For businesses, Avera Race offers opportunity for philanthropy, team-building

March 5, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

Generous Sioux Falls businesses often face big challenges when it comes to charitable giving. Many deserving projects are out there – and they all need support.

Ted Miller, vice president of operations for Taco John’s and Five Guys, saw this challenge as an opportunity. After years of trying to “be all things to everyone,” he had an epiphany.

“We decided as a team to drill down and focus on one worthy cause, one with enough scope that it touched many lives but that also appealed to our employees,” Miller said. “We met with the Avera McKennan Foundation and tried the Avera Race Against Cancer three years ago. After that first one, we realized it was a perfect fit.”

The Avera Race 2020 is May 9, and Miller, along with several dozen workers, managers and leaders will again hit the road and run, walk or volunteer.

“It’s great because anyone can do it, and we have some folks that chip in with our fundraising, others who come out for the walk and the spirit of the event, and then a few of us who dial in and train for the 5K and 10K runs,” he said.

“Cancer has touched our business. We had a bad run for a while, with three long-term employees who lost their battle. We come out to honor them and to honor everyone facing it.”

Rising tide of ‘joiners’

In the two years Taco John’s and Five Guys have been involved with the Avera Race, they have raised and donated thousands of dollars for the event. They’ve set a high goal for this year’s race. And they’re not alone – more businesses are seeing the fun and active spirit of the event, along with its significant underpinnings and formal mission, as an opportunity.

More than 6,000 participants took part in the 2019 Race. Organizers expect close to 100 teams to sign up for this year’s event.

“Participation continues to grow and engage more people, along with more businesses,” said Elijah Bonde, annual giving event coordinator with the Avera McKennan Foundation. “Many business owners see the Race as a great way to build teamwork with employees, and the active nature of the event is attractive too. The atmosphere of the event really brings people out.”

Racers from across the region

While a majority of participants hail from Sioux Falls, many families, cancer survivors and their friends have made the Mother’s Day weekend event a tradition, traveling to be with this compassionate community. The close bonds that result make the Race something special.

“It truly is a celebration of survivors, and many who take part come from across the region and across the country,” said Reid Jensen, director of the Avera McKennan Foundation.

“Businesses find creative ways to take part. They offer ‘jeans days’ or other promotions, so everyone who wants to can contribute even if they cannot come out on Race day.”

Miller said one of his stores hosted a “duct tape” event, where employees could buy pieces of tape. The money went to the Race, and the tape was used to eventually tape one of the store’s managers to the wall – but only temporarily.

“Yes, they taped her up off the ground on the wall, and it was a big hit with everyone in the store,” Miller said.

“We realize cancer affects us all, and our teams truly see how an event like this allows them to honor people we’ve lost, to get active and to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We are excited and looking forward to May 9.”

Visit the Avera Race Against Cancer website to learn about how you or your business can get involved.

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For businesses, Avera Race offers opportunity for philanthropy, team-building

After years of trying to answer the many calls for corporate giving, this business focused on one thing and found the perfect fit.

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