September 23, 2015

Wiggle Waggle Walkathon 2015: Not a Washout

The weather over the past few days has been incredible—sunny, warm, but not too hot. I keep thinking that every one of them would have been perfect days for the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon. What are the odds—the one sustained rain all year happened on walkathon weekend? Moreover, that the expected lightning storm would hit hours earlier than forecast?  
In my 15 walkathons, I have been amazed that the weather has cooperated so well. There were a couple of overly warm years, a couple of uncomfortably cool ones, and a few with intermittent drizzle but none so bad that we had to cancel and evacuate. Rain is one thing, but once the lightning started, metal tent poles made the site dangerous, and terrified some of the dogs. 
Some people have asked me why there was no rain date. I wish we could have had one. But, there are many reasons why a rain date simply isn’t realistic. The park has to be booked well in advance—as long as a year—and the logistics of pulling together 300 or so volunteers on the day, rebooking dozens of already heavily booked vendors and exhibitors, rebooking tents and equipment, etc. all make a rain date impractical, if not impossible.  
I felt badly for the everyone who worked all year to make the event a spectacular success: the volunteers and staff who braved the storm on the day, and of course the tremendously committed walkers who weren’t going to let the animals down and showed up despite the weather. Everyone got drenched but I heard no complaints. Amazing. 
So where does the evacuation leave the OHS and the animals? Well, we started with a pretty big funding gap. How big? We were looking forward to raising over $250,000. Luckily, over half the money came in online before the event even started and so the gap on Sunday was not the full amount. But at  more than $100,000, the gap was still a big hit to the OHS, our programs, and ultimately, the animals. 
Since then, OHS staff and volunteers threw together a very nice party last Friday for prize winners to collect their prizes and be recognized. We wanted to thank everyone who came out. More pledge money has been trickling in and to date, a number of donors have come forward to help close the gap.  The thermometer on our emergency page is creeping up as many in our community recognize the need to make up the funds for the animals, and now the gap is a little over $50,000.  
But then, terrific news came in over the weekend! One of our most generous donors approached us with a proposal. He wanted to help us close that gap and encourage everyone to help. He would make a gift and ask others to match it. Until this Sunday, he will match your gift dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. So, spread the word. You can help the animals. You can double your impact with this donor’s help. You can close the gap and ensure that this year’s walk isn’t a washout for the animals.
Bruce Roney
Executive Director