Team Vegan 2009
|Mark and Kristie.|
Every once in a while, it is useful to stop and look back, to get a sense of how far we’ve come.
This is easy for us, because we only have to think back a short 14 years ago, and remember the time spent in our combination living room, TV room, Vegan Outreach office, Ellen’s playroom, and Jack’s bedroom. Hours and hours there, hand-collating, stapling, and folding each and every one of our early booklets, back when 10,000 would last us for months.
And now, Vegan Outreach activists can hand out more than 10,000 booklets across the continent in a single day!
Still, there are disheartening moments, especially as the economy continues to spiral and many people’s priorities change. Canceled donations, booklet restrictions, declining distribution, combined with an increased focus by some on the short-term…at times, all this can make real, fundamental change seem depressingly far away.
|Lisa, Kathy, Alex, and Henry before the race.|
But then…there’s Team Vegan!
Of course, we are always humbled to work with donors willing to dedicate their hard-earned money to Vegan Outreach’s work. And the incredible efforts of our activists – out there, day after day in all weather – are a constant source of motivation.
But it has been downright thrilling to be a part of Team Vegan, even at a distance, with such enthusiasm and energy expressed every day (special thanks to Alex for her regular reports). The runners, donors, sponsors, and volunteers have been like double shots of espresso, with your focus and hard work on making this group of people a real team, while ensuring the fundraiser for the animals was a tremendous success.
|Steve, Drew, Jeff, and Jen.|
The hardest single thing, really, is trying to come up with words even remotely adequate to express our admiration and appreciation for John and Fany, who put forth the money for the matching challenge. In this time of cutbacks and contraction, they stepped into the gap, not only so their money has the maximum impact, but so that everyone else – from the $10 donor to the $10,000 donor – was able to have their contribution go twice as far for the animals!
At first, we were afraid we might have overreached, and that, despite the great people who signed up for Team Vegan, raising $75K in a few months was just too much to ask. And when some of the remote runners dropped out early on, there were moments when it seemed unclear if all the money would be able to be put to work for the animals.
Yet you stuck it out and dropped the hammer, blowing through your fundraising goals and continuing on to new records! As Alex wrote: “We hoped to raise $75,000. Insane! An impossible goal! And people who didn’t run at all were hoping to race 13.1 miles. Insane! An impossible goal! But the team raised $93,211! With John and Fany’s match, that is $168,211 to help animals and create a kinder, saner, vegetarian world.”
|Michelle and Dan with Team Vegan shirts.|
How can we express just how much good this money will do? As always, we wish we could show pictures of the animals saved, or tell specific stories of the individuals rescued.
But if we stop and think about the world we all want, we know that it will have to be rooted in one simple realization: our fellows aren’t food. To create this world will require opening hearts and minds, one at a time, which is what Vegan Outreach activists are doing, many times over, each and every day.
Of course, none of these activists’ efforts would be possible without John and Fany, as well as the other donors who stepped up for the animals. This group is too long to list here, but a quick survey of Team Vegan’s site shows the vital contributions of Steve K, Keyur & Shilpa, Joanna, Mark, Dan, Steve S, and Kevin. Everyone’s donations kept the runners focused (even in Tucson’s summer!), and raising even more money – especially the top fundraisers Michelle, Vijay, and Jen! And Tamara and Jeff, training remotely!
There are so many others to thank, including:
- Number 1 Chef Jesse Miner (right)
- Prom volunteers Kristie, Mark M, Mark F, Henry, Michelle, Deedra, and Jaci
- New ultramarathoner for the animals Michelle
- Henry and Steve S for sponsoring the crazy ultra
- Team carbo-loaders Jeff and Drew
- Yoga guru Andrea
- Too many things to mention Mark
- Prom King and Queen Vijay and Jagu
- Go-to gal Kristie
- Coach Darren
|Goodies at the pre-race carbo-loading party.|
In addition to the companies that made the SF Vegan Prom a success, we also have to thank Team Vegan’s sponsors Clif Bar, Turtle Island Foods, and Wildwood Organics. And, of course, prize providers Millennium Restaurant, Greens Restaurant, Pangea, The Vegetarian Site, Vegan Essentials, and Trader Joe’s.
Along with the fun, fitness, camaraderie, and inspiration, we always remain focused on the bottom line. Writing after his run, Jack summarized, “Know that because of what you’ve done, Vegan Outreach leafleters will be out there in full force, taking another step in this marathon towards eventual animal liberation.” Or, as we’ve written elsewhere:
|Vijay, Jagu, and Sprocket.|
Because of the number of individuals suffering and the reason for this hidden brutality, animal liberation is the moral imperative of our time. We can be the generation that brings about this next great ethical advance. We should revel in the freedom and opportunity we have to be part of something so profound, something fundamentally good.
Fewer than four hundred years ago, the Inquisition sentenced Galileo to prison for pointing out that the Earth is not the center of the physical universe. With our efforts, society will recognize that humans are not the center of the moral universe, and will look back with horror and disgust on the subjugation of animals for food. This century can be the one in which society stops torturing and slaughtering our fellow earthlings for a fleeting taste of flesh.
It is up to us to make this happen.
It is no exaggeration to say that each of you, who made Team Vegan 2009 such a success, are truly the cutting edge, making this necessary change happen, every single day.
Our heartfelt and sincere thanks!