I’ve got to admit, just the thought of 5:30am is never a pleasant one for me. If I’m waking up at that hour, I’m not going to be happy about it, and if I’m not yet asleep, I’ve probably been up to no good. But the more I discussed the Jewelers for Children‘s “Rings of Strength” event with JFC’s Executive Director, David Rocha, the more appealing this ridiculously early hour started to seem! Last year, Las Vegas played host to this inaugural charity event, which is a run/walk/bike challenge. This year’s event takes place on Thursday, May 29th at (ahem) 5:30am, and participants have the option to run/walk 5K, to bike 15K or, for the uber-motivated, to bike 50K. As with most events of this type, those interested can set themselves up as a team or as an individual, and then ask friends and family to support their efforts with a contribution. Last year’s event raised $40,000 and had about 165 participants, this year, David hopes to double the attendance! I sat down with him to find out why he thinks this event is unique, why it already has so much traction (pun intended) and how he plans to boost his numbers:
Couture: So why do you think you got so much interest in Rings of Strength its first year out?
David Rocha: I think people liked the idea of this event right away because it’s different from anything else we do during market week. It’s not a meeting or a seminar or another dinner, it’s a chance for people to bond on a different level. And it’s a real stress reliever! You get to challenge yourself, get some fresh air, and walk, run or bike with your friends and colleagues as the sun comes up.
Couture: Speaking of the sun coming up, why do you hold this thing at such a ridiculous hour?
DR: People need time to participate in the event and then go back to their rooms, shower, change, and get to the shows! For people who run regularly, they definitely finish on the early side, but there are those that choose to do the 50k bike ride and that takes a lot more time.
Couture: So tell me how it all works logistically.
DR: We all meet at Mandalay Bay at 5:30am, the runners and walkers go on a guided route on the strip, while the bikers are bused to Red Rock Canyon. The 15k bikers bike on surface roads surrounding the canyon, while the 50k bikers do a really aggressive ride through the canyon. Bikes are for rent through a local shop both at Mandalay, and at the starting point at Red Rock Canyon. And of course, you’re welcome to bring your own bike.
Couture: So how are you hoping to boost attendance this year?
DR: I think word-of-mouth will have a lot to do with it; the people who participated last year really enjoyed themselves (despite the early hour!). Also, the shows are all really supporting us by helping us get the word out…hence the reason for this conversation!
Couture: Well I know I speak for the entire team at Couture when I say we are more than happy to help! We love Jewelers for Children!!
As most of you know, JFC supports some extremely worthwhile causes, including Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish America, CASA and Santa-America Fund. Since 1999, over $43 Million has been donated to these life-changing organizations and now’s your chance to do your part! To set yourself up as a team or an individual, click this link. You’ll be given a unique URL that you can send to your friends and family to get support….now that I mention family, mine would probably pay big money to see me get up that early! Good luck!!