When Matt passed away, his co-workers from his new job had gotten together and organized a 5K in his honor called the Run for Row. It is held every year on the third Sunday in August at Como Lake Park in Lancaster, NY. Their purpose for the event is to raise money for our children's education, and they have faithfully organized the event every year since Matt's death.
This past year, since we're now living back in the area, I was invited to the last meeting before event in August. As I was listening to the planning process, one of them mentioned that they had gone to a local grocery store asking for a donation of hot dog rolls for the event, but they were turned down because they will only donate to a cause that benefits more than just one family. I didn't hear much of the rest of the conversation because that immediately got my wheels turning... I thought, "it would be way better if this event benefited more than just my kids" among a hundred other thoughts all at the same time. Not only would it be wonderful to help other kids pay for college, but I would also be way more inclined to help with the event if I knew it was helping others. I haven't been involved in this process for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that it would just simply seem weird to help with a cause that benefits my own children - kind of like throwing a baby shower for your own baby. To me, it just seemed too self-serving to feel right.
I interjected an idea during the meeting... What if we were to change the objective of the event to raise funds for other kids who've lost a parent, and not just mine?
Then he told me that because the Buffalo plant (the plant Matt used to work at) is up for sale, that they decided to separate the Run for Row from the company they work for and form a non-profit corporation so that it is a separate entity. Because of that, they actually had to write the mission statement so that it reads that the funds raised will assist more than just my kids anyway, and they were going to ask me if I was OK with that. I'm more than OK with that - it thrills me to think we could help other kids, too! I'm now one of the directors of the corporation and am actively involved.
Education was so important to Matt. He got his associates degree right out of high school, and then at the time we met, he was just going back to college to get his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. When he graduated with that degree nine years later (just before I gave birth to Sydney), he had just begun his studies for his Master's Degree. He is the only one in his family to get a college degree.
One of the reasons it meant so much to him to get a college education is because it was so important to him that his children have a college education, too, and he felt he would be a hypocrite if he told them to go to college if he didn't have a degree himself.
As such, I am so pleased to announce that the Run for Row will now be raising money for scholarships for students in the Western New York area who have lost a parent. We are still in the beginning stages, but it's a very exciting venture and I will post about details once we get them figured out. =)