Running For A Cause: the J/P Haitian Relief Organization

By Claudio Gonzalez

Building a successful business is great, but doing it while giving back is even better. This year, SCM Connections did just that by matching every dollar that our partner, Claudio Gonzalez, raised through his funding for the J/P HRO charity.  J/P HRO is an organization whose mission is “To save lives and build sustainable programs with the Haitian people quickly and effectively.” Claudio ran the New York City marathon on behalf of those in need and raised awareness for such a significant cause.

SCM Connections believes that as we continue to build our company, we cannot forget that there are millions of people who are rebuilding their lives after terrible disasters such as the 2010 earthquake.   As a company, we’re excited to have contributed half of Claudio’s funds ($2,000 total raised), which will go towards “empowering these (Haitian) families by bridging emergency response and community-driven development, leveraging direct service implementation as a model in capacity building of local institutions, and harmonizing programs at the field-level with policy and advocacy at the national level and beyond.” (See more here.) As a company, we’re committed to continuing to develop a corporate social responsibility, which will directly benefit those in need.

Damian Merlo, an advisor to the Prime Minister of Haiti and friend of Claudio’s says, “Seeing firsthand the work of J/P HRO, and spent time with Sean (Penn) in Haiti is an inspiration for anyone who cares about the Haitian people. When I first approached J/P HRO with the idea that my good friend, Claudio Gonzalez, would run to help raise awareness and fund, they jumped at the opportunity. Claudio is no stranger to charitable causes in Haiti, as when he ran the North Pole Marathon, he also did it to benefit Haiti via the Happy Hearts Fund ran by Petra Nemcova. I am proud of Claudio’s dedication and I am sure J/P HRO and the people of Haiti are equally grateful for his time and dedication to help those in need.”

Claudio marathon no. 1Here’s a recap of Claudio’s race: “Excitement was in the air on Sunday morning as we arrived in Staten Island for the start of the New York City Marathon. Over 50,000 runners were waiting for the start of the race.  We were lucky, as the temperatures were about 50 degrees and not too cold. Just before 10am, Wave 1 was given the green flag to move to the starting line. The start of every marathon is exhilarating, and I didn’t even realize that we were going up a pretty steep hill on the Verrazano bridge up.

Once exiting the bridge, Brooklyn begins. I can never give justice at the number of people that line the streets cheering for every runner; it’s truly a sight to see. We ran through Brooklyn for the first 13 miles of the race. The first half of the race is all fun and games, but then the real race begins. By the time we reached mile 15, we were in Queens and looking at another long bridge to climb: Queensboro, which takes you right into Manhattan.

By the time you leave the bridge, you have a pretty good idea how the last 10 miles will fare. I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  My pace was decreasing slowly, every step was harder than the next. But again, the crowd almost lifts you and carries you, which is how I felt. Before I knew it, I was entering the Bronx, where we were for less than a mile before heading back to Manhattan, via 5th Ave.

The last five miles of the race were a blur; my legs did not want to move and each mile seemed endless. Again the crowd cheered so loud that giving up was never an option; the mental battled continued and the body responded by moving forward. By the time I reached mile 25, I knew that my 15th marathon was on the books. I started thinking about all the miles that I had completed and that there were only a few more yards were in front of me.  It was a feeling of total elation. I must say, thinking about the great cause that I was running for made the pain become tolerable.  If those people could survive an earthquake of such magnitude and gather the strength to continue to move forward, the answer was easy, so could I on those last few steps. And just like that, 3 hours and 52 minutes after I started, with all the excitement in the world at the Verrazano bridge, I was now at the finish line in Central Park, with a different type excitement but equal intensity, and maybe a little tired.”

For more information and to donate to the J/P HRO organization, click here.

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