Dairy-sponsored run/walk aids kids

By Michael Kuehl
Similar to America’s dairy industry, the nation’s running community finds itself in difficult circumstances.
While the competitive running sector doubled in demand and participation between 2005 and 2013, it more recently has struggled to maintain its customer base. While 19 million Americans participated in running events in 2013, the number fell just below 17 million just a few years later.
With these statistics, one probably wonders why, in 2017, would Dairy Cares of Wisconsin – a non-profit that benefits Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin – want to organize a Fun Run/Walk? The answer is simple — opportunity. We had an important story to tell and a critical cause to support, and whether we reached 250 people or 500, we knew we wanted to go beyond the dairy industry and reach out to the wider community.

It’s one thing to have big ideas. It’s quite another to actually deliver on them. We didn’t want to overcommit and underdeliver.
On July 8, 2017, we held our inaugural Kickin’ It with the Cows Run/Walk benefiting Children’s Hospital. With nearly 1,400 participants, more than 100 volunteers and 50-plus supporting organizations, the event was a tremendous success. It even received national recognition, having been selected as Runner’s World Magazine’s 5K Event of the Day. Lastly, and most importantly, the event raised more than $15,000 for Children’s Hospital.
This year, Kickin’ It with the Cows will be held July 7 at Voyageur Park in De Pere. The 5K and 10K start at 7:30 a.m.
In addition to the run on July 7, we are hosting the 2018 June Dairy Month Virtual Run. This allows people who cannot attend the race to run or walk on their own to raise funds for Children’s Hospital.
Both of the runs grew out of an annual garden party, which started eight years ago. This year’s party will be held July 28.
Since Dairy Cares was started in 2011 by a group of dairy farmers, generous donors and sponsors have raised $847,000. Garden Party organizers hope to hit the $1 million mark with funds raised for Children’s Hospital.
Getting back to Kickin’ It with the Cows,  after our initial success last year, we immediately thought: “How do you top that?”
I certainly accept the wisdom of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, I also appreciate the power of new possibilities — possibilities to refocus, review and rethink what worked and find ways to make the event even more successful. To help us do this, we focused on feedback from our volunteers, participants and partners to improve where we could. In the end, we were able to cut two of our three largest expenditures by 50 percent, build/maintain relationships and identify new ones that will grow the event moving forward.
Dairy Cares, in partnership with Children’s Hospital, provides an extensive partnership opportunity to help the industry and businesses of all kind engage their employees and customers, connect with their communities and maximize the impact of their brand.
If you or your organization is interested in attending or supporting any of our three events in 2018 — the 2018 June Dairy Month Virtual Run,  the 2nd Annual Kickin’ It with the Cows Run/Walk or the 8th Annual Garden Party — please visit our site.
Michael Kuehl is director of Kickin’ It with the Cows Run/Walk. Please contact him via email event.chairman@dairycares.org.