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Runner of the Month – April

Runner of the Month

Meet Michael Mentel, our inspirational KCA Runner of the Month! He’s been part of Team KCA since 2023, having run the New York City Marathon that year. Now, he’s gearing up to conquer the 2024 New York City Marathon with Team KCA once again.

After years of chasing a spot in the NYC Marathon, fate intervened and led Michael to Team KCA, a charity that supports children. Not only did he achieve his running dream, but he also raised over $8600 for a cause he deeply cares about. Learn how Michael navigated fundraising, choose the right gear, and achieved his goals while making a difference for children.

Why did you choose Team KCA and to run for Keep a Child Alive?
To be honest, the relationship formed between KCA and myself was more them choosing me, and a little bit of fate.  I was desperately trying to get into the nyc marathon, and after not getting in via general entry (like basically everyone else), I went the charity route.  I reached out to so many, and after endless emails telling me I was on their waitlists, I basically gave up.  I let the idea of me running the race go, and a couple weeks passed.  I then gave it one more shot and looked at the charity list and saw KCA and shot them an email to inquire about running with them.  How they still had a spot left for me that late in the game I’ll never know.  However, I truly thought it was just meant to be.  All the charities that I emailed previously were ones that focused on children.  First and foremost in my life, I am a dad.  It’s the most incredible thing I’ll ever call myself, and without a doubt the most rewarding.  It’s also hard, and to know that the money I raise gives kids and their families a better chance at making it all work means very much to me.  Raising my kiddo all by myself would be incredibly difficult, and my fundraising efforts for KCA is a way I can pay it forward to others and hopefully make their lives a little bit easier.
How many races you have completed?
I’ve been running for many years (I’m old lol), but didn’t start running races until 15yrs ago or so.  I’ve completed around 10 or 12 half marathons, and 3 fulls (LA, Portland, and NYC).
What fundraising tips do you have to share?
Before last year’s fundraising campaign for KCA, I had never done anything like that before.  Honestly, in the beginning it’s pretty daunting.  You think to yourself, why are people gonna want to get on board with this?  I don’t want to be asking people for money etc.  My first tip would be to get over those thoughts as quickly as you can.  People like helping others, and being a part of something; and also, they like you.  They want to support you and your ambitions, they want to see you succeed.  If they can accomplish this AND know that the money they donate is going to a wonderful charity whose mission is to help kids, they’ll donate if they can.  You just have to ask.
Next, use whatever platform you can to reach as many people as possible.  Obviously use social media to your advantage, but use other people’s platforms who have a greater reach than you as much as you can.  I run a restaurant and our owners were gracious enough to let me use the restaurant as a fundraising headquarters so to speak (thank you Culinary Creative Group!).  We planned a charity fundraising event called “Margaritas and a Marathon” where a portion of each margarita sold that day would go to KCA. We used checkdrops for this event for a month or so prior to get people excited and on board, and had the qr code on there so people could donate if they wanted to right on the spot.  This event got me across the finish line of my fundraising goal.  And just to circle back to what I was saying before, so many guests asked “hey, when’s the race?”  “Have you been training?”  “How are you feeling?”  “How’d the race go?!” etc…they were excited to be a part of something.
What inspires you to give back to the community?
Simple: helping others is a beautiful thing, especially kids who are born into scenarios that are far from ideal.  Life is hard, and giving back to the community is like saying, “Hey, i see you, i empathize with you, and i want to help you out.”
Would you recommend Team KCA to the community?
I absolutely would recommend KCA to anyone who wants to help others and be a part of something.  Everyone at KCA that I’ve met and worked with have been wonderful.  It’s made up of like minded people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  My time with them thus far has been fantastic and incredibly rewarding.  I have no reason to believe that the future won’t be the same and more.
Michael’s journey with Team KCA perfectly embodies the spirit of running for a cause. It’s not just about personal achievement, but about the collective impact that can be made. Inspired by Michael’s story? Lace up your shoes, consider joining Team KCA, and get ready to experience the kind of victories that transcend the finish line.

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