Rachel Arntson: Running, Fundraising, Inspiring
TCM is pleased to introduce you to Rachel Arntson, a successful fundraiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. In the interview below, Rachel shares the inspiring story of why she runs and why she runs for Team In Training!
How did you get your start as a runner?
I ran a bit back in my high school and college days, but never really enjoyed it. I really only started three years ago with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Association's Team in Training. I was 55 years old and out of shape. When I started, I had a lot of pain in my legs and knees. That lasted about four months, and then one day, the pain subsided. I am so glad I didn't quit. Being on the team is what kept me going. If I had been running on my own, there is no way I would have continued.
What are your favorites distances to race?
The three types of races I do are 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. I really enjoy all three equally, because they all bring a unique challenge to me. I have also done a duathlon which I would have to say is my favorite kind of race. I love biking and running combined.
How did you get started raising money for charity through running?
I have always had a hard time asking people for money for a cause. But because I chose to raise money while working extremely hard on something way out of my comfort zone, it was a bit easier to ask. Plus I had a deep commitment to the cause, so that makes it much easier to ask others to contribute.
Why do you choose to run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Association's Team in Training?
I chose LLS for one reason. Our daughter Kelsey is a 17 year survivor from leukemia. When you experience something like cancer with your child, the gratitude is beyond words when they survive. I had been thinking about joining TNT for years, but never got the nerve to join. Then a friend invited me to a kick-off party with the team, and I joined that night. I have been hooked ever since.
I'm told you've raised more than $13,000 through TNT. What's kept you so committed to the cause?
We always have Mission Moments at our trainings, and they keep me going. What always strikes me is how dedicated the people are who have lost a loved one to blood cancer. I am always humbled when I hear their stories. Because I am one of the truly lucky ones in this blood cancer family, there is no way I can stop fundraising and racing with TNT. It is my forever commitment. Every birthday, every major moment in our daughter's life is a moment many others do not get to share with their loved one. I feel that I owe it them to keep going.
Is it difficult raising money for charity? What's the secret to your success?
Raising money is difficult at times, especially when you are doing season after season. I just signed up for my 6th season in 3 years, so it can be tough. I have raised $13,681.13 total as of today, but I have a long way to go with my new season. One secret for me has been sending out letters to everyone I know, including an addressed return envelope in the letter. People are unbelievably generous, and I know they have seen the incredible benefit that I have in having a healthy daughter. I think that probably gives them even greater reason to donate.
The biggest secret to my success, though, is having Mosaic Parties. Oh my goodness! Do we have fun!!! About three to four times per year, I have parties that last one to two full days where I teach people how to mosaic. Mosaics are an incredible art form, and even if you are rookie, your project will turn out great! It is fool proof. At my parties, I supply everything, and I don't charge a dime. I just ask that people give as much as they feel comfortable to LLS. The parties cost me a lot of money, but I get such joy in teaching others how to create something beautiful all while socializing and building friendships. Because I donate everything, people see that I am generous with my time and supplies, so, in return, people give generously.
What advice would you offer to someone who has considered charity running but hasn’t taken the plunge yet?
You never know until you try. If you want to try running, I can't think of a better way to start than with a group like LLS. The support from the coaches is unreal. Even if you had to pay the money yourself, I think it is worth it. My advice is to take the plunge and do it. Then start being creative in how to raise funds. I believe that anyone can do it.
Photo: Rachel Arntson (left) with her daughter Kelsey.
Click here for more information on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. Learn more about all of TCM's Charity Partners here. Interested in attending one of Rachel's mosaic parties or giving to her cause? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.