The Rescuing Our Next Generation 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run is this Saturday, April 15 at Canal Park in Oldsmar.
If you are not a runner (author included!), the thought of competing in a 5K race is not fun.
If you are a runner, organizing a 5K charity race is about as much fun as watching, and waiting, and waiting, for a giraffe to give birth.
So what SPC student and Oldsmar resident Chanel Gianelli is doing—creating, organizing, hosting and participating in the Rescuing Our Next Generation 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run on Saturday, April 15 at Oldsmar’s Canal Park—could be considered borderline insanity to some.
But don’t tell that to Chanel.
The 30-year-old hair stylist decided years ago that developing a step-by-step guide for creating charity event was going to be the focus of her capstone graduation project, and after months of planning, marketing and researching how to go about doing it, the avid runner is anxious to see how her creation, which will serve as a public blueprint for the process, turns out.
“In my public policy program at SPC, the capstone required us to do something within the community that we’re passionate about,” Gianelli told Oldsmar Connect days after appearing before the City Council to promote her event.
“I had worked with Hope Children’s Home, a faith based nonprofit located on a beautiful property in Tampa, in the past, and I wanted to do more for them, so this seemed like a good fit.”
30-year-old hair stylist, runner and SPC student Chanel Gianelli poses with her 4-year-old son, Joseph, following a recent 5K race. Credit: Chanel Gianelli.
After receiving approval from her professors in January, Gianelli said she spent hundreds of hours over the last three-plus months researching, racing and raising money, awareness and sponsors for her event, which will utilize a natural Canal Park course that’s never been used for a race before and won’t require street closures.
“It’s very safe and scenic,” she said of the course.
While juggling her job as a stylist and her duties as a mother to 4-year old son, Joseph, with planning the race, Gianelli said the hardest part of the whole process was securing sponsors and advertisers for the event, of which she said all the proceeds will go to the center.
“One-hundred percent getting sponsorships and getting advertisements for the event without paying for it was the hardest part,” she said.
“Just getting the name out there was incredibly hard, because the market is just flooded with these types of events. I couldn’t get corporate sponsorships because the event was too new, it had no history, so I had to go to small local businesses and get $100 and $200 donations.”
Gianelli is asking people to bring these items to the event on Saturday, even if you aren’t participating in the race.
“But one thing I learned from is that runners found it unique that one-hundred percent of our proceeds are going to the organization,” she added. “Ninety-nine percent of these races are done for organizations or charities, but in some cases, only a small portion goes to a charity. So people have said, wow that’s really cool.”
Gianelli admitted she thought about giving up when the bills piled up and the sponsorships were not coming in as she’d hoped.
“There were a few times I was going to cancel it because I couldn’t pay the fees,” she said.
But despite the difficulties, Gianelli was happy to report that all the expenses had been covered and everything had been paid for.
“We’ve now raised $1,200 with a week to go, and all that money and any future proceeds will go directly to the home,” she said while urging race participants to also donate items that are included on the home’s immediate needs list.
As she wrapped up the final week of preparations, which included her appearance before the city council and several media requests, Gianelli was excited to learn that counselors from the Hope Children’s Home would be bringing 20 kids to participate in the race festivities.
Canal Park is located at 3120 Tampa Road in Oldsmar.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s really coming along, and I think it’s going to be fabulous!”
Asked about her future plans, Gianelli said she wouldn’t rule out hosting another charity race.
“I haven’t really thought about that yet,” she said. “I haven’t been able to think that far ahead.”
“But if all goes well, I wouldn’t mind making this an annual thing, because I already have the blueprint!”
Luckily, it won’t take long for Gianelli to learn if Saturday’s event was a success.
She has to make her final capstone project presentation to her class on Monday.
For more in formation on the Rescuing Our Next Generation 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run, visit the event website.