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Published on September 15, 2020

Charities big winner at At-Home Falmouth Road Race

Virtual Road Race

The New Balance Falmouth Road Race, always a signature of summer on Cape Cod, was canceled in April, one of many casualties of the coronavirus pandemic. However, instead of scrapping the event completely and planning for 2021, the organizing committee pivoted to a virtual “At Home Edition” with a goal of being more inclusive and continuing to support the community.

To that end, Cape Cod Healthcare, for many years the official medical care provider for the event, played an important role this year by sponsoring the Numbers for Nonprofits program. Massachusetts charities purchased bib numbers from the race and recruited entrants to raise funds for their respective organizations. 

In all, 1,663 participants representing 99 Massachusetts nonprofit charities raised more than $1.6 million. More than $41 million has been raised through Numbers for Nonprofits since the program began in 2000.

Donations for charity teams will be accepted through the end of October. To donate to support Cape Cod Healthcare, please visit the GoFundMe team page.

“Our numbers were down from 2019, when we had 154 nonprofit organizations and raised a record $5.1 million,” said Andrea Norris, the race’s NFNP manager. “That’s understandable, but we’re thrilled with the support we’ve received from all the runners and Cape Cod Healthcare. This is a year unlike any other and so it's gratifying to see everyone come together.”

The race committee helped the NFNP program maximize fundraising by including free registration for those running for a charity that raised a required minimum dollar amount. Incentive prizes and experiences, including a donation match, were also offered to select participants by the race and its online fundraising partner, GoFundMe Charity.

Promoting Health and Wellness

Cape Cod Healthcare’s relationship with the road race is a natural fit since both have missions to promote health and wellness along with a philanthropic commitment. The Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation organized a team of 15 for the At-Home Edition with proceeds benefiting the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod Hospice.

“The road race is an integral part of Falmouth and the greater community, and it's a deeply personal experience for many,” said Beth Howard, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation manager of annual giving. “When the hard decision was made to switch to a virtual race it reinforced the seriousness of the pandemic. This is certainly a challenging time for many. We wanted to continue to be supportive and find a way to stay involved.”

Jere Doyle and his team “OntheDoyle” raised money for the CCHC Foundation through the Falmouth “At Home Edition” in memory of his mother, Mary-Joan Doyle Carson.

“Cape Cod Healthcare and Hospice/VNA nurses provided incredible treatment to my mother during her last months on the Cape,” wrote Doyle to his team members. “VNA/Hospice is an amazing organization. The care and compassion they offer to each patient every day is just incredible and something I, and many families, are forever grateful for. This is our way to help and support their good work.”

At-home satisfying substitute

The 48th renewal of the seven-mile seaside race from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights was originally scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 16. Typically, nearly 13,000 would have competed, including many of the elite runners in the world. But not in this year marked by uncertainty. While the festive atmosphere of race weekend was missing, the creative At Home solution proved to be a satisfying substitute designed to give everyone the opportunity to share in the experience.

At Home Falmouth was a two-week celebration representing 45 states and nine nations. It opened on Aug. 15 — the birthday of race founder Tommy Leonard — and continued through Aug. 29, 2020. More than 10,000 runners, joggers, walkers, strollers (and maybe even some swimmers?) are completing the seven miles in their own neighborhoods on their own terms and their own schedules.

“Although it’s sad to think of a summer in Falmouth without the usual spectacle along our shores, being able to share our race with those who otherwise might not get to experience the Falmouth spirit is definitely a plus,” said Scott Ghelfi, president of the Falmouth Road Race, Inc. board of directors. “We’re especially proud to be able to continue helping nonprofits in these difficult times, when other fundraising avenues have narrowed even as the needs have grown.”