Start Early. Find your Tribe.
I decided in February of this year, that I wanted to host a Barbells for Boobs (BFB) event in September, at my CrossFit gym. I have had so many friends who have gone through breast cancer surgery and treatment that I just felt in my heart that I needed to get the word out about Barbells for Boobs and what they are doing to help members of our CrossFit community. They’re amazing!
Fortunately for me, I reached out to the number one person who was in the position to be my biggest ally, Janis Heckel. She is a rockstar on so many levels. There truly aren’t enough words to describe her fundraising talent and prowess. In the past, she had worked for the City of Anaheim in a similar arena so she already knew the “ins and outs” of what it takes to host a successful event. So, when I say, “Find your tribe.” I mean it. You absolutely need to find other like-minded individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the work.
So, what are some of the line items that need to be addressed when hosting a B4B event?
Make sure you promote your event both internally and externally. Use social media. Post your event to your box pages and stories. Invite and tag other boxes to come and attend. Follow up with direct messaging. Hang signs at your box and signs off equipment. Have a whiteboard listing the event and asking for donations from your members. (We even listed that we needed a DJ and were able to get one this way!)
Try to solicit donations for silent auction/opportunity drawing no later than 2 months in advance. Send out emails and possibly snail mail letters to businesses, and ask or call if you know anyone personally in the position to donate. (We wanted some fruit for our goodie bags as well as lemons for donated vodka shots. Ironically, our box happened to have a member who is a produce distributor. Voila!)
Decide whether you will be offering a fun prize for the winners of Grace: M/F 1,2,3? Scaled? Masters? It’s totally up to you! (See if you can create a prize from some of your donations!)
Invite local clothing, food, product, and health-type vendors to sell their products/services and ask for a min. $100 donation for their spot. Everyone was extremely willing to participate.
If you can see if you can find someone willing to bring their DJ equipment and donate their time. It really does make a difference. The vibe is so much better and the energy is heightened by live beats.
Set Up Your Team and Personal Fundraising Page
I found that many people, even after our efforts, didn’t know or understand what BFB was. So, I posted on my social media my individual fundraising efforts and found that I was able to raise a significant amount that way. I also emailed a letter asking for donations to my contact list. And my largest single donation, $5K, was procured by simply striking up a conversation at a meeting of another non-profit I belong to.
At the beginning of the day, participants need to check-In to get their heat times and t-shirt. We decided to offer a branded t-shirt to our participants.
Set Up and Clean Up
I cannot be impressed enough by how important it is to be super organized with setting up and cleaning up. It took over 4 hours to set up, and 30 minutes to tear everything down. But with the latter, we had help. We asked for a local printer to donate a “Welcome” banner which we hung by our roll-up doors. We also had balloons and streamers adorning the pull-up rigs to add a pop of color and some coaches kindly striped our floors with lanes in pink duct tape.
Make sure you take lots of photos and share them with your vendors and participants. We also made a sheet of all of our donors and what they donated, and we made sure to post it on our social media, around the gym, and in our newsletter. You can never thank someone enough for their time and generosity.
In fact, we have had many vendors as well as participants already mention that they were looking forward to participating again next year.
Hosting a Competition Along with BFB
Our gym decided to host a 2 person F/F, M/M competition right after our Grace heats, and offered some of the proceeds to go to BFB. It was a unique way for members and attended who don’t usually compete to see one in action.
In hindsight, I would have liked to have had the winners of BFB have their time in the spotlight/podium. Although we called out their names, we didn’t spend enough time appreciating these participants and allowing them to have a photo op moment. We were a little too busy prepping for the competition.
Ask at the beginning of the event if there are any survivors or persons going through treatment attending. And dedicate the event to them. They are real heroes and warriors.
Lastly, I would suggest that you make sure your reach out to the fantastic team at Barbells for Boobs. They are a wonderful support system and they have participated in and at and have seen events from the extravagant to the small. They have resources and knowledge. Use them. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. They have created templates for you to download and use. They are tried and true.
Most of all, have fun! Hug one another. Be grateful and blessed for friends, family, and most importantly, your health.