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July 04, 2016

Our Heroes: The Exeter Hike

The theme of the Hero run/walk was introduced to the HD community this year by the staff in Chapter Development. This was promoted as a way to show our appreciation to those affected by HD and their strength while also being a fun family event through which we could reach people from the general community and grow the event. People are encouraged to dress up as heroes (whatever or whomever that may be to them) to come to the event. The first Hero themed run took place on June 4 and it was a HUGE success!
The Exeter Hike has been Exeter’s annual run/walk for 10 years and has been a staple in the HD community. Generously supported and organized by the Knights of Columbus, the Exeter Hike has historically brought in an average of $12,000 a year for the HD community. This year, due to promotion on social media and the new Hero theme, the Hike brought in a whopping $31,000!
Lindsay Groot, a key event volunteer, was a huge part of growing the Hike this year, getting sponsorships and setting up activities like the scavenger hunt, face painting, the bouncy castle, prize table, and HD swag sales while the BBQ and registration were still run by Knights of Columbus. These kids’ activities were added to create an opportunity to grow the event by bringing in families, both inside and outside those affected by HD. “I feel like people are getting ‘support fatigue’,” Lindsay shared, “I really pushed it being a family fun day”. Local heroes such as police and EMS, specifically fire and ambulance also came out to the event. Police even allowed kids and others to climb into and check out the vehicles
Lindsay created a real system for attracting sponsors by mapping the streets of Exeter and dividing into sections for volunteers to easily tackle while on a lunch break, after work, or on the weekends. Lindsay and her volunteers went through the Heroes sponsorship package that was put together by Lindsay and the staff in Chapter Development, and discussed how to “sell” it. They used their connections with businesses and tried to give ideas and options for the kinds of things the specific business could give if they did not wish to give cash. This led to over 35 prize sponsors, as well as around $3,500 in cash sponsorships.
Every time a sponsorship was received, the company logo would go up on the event Facebook page, and in return, the companies posted the event poster on their page. This was a great way to spread the word! “Facebook was key,” Lindsay shared, “lots of friends and family shared it, which brought out people from about 2 hours away!” Newspaper articles as well as radio broadcasts were also used to get the word out.
When speaking about the Hike and her wishes for it to grow, Lindsay commented, “My dream of the hike is that it will continue to be a family fun day where your endorphins are elevated from the moment you arrive until the time you get home! That there will be so many fun memories created people can't help but come back annually. I hope the following years will bring out more and more people who either want to support the HD cause or are looking for a fun day. Either way, it will lead to support, donations and awareness!”
Through the efforts of Lindsay and her fellow volunteers in putting together the success of the Huntington Heroes Hike in Exeter, they became heroes in the HD community. Thank you to all who were involved.

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