Event Planning: Part 1 – The Background

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I missed last Monday’s post. It was the first Monday in 63 weeks that I missed publishing something. Part of me is a little embarrassed. The other part recognizes that I should have planned better and created a post in advance. The rest of me isn’t worried because it’s my belief that you can miss something, mess something up, fall off the wagon, and still come back. Who knows…maybe you make a better, stronger comeback.

Last Monday, I was hanging with one of my favorite humans on the whole planet!

I mentioned poor planning as one of my reasons for not publishing something last week, and at the same time, I am working with my team to plan an upcoming seminar a.k.a “event“. As I think about our planning, it reminded me of the first set of events that I was responsible for planning, and I am reminded of all of the mistakes that I made that year. This week, I will give some background about the event(s) that I was responsible for planning and executing, and next week, I will share some lessons learned (in case you are interested in creating or setting up your own event).

Let’s go back to 2012

I was happy. I loved my job as an Instructor at the local community college. I was training for my first Half-Ironman competition. I had great friends and a good life. I volunteered in my spare time, and that volunteerism led me to an event planning job with the non-profit that got most of my free time and attention. I knew that I wasn’t qualified for the role, and I think that everyone who knew what the role entailed knew that I wasn’t qualified either, but I jumped in with both feet, and I learned more in that 1 year than any other year of my professional life.

2012: Galveston Half Ironman, my first 70.3 mile race.

THE JOB

I was hired to be the National Race Director for a non-profit organization that supports wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen. My husband is a Marine, and he was wounded in the Battle for Fallujah in 2004. Getting the phone call that he had been shot was a phone call that didn’t surprise him, but it was a kick in the gut for me. I knew he was at war, but no one thinks that their Marine will actually get shot. Needless to say, those events, and the events of our lives thereafter, gave me a drive to do anything that I could do to support military spouses. As I mentioned before, I had been volunteering with the organization, so when the role for the National Race Director opened up, I was highly interested in exploring it. I was a runner. I had attended race events. I loved the organization. I was driven to support wounded service members and their families, and I was especially driven to support spouses who had lost their loved ones in war. This led me to believe that I could, in fact, do this big job.

Fall 2013: Me, doing Race Director things.

HOW BIG WAS THE JOB?

I remember sitting in the Founder/President/CEO of the non-profit’s office, and I asked her, “Do you want me to focus on getting more runners to your existing races, or do you want me to create more races?” Her answer was emphatically, “Both!” When she said that, I knew that I was in for something much bigger than I had signed up for, but once again, I was driven and motivated; I did not want to let her down. I would take on the position that had 9 races, and over the course of the year, we grew the program to 13 races. This was no small feat, but to make it even more challenging, none of the races were in the same geographic location. The races would take me up and down the east coast, and to the west coast as well. We also increased the participants in ALL of the existing races. In some of the races, we increased them beyond our capacity. (I will share more about that in next week’s blog.) Our budget was small, but our vision was big.

THE OUTCOME

We raised a ton of money. We raised more money, than any of us had anticipated, and we kept expenses lower than the proposed budget. I did my job, and I did it well. We supported wounded service members, allowing them to participate in our races, to be surrounded by other service members and their families, and we made an impact on thousands of lives. The awareness we raised for the organization spanned across the country. We created events so that people could finish their first 5K, 10K, or half marathon. We put smiles of pride and triumph on more faces than I can count. It was an incredible year, and I faced more challenges than I could manage. Mid way through the year, I let that same Founder/President/CEO, who wanted me to grow races and implement more, know that if I was not able to get additional support, then I would be resigning at the end of the year. Sadly, I resigned at the end of 2013. I worked harder that one year than any other year of my adult life, and I made an impact. I also had a mental breakdown. Relationships crumbled. I vowed never to work again. Simply stated, I was a disaster. Fortunately, time and self-help heal wounds, and I came back mentally stronger than I had ever been. I repaired some of the damaged relationships (others never fully rebounded), and I have chosen to work again. I am also back to planning events albeit much smaller, bi-annual events, and on a volunteer basis only, but back to planning and executing.

Every time I put a medal around someone’s neck, I knew it was special.

As I said at the beginning, sometimes you fall, you fail, you mess up, and sometimes you come back stronger, better, and more equipped. I know whole-heartedly that I have come back a better, mentally stronger person, and I am now better able to help others because of what I learned that year.

Come back next week if you are interested in some of the details of what I did right and wrong in planning events, and if you don’t choose to come back next week, then just remember that falling, failing, messing up, missing a week, or whatever doesn’t mean it’s over. It just means you might be able to come back better or stronger.

Published by mondaymorningwithmona

I am a Texan, runner, military spouse, reader, a giver and a good friend.

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