As Pine Castle resident Sean Harcrow crossed the finish line of The Human Race’s One Mile Fun Run, Team Pine Castle’s deafening cheers and proud screams blocked out all other noise. For the first time in his four years of running The Human Race, Sean took off from the starting line, determined to actually run part of the One Mile Fun Run. His resilience and hard work paid off, as he crossed the finish line in a whopping 22 minutes, surpassing his personal goals.
An avid biker, camper, and Miracle League baseball player, Sean is happiest spending his time outdoors, doing physical activities with his family and fellow Pine Castle residents. All of his physical endeavors, combined with his sociability and love of helping others, have been Sean’s best preparation to succeed in The Human Race.
Like the other members of Team Pine Castle and residents of the group home, Sean is special. He has mild cerebral palsy and grew up with back-knee syndrome. As a young boy, Sean had to attend multiple physical therapy sessions every week in order to slowly gain regular use of his knees, and has never developed the ability to communicate verbally. Yet, these different abilities do not hinder his will to share his happiness with others, love for the world, and his passion for physical activity and challenging his limits. As evident in Sean’s success story, The Human Race provides an enriching experience to Pine Castle’s residents who participate in both fundraising and competing in the race.
Just like Sean, the rest of Team Pine Castle is very special. Team Pine Castle, made up of staff members, group home residents, and their families, is not simply remarkable because many of their strongest and most determined adult participants are learning to live with their disabilities. This year, their ability to use their passion, perseverance, and love for their cause raised more than $10,000 dollars and made them the top fundraiser out of all the participating organizations.
Pine Castle treats The Human Race as much more than just a fundraiser. Their residents do not always have the freedom to explore Jacksonville’s vibrant community; but, The Human Race gives them an exciting opportunity to meet many new people, travel outside of their home, and push themselves to be physically active. DuVal Malone, director of Community Relations at Pine Castle, explained the main source of the excitement and joy that the race brings the participants as, “the simple idea that there are so many people who want to be out at the race with them to support Pine Castle.”
At the race itself, anyone watching the participants together can feel the sense of community and pride felt amongst Team Pine Castle’s members. The family and friends of the residents realize how beneficial this opportunity can be when donating both their money and time, which shows that their efforts support Pine Castle’s residents in many more ways than one. With their outstanding participation, personal fundraising efforts, and undeniable team spirit, Team Pine Castle continuously sets an example for all nonprofits interested in raising money and spreading their message through The Human Race.
Pine Castle is an organization working to enrich the lives of adults with acquired and developmental disabilities by providing them with opportunities to learn, work, and live in their community. As shown by their many years of top fundraising in The Human Race, Pine Castle’s methods of branching out to their community of family, friends, and outside supporters are unparalleled in their success. Pine Castle consists of seventeen different working shops, which provide support and education for profoundly disabled residents who are working towards full self-care. Each of these different workshops and other areas of the campus form their own “team within the team,” and through smaller team efforts, residents are encouraged to ask their families, friends, and loved ones to donate little bits of time and money to the overall effort.
When asked about advice that Team Pine Castle would give to other nonprofits interested in participating in The Human Race, DuVal Malone emphasized the importance of clearly communicating your organization’s purpose- “It is surprising how generous people will be when they know your organization’s message and goal… Don’t hesitate to say, ‘This is how much money we are trying to raise, and this is WHY.” In the months leading up to the fundraiser, Team Pine Castle displays a thermometer poster in their lobby, for the sole purpose of attracting the attention of passerby and clearly indicating to these passerby the “WHY” of their fundraising efforts. According to DuVal, this eye-catching display gets people who come to visit Pine Castle asking more questions about the Human Race and sparks conversation, which often encourages these people to donate money to their cause.
After hearing the story of Pine Castle’s phenomenal successes in fundraising through The Human Race, it is clear that successful fundraising, engaging your organization’s community, and encouraging interested donors to connect with your purpose and those you are serving, are all one in the same. From this truly special organization, all organizations interested in the Human Race, or any sort of fundraising effort, can see the vast possibilities fundraising brings to raise much more than money for any organization.
HandsOn Jacksonville offers The Human Race as a cost-free, risk-free opportunity for any nonprofit organization, civic group, school group or religious organization to raise funds to support their great causes. For information on how to participate, visit handsonjacksonville.org/race