BY JEREMY MARTIN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Have you ever wondered if there were a place where the worlds of fitness, networking, philanthropy, and coffee all co-exist? For one day in April at least, such a setting will be Seattle’s South Lake Union Park.
The 3rd annual Java Jog, taking place April 10 in conjunction with the 2015 Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Event will welcome upwards of 300 runners all hoping to raise money for coffee women in Ethiopia, while working up a healthy sweat in the process.
Kimberly Easson, Aimee Russillo, and Beth Ann Caspersen dreamed up the inaugural event during the fall of 2012 and successfully executed the race in Boston. Fifteen heavily bundled participants hit the pavement in the spring of 2013 at that year’s SCAA show, braving temperatures only a smidge warmer than those being experienced in this year’s polar vortex.
œOur first year, we didn’t hire a professional race company. It was really just this idea that we had started talking about in November of 2012. We started reaching out informally to people. They were people we knew in the coffee industry that liked to run, Caspersen said.That first year, Java Joggers raised more than $7,000.
When the 2014 SCAA came to Seattle, more than 200 runners turned out for the event, and raised over $34,000, every penny of which was sent to various organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The money helped to improve working conditions for women in the DRC, as well as to help fight, what it turns out is rampant sexual abuse in the coffee-growing industry; a problem that sadly exists all over the globe.
œAt the time, the DRC was just a total wreck. It’s a really sad story when you hear about one women being raped per minute in the Congo. Raising awareness about sexual violence was a big driver in organizing our first run, Caspersen said. œWhen we went to create a formal race in 2014, we felt that people could still relate to that idea and think about and understand that women in the DRC are dealing with these high rates of sexual violence so we wanted to promote that country again.
When planning for the 2015 Java Jog, organizers chose Ethiopia as a focus for the fundraising in part because that nation is the SCAA’s 2015 Portrait Country.
œWhen we started working on the 2015 event, we decided we wanted to pair it with the portrait country for SCAA and it turns that there is a high rate of sexual violence and domestic violence, female genital mutational among other problems. But we don’t want to tell just the horror stories, we want to show a side of hope and of organizations that are doing a lot of good work in regards to women, Caspersen said.
Every dollar raised, save for the cost of hiring Race for Good, a professional race organizing team, will go directly to woman’s groups in Ethiopia; and there are many ways to donate.
Race entrance fees are $50 for the 5k or $100 for the 10k, but those less inclined to run 3+ miles before the rest of the Saturday festivities can simply donate money online, or sponsor a particular racer by donating money online to their ‘team.’
Volunteering time is also an important and highly appreciated way to help out.
œWe need somewhere in the area of 20 volunteers. We have a fantastic professional race company they did a great job last year but we didn’t have a enough volunteers, that was a struggle,” says Caspersen. “People don’t have to run or walk if they don’t want to, we’re happy to have everybody.”
Java Jog needs people willing to stand along the race course to guide runners, people to help with check in and logistics as well as folks who can hand out water and snacks to participants.
And its not just volunteers Java Jog is seeking ”companies, too, can play a part in the event by sponsoring the race, either as a title sponsor or by joining one of several sponsorship levels.
œIn a lot of ways, that’s the foundation of the support system that helps us pay for the race ”the sponsors are essential. After that everything else, all of the money goes to women in Ethiopia. The platinum sponsor is $5,000 and [that company] is the sponsor of the entire event. [The company’s name is] on the race t-shirts, all of the posters, all of the promos,” she says.
There are other sponsorship levels range from the product sponsor level, which contributes items to the race day gift pack, up to the $2,500 gold level, where companies will have their logos on the finish line, on promotional information, and the race t-shirt.
Whether runners, walkers, donors, or sponsors, everyone involved in this year’s Java Jog will be able to see online exactly where each and every dollar is going. And with a little luck, it’ll be a beautiful spring day in Seattle for the run.
œThe race last year was perfect, the temperature, the weather, everything. It’s flat and beautiful and its Seattle! Seattle is an amazing city, Caspersen said.
If you’re on the fence about participating, take note that even the women putting in all their time and effort to pull off the race will be outside hitting the pavement when the gun sounds ”and they’ll be out there to win!
œI’m running! I love this race, this is my motivation to go out and run. I’ll be ready. Kimberley will be running. I’m not sure about Aimee, she didn’t last year because we didn’t have enough volunteers. I’m upping the stakes a little this year, I did the 5k last year and this year I’m doing the 10k, Caspersen said.
More information on Java Jog can be found here: javajog.org