I've always been a staunch vaccine supporter in my 18 years of private pediatric practice. Last year at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, I attended a training session to become an AAP advocate for Shot@Life:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics is a founding partner in the Shot@Life campaign. As an active partner, the Academy spreads the message that all kids deserve a shot at life and offers resources to help pediatricians educate patients, parents, and the community on the importance of international vaccine access."
Not much later, I happened to catch an email calling for applications for a mini-grant from the AAP for a Shot@Life project. Hmmmm.....I thought to myself. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the email to see a relatively short application. The wheels started turning.
The grant was for residents, members or chapters to support events that benefit global vaccine advocacy and the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. Not only was I a trained Shot@Life advocate but also a member of AAP national as well as current President of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (OKAAP). To top it off, I'm also the current President of the Enid Running Club (ERC). The idea really didn't take long to sprout.....a running/walking event that would give me the chance to fulfill the ERC's mission (to promote a healthier lifestyle through running and walking...), gather people together to advocate for Shot@Life and explain why global vaccinations are so important, and utilize the resources of the OKAAP, the ERC, and my job as a Pediatrician.
Wow, how many birds is that??
Probably the toughest part of the project was choosing the date. Like I said, I'm spread a little thin at times. As luck would have it, I was free the weekend of Mother's Day. What a fabulous fit for a global vaccine advocacy project centered around mothers! My project was to be called "Move For a Shot@Life" and it would be a 1 mile, 5K and 10K race.
Through the OKAAP - I had an executive director, Kim Estes, to help with planning as well as the OKAAP newsletter to spread the word.
Through my job as a Pediatrician, I had access to our medical office building which was the perfect venue for my project - registration was in the building lobby, restrooms were available, and the race would start out in the parking lot.
Through my connection with the ERC, I had equipment to borrow for the event: tables, chairs, a PA system, the ERC flag and mats that would mark the start/finish of the race, traffic cones to mark turn around points, a TV and stand to show the participants videos about Shot@Life. I had many ERC members who were available to help out on race day and participate in the event itself, a base of runners/walkers in the ERC Facebook Group and Page that I could advertise my event to, and access to online registration.
Because I was receiving a grant, I wanted to be able to make this event free to anyone who wanted to participate. This was a novelty in Enid - a FREE running/walking event? It was the first of its kind and I was forever grateful not to have to go to businesses or people asking for sponsorships or donations. I did partner with several businesses in town including both hospitals and our local Rotary Club and scored free advertising, a gift basket to give away, a donation (from Rotary - even though I didn't ask for one), and several other gifts to give away. I even had a few ERC members who are business owners step up and volunteer gifts to give away.
As if a free running/walking event wasn't enough, I further enticed participation by using some of the grant money to purchase gift cards - all from locally owned businesses, gave away t-shirts purchased from Shot@Life, and had water and snacks purchased for after the race.
On race day, the Saturday before Mother's Day, the weather was perfect - sunny with minimal wind.
The race started at 8:30 am.
Participants walked/ran as far as they wanted. The 1 mile, 5 km, and 10 km turnarounds were marked with signs and ERC traffic cones.
Following the race, we held drawings and gave away about 30 prizes that were either donated or purchased. The event was very well received and went off without a hitch.