Short Run, Big Impact
The moment I heard Dressember was hosting a 5K, I marked my calendar and started looking up flights. I wondered if I would have any LA-area weddings or graduations to go to that same weekend to sweeten the deal. I looked forward to running in Griffith Park, which you’ve seen in just about any movie set in Los Angeles. But as the day drew closer, I realized just how difficult it might be to make the trip, what with plane tickets costing what they do, starting a new job, and having my older sister staying with me.
And then the Dressember team announced that we could run in our own towns! I think I screamed with glee, or at least wanted to. Organizing a race here in Dover, DE would be a great way to get my own community involved in the fight to end trafficking. I was left with no excuse.
I have my own unique sphere of influence. Something I’ve learned through several years of participating in Dressember is that even if you think you don’t know enough people who would be willing and able to donate, you probably know people who do, and it’s a really good thing that we’re not all asking the same group of people to donate to Dressember. Sure, there will be plenty of people at Griffith Park on any given day, but there will be an entirely different set of people here in Delaware to see me do my Dressember 5K. And those people, in turn, each have their own spheres of influence.
Over the next few weeks, I researched different trails in my area as I tried to get other runners on board. In the end, I settled on running the 5K at a state park beach with just one other participant: my sister! Thunderstorms threatened to turn our beach-side run into a treadmill trot, but we ended up with a three-hour window that was entirely free from rain, even if we had to watch out for puddles along the way! And as my high school cross country coach would always say, “The rain will make you run faster!” My sister wore her race bib, which read, “I HATE SLAVERY MORE THAN RUNNING,” on the front of her dress. I wore my, “ASK ME WHY I’M RUNNING,” race bib on my back.
As I ran (and walked) the 3.1 miles, I listened to the special podcast that the Dressember team had put together. It really did help me remember why I was running: to bring freedom and hope to those who truly need it. Knowing that this 5K was coming encouraged me to finally start running regularly again, and although I didn’t run the whole way, I was honored to be a small part of something much bigger. You can still listen to the podcast here.
Our simple act of running in dresses on a cloudy day caused several people to ask questions. During the run, a man and his son asked my sister about it and said they had heard of Dressember. After we finished our run, a woman with her husky dog asked us why we were running and remarked that back in Philadelphia they are trying to educate the public about warning signs of trafficking. She told us she would look up more about Dressember when she got home. We went in town to reward ourselves with coffee, breakfast, shopping, and sightseeing - and we kept our race bibs on! The tour guide at a historic home asked us all about Dressember, and by this time my sister felt brave enough to help explain it to her. I was impressed! My own sister, who has watched me do the Dressember thing for the past three years and was hesitant to join me on this silly 5K, was personally championing the cause! Not everyone can commit to 31 days of dresses, but this 5K is a perfect short-term opportunity to get involved.
While we ate our breakfast, the craziest thing happened, something I never thought would happen in little old Delaware. I was sitting with my back facing the window where anyone walking by could see my race bib. A man came into the cafe just to talk to us, and he was very eager to learn about Dressember. Here’s the crazy part: he was from Las Vegas and organizes runs like this all over the world. We told him about CAST, and he agreed that they were an organization very worth supporting. He took a picture of my sister’s race bib so that he would be reminded to do some more research.
It just goes to show you that we really never know who will notice us in our dresses in the middle of December or on a run in May. I felt so encouraged by the women - and men - with whom I was able to virtually run.
It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, or what you have - you can be a Dressember advocate, and you can do anything in a dress!
Small Run, Big Impact.
Join us on April 13th for our second annual 'You Can Do Anything in a Dress (or Tie)' 5k. Run in our Los Angeles 5k/Yoga event or run virtually in your own city! Set up your free campaign page and purchase tickets for the LA event today!
About the Author
Rae Rohm is an avid baker, an enthusiastic storyteller, and a thoughtful writer who hails from Delaware. She is a graduate of Biola University, where she studied journalism. When she is not teaching people about the glories of her home state, she can be found enjoying nature with her sweet but mischievous puppy, singing along to music while running on the treadmill, and making gifts for her family and friends. Rae loves using her skills and talents to bring all people - past and present, near and far - into fellowship with one another.