NJ man turns Black Friday into ‘Track Friday’ movement to help FoodBank
While many people run to retail stores to spend money on Black Friday, a Cranford marathon competitor will spend part of his day running around a high school track to raise money as part of a national movement he calls "Track Friday."
Since 2012, Eric Rubinson has spent the busiest shopping day of the year running more than 105 laps around his old high school track in Middletown in order to raise money for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean County. Since its inception, the Track Friday movement has gained momentum. In fact, more than 200 people now participate in at least 11 different states.
The concept is simple, according to the Track Friday website: "Run or walk any distance, anywhere. Donate or raise any amount for any charity. Spread the word. Make a difference." According to Rubinson, the movement has raised more than $75,000 for more than 80 charities since 2012.
"It's very simple to make an impact on a charity you care about," said Rubinson, who's wife, Nutan also participates along with their young children and numerous other families.
Track Friday was actually born in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when Rubinson and a few friends put together an informal fundraiser to promote awareness for "reputable" charities that were supporting relief and recovery efforts. Rubinson's town of Cranford, located in Union County, was among the hardest hit by the superstorm.
By spreading the word through social media, Rubinson - who has run marathons in all 50 states - agreed to run a full marathon (105 laps) on the Middletown High School North track if his friends could collectively raise $5,000 by Thanksgiving. That gave them a three-week window from the time it was first announced. Before long, others followed suit and agreed to hit the ground running (or walking in many cases) to raise money for charities of their own choosing.
The idea was a success and in only a few weeks, people in four states agreed to join the Track Friday initiative, raising more than $22,000. Track Friday is now a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
"Our mission is to inspire charity, community, and health by empowering people to be personal fundraisers for charitable causes," the organization's website states.
Participants raise funds for their charities by signing up to be part of the team on Razoo, a fundraising website that allows users to quickly register an account, select a charity and promote their fundraiser. The funds go directly to the organizations they select.
And you don't have to be a runner, or even athletic in order to participate, said Rubinson, who recently appeared in the latest issue of Runner's World magazine. In previous years, many participants walked (there's no set distance), some ran, some pushed baby strollers or jogged alongside friends on tracks and through local neighborhoods.
The movement promotes being active, being charitable and embracing the spirit of giving.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.