my mind's door at that moment and questions quickly start forming. "How far away is the moon?" "How many people would it take, if we all ran 1,000 miles each, to get to the moon in one year?" "Could we expand our challenge to others and get enough people to run to the moon?" I hurried home to jump onto Google and start doing the research.
I love numbers. It seems like I'm always adding, subtracting or multiplying something in my mind, so this moon miles research was right up my alley. I calculated, wrote numbers all over my notebook and concluded that the moon is 238,000 miles away from the earth. This meant that we would need 238 people to each run 1,000 miles in one year, to get us up to the moon.
238 people. I called my sister. "Do you think we could recruit 238 people to run to the moon with us?" We weren't sure if we could, but we decided to give it a try. We created a blog and started reaching out to friends and family members through Facebook and email. In less than three weeks we had more than 238 people and there were still many more joining us each day. As our launch date approached (January 1, 2013) we had more than 1,000 people that had taken our challenge and were ready to travel to the moon with us. Many of these people were strangers to us. They had heard about Moon Joggers as our invitation spread all over Facebook. We had people from more than 40 countries around the world gearing up to run with us. We couldn't believe it!
On January 1 we took off on our journey through space. In what we thought would take one year, took us
only five months. On May 23, 2013 we were dancing on the moon! We enjoyed a quick run around the moon and then began our journey back to earth. We've made it home from the moon and are now gearing up for our next big challenge:Voyage to Venus. Venus is 25 million miles away, which means we have thousands of people we need to recruit to help us get there.
What have I learned from this journey to the moon? First of all, I've learned that if there is a will, there is a way. We wanted to go to the moon (who wouldn't want to go to the moon?) and we figured out a way to get there. I've run more miles this year than any other year in my life, all because I was working towards this team goal of running to the moon.
Second, I learned that there are so many incredible people out there in the world disguised as ordinary, regular people. I've come to know many of my Moon Joggers and some have become dear friends. We've shared our successes, our failures, our photos of our favorite running trails and our love of running, walking, jogging and any other form of physical exercise. We've rallied around fellow Moon Joggers that were dealing with set backs or MJ's that were preparing for races that they'd never run before. We've also celebrated milestones as our friends have surpassed certain milestones: 500 miles, 1,000 miles, 2,000 miles and even our fearless leader, Perry Newburn, who has logged more than 6,000 miles this year! We've all been inspired by one another.
Why am I writing this? Well, I have a favor to ask of you. Yes, I'm talking to you, the person reading this blog. As you can see, I love my Moon Joggers. This past year they have taken over my life and more often than not, you'll find me out running, managing our Moon Joggers website or connecting with fellow Moon Joggers through our MJ Facebook group. There is so much to do in managing a group of more than 1,300 people.
As I mentioned, next year our plan is to go to Venus, which is the closest planet to earth. The journey is 25 million miles, which is 24.5 million miles more than we've run this year. What does this mean? It means we need 25,000 people to join our journey. It means we have to reach out across the world, to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people to find the 25,000 that are ready to take the challenge and run with us.
To reach that many people, and to manage that many people, takes an extreme amount of time and focus. Currently I work full-time, I'm a full-time grad student and like most of you out there, I have a very busy life. As I've spent this past year managing Moon Joggers in my spare time I've come to the determination to make Moon Joggers my career. It has the ingredients of what makes the perfect career I've ALWAYS dreamed of and have never been able to find, until now. Those ingredients are: connecting with people and connecting people with other people, achieving goals, planning and executing events that involve a worthy cause and being able to pursue my passion of running and encouraging others to do the same.
How can I make this a career? That's a great question. It's a question I started asking myself several months ago when I realized that Moon Joggers had turned into something so much bigger than I ever would have imagined. The answer is actually quite simple. Our Voyage to Venus is a running event that involves runners signing up and participating. Our participants have the option to register and pay a fee. In return they will receive an official t-shirt, finisher's medal, window decal and other goodies. It will also allow them to participate on our website and in our MJ community. The fee also gives them discounts on virtual events we'll be hosting throughout the year.
We do not plan to charge outrageous fees like some events do (the average price to do a half marathon these days is $90!). Our registration fee is set at $50, but we've offered many discount codes and many people are paying less than that. We want it affordable so that everyone can participate (we even offer a free option that allows people to be able to log their miles without receiving any of the gear). Through Voyage to Venus we also plan to use a portion of all registration fees to raise at least $50,000 for The Little Heroes Foundation, which is a non-profit that is devoted to improving the well being of children around the world.
With a goal of 25,000 participants, I know I'll be able to carve out an income in which I can support myself and be able to travel around to meet up with fellow Moon Joggers throughout the world. I've already met up with MJ's in New Orleans and Texas. Before meeting up we joked around the we were all really good friends that had never met before. This weekend I am heading to Florida for our biggest MJ meet up yet: about 20 to 25 Moon Joggers are coming together to run the Space Coast half marathon, which is at the location where the first rocket took off to go to the moon. Very fitting for us!
Okay, I've gotten carried away, but now I'm coming back. Here's the favor I have to ask. This past year has been incredible and this next year has the potential to be a grand adventure for everyone involved. But the only way for us to reach Venus is to have a crew big enough to run those 25 million miles. We are out recruiting and doing all we can to invite people to join us. We've started a small kick start fund to help us raise money to really get Moon Joggers started as a business, and all of the money we raise will go into advertising, to enable to us reach our target audience and find those that are ready for a challenge as big as running to Venus.
I am asking you to donate to our Moon Jogger kick starter fund. A little bit of help will go a very long way. We've already tested the waters with Facebook ads and other advertising options and the response has been really good. We just need the funds to run those ads up until January 1, in time for our take off to Venus! Our goal is to raise $10,000. This will allow us to sign up 25,000 people and will help me to make Moon Joggers my full-time job. It will take even more work to manage 25,000 people, but it's a job that I WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING! Please help make this happen. A donation as small as $10 would mean the world to me.
Thanks for taking the time to read about this new passion of mine and click here to visit our Moon Joggers Kick Starter fund page and make a donation.
Our MJ Kick Starter fundraiser has a deadline. It ends December 6, so we have less than two weeks. Please donate now.
Thank you to the moon and back!
Moon Jogger Maniac