In April 2018, Foreign Service community members in at least 68 cities around the world will “compete” in the fourth annual Around the World Virtual 5k. Teams and individuals simply run or walk a 5k during the month of April, share a picture with the worldwide group, and support a charitable cause.
This year, the chosen cause is the AAFSW Crisis Fund. Started by EFM Sheila Switzer and other volunteers, the fund provides financial grants to EFMs in need. Often these grants help women facing divorce and lacking a home, a support network, or a job due to living abroad. Past grants have included funds to buy diapers and milk for a baby, get help for an EFM while she looked for a job, and provide consultations with lawyers in divorce cases. Sheila tells of EFMs who have spent time in shelters, stayed with volunteers, or even lived in their cars since they lacked access to funds during a divorce.
The Around the World 5k has previously raised funds for the Diamond Blackfan Disorder Foundation, the AAFSW Crisis Fund, and Syrian Refugee Children (through Justgiving.com). Donations from the past three years have totaled $8681.00!
The event has grown steadily over time. We started with just 22 participating cities our first year, and this year we already have 68 cities signed up.
Runners participate in cold climates, under the beating sun, or in the pouring rain, and they tell tales of dodging donkeys, giraffes, and scary looking spiders. Kids love to participate, and we often have a good share of furry runners as well.
While there aren’t competitive prizes, since every runner battles different challenges, there are random drawings for gifts as a small thank you to participants. Each year, three winners get a handmade pottery mug with the Around the World 5k logo. There have also been other prizes such as t-shirts and Foreign Service books.
To participate, join the Facebook group and see if there is already a “team” in your area. Walk or run your race anytime in April, take a photo of yourself and post it to the Facebook page. You can even order t-shirts for your team, with this year’s winning design by EFM Lauren Ketchum. You can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/790705520975844/
Each participant is encouraged to make a donation to the AAFSW Crisis Fund after running the race. We are hoping that a few thousand dollars will come together this way to help Foreign Service community members in acute need. Donate at www.aafsw.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you’ll join us, wherever in the world you are!
Leah Evans, Mexico City