With more than 70 credit unions and CU organizations from across the country, 7,000 runners (3,800 of whom identified themselves as credit union members), 30 CU teams fielded by about 20 credit unions and more than $190,000 raised for the Children's Miracle Network, the CU Cherry Blossom Run was a wild success.
"Every number you can look at grew from last year," said Bill Brooks, chairman of the race and CEO of Lafayette FCU. "We had credit unions from all over the country participate this year-California, Texas, Wyoming, New York, Pennsylvania, you name it. It was really a community-wide event. We had more than 460 credit union volunteers on the race course. We raised a little over $190,000, and the money is still coming in. I was floored by that. I would have been thrilled if we had doubled it from last year, which would have put us at $130,000, and we did $190,000. Last year, we weren't sure how this would go over. Now, this is a permanent thing."
Although the 10-mile race has been run under the CU name for just two years, it's been around under various sponsors for 30 years and is part of the capital's signature, two-week-long Cherry Blossom Festival.
Using the race as a backdrop for a CMN fundraiser, credit unions not only fielded teams of runners in a competition of speed but also competed to raise the most money (measured on a per capita basis to give smaller credit unions a chance to best their larger counterparts).
"It's really taken on a life of its own," Brooks observed. "Our vision of raising money for Children's Miracle Network goes beyond the Cherry Blossom Run, now we're looking at a series of regional races, starting with Texas, California, New York and Florida. That's the long-range vision."
In addition to raising money for a good cause, the race is also helping to raise awareness on Capitol Hill. "We had more than 300 Capitol Hill staffers run it this year. Last year, there were 235, so that's grown, too," Brooks related. "And that's important, because when people say credit unions don't do things for their communities, those Hill staffers know better. Capitol Hill knows now we're here."
While war worries and other issues ended up canceling the marathon that was supposed to have been run just weeks before the Cherry Blossom Run, Brooks said there were no security problems in the planning and execution of the race.