Cory Scheer, dean of admissions at William Jewell College (WJC), has been a major force in the charity run craze sweeping the country in more ways than one. Having originally set his sights on completing 12 marathons in 12 months, in 2014 he found that he would exceed these expectations by completing 13 marathons in 12 months.
He decided to create and organize a run of his own. This particular run, the Basic Needs Virtual 5K, was designed to use the latest technology in running, blending physical activity with computer programs created to track progress.
A virtual 5K, according to the philanthropy organization Running for Imogen, is often staged during a set time, but it differs from traditional events as there is no regulated or mandatory location for it. Rather than being limited to a certain area, participants can complete their required distances wherever they like, whether on a track, in a park or on a treadmill, through a process enabled by Fitbits, apps or a combination of the two. Depending on the organizers, some Virtual 5Ks also allow for other forms of movement such as skipping or hopping. All of these accommodations allow potential charity donors to participate who may not have been able to do so otherwise, such as children or people in rural areas where philanthropic runs are not often staged.
“Anyone can participate from anywhere in the world,” said Scheer. “I wasn’t aware of other virtual 5Ks when I created the Basic Needs Virtual 5K. However, I later discovered several other virtual 5Ks and they continue to gain popularity.”
Scheer’s involvement in the virtual 5K movement began while he was recovering from a severe bicycling accident in July 2013 that led to a concussion and multiple lacerations. Despite needing 300 stitches, he returned to his beloved running circuit four weeks after the incident. The close call led him to consider what he could do for the world with his hobby. He had already begun training for Ironman competitions but opted to take it further with his 12 marathon goal and the Basic Needs Virtual 5K.
“Running the 13 marathons in 12 months and facilitating the Virtual 5k for over 800 people taught me the importance of utilizing running as a platform to encourage others to help those with significant needs,” said Scheer.
The Basic Needs Virtual 5K, after months of planning became a reality in April 2014, raising $15,000 for five charities of Scheer’s choice: 200 Orphanages Worldwide, Living Water International, Raising a Reader KC, Camp to Belong and World Vision. The selection of these specific organizations had its basis in the concept of the five basic needs a person requires: shelter, water, education, food and love. While participants spanned with four countries, a large group of them came from the Kansas City area, extending to Jewell students themselves.
Scheer continues to create running-based philanthropic activities. His current project is as a volunteer team captain for Team World Vision—Kansas City aiming to raise funds for clean water efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. Students interested in helping can do so by donating money, registering for a race or buying a T-shirt here.
As he continues to work through his goal of changing the world through his hobby, he encourages other running enthusiasts on campus not just to do the same but to create their own charity models.
“There are many running races and events to learn from that have unique characteristics. I would encourage anyone planning their own event to connect it to a charity they are currently supporting and incorporate fun and unique elements,” said Scheer.