Thursday, December 29, 2011

how the grinch stole christmas & $$ money from autism

When Sam Felsenfeld started the Operation Jack Marathon last year, it was to fulfill his goal of running 61 marathons a year to raise awareness and funds to fight autism.

(also, he’s crazy)

((there are 52 weeks in a year, for your reference))

That was last year. This year they brought it back because people loved it. And they’re doing it again next year. And probably the year after that, and after that, and after that. The event, the cause, and the faces behind it have been swallowed up in an outpouring of support from the running community.

Everybody is Team OJ.

Except in Houston, apparently.

If you don't already know, the OJ Marathon raised about $40,000 to fight autism the day after Christmas. It would have raised about $500 more if not for two Grinches residing in the Longhorn State.

On the same day as the race in Southern California, runners across the country participated in Satellite runs that contribute to the cause. From a group of girlfriends running off their Christmas cookie binge with a 10K to a hardcore athlete going out to tackle 26.2, participants completed the run at a location and time of their choice and received a bib, shirt, and medal, for their efforts.

John Strohmeyer offered to coordinate a satellite run in Houston, guessing he’d have about 10 people. With at least five starters and three finishers, it would be an official marathon according to Marathon Maniacs.

So in theory 10 people show up, run 9 laps around a three-mile loop in a park, one guy sits at a table pouring water and Gatorade and money gets raised for charity. Perfect, right? Yeah, so much so that 29 people signed up! Basically, a fun run that counted as an official race and raised more than $1,500 — everybody's happy!

Well, everybody except Michelle Wolpert and Ron Morgan of Houston Area Road Runners Association — Mrs. and Mr. Grinch.

Michelle and Ron caught wind of the charity event and got pissed. If they weren’t allowed to host a big race in the park, well damnit neither can this grassroots foundation raising money for a good cause! 30 people running laps around the park? Absolutely unacceptable. Nuh uh, not fair.

Temper tantrum, party of two.

They went to the park director and got the event shut down. PERFECT! Congratulations, throwing sand in the sandbox and tattling can still get you what you want as adults.

Except shutting down the event wasn’t enough. Shortly after, Ron sent out an email blast to every running club member in Houston planting seeds of doubt about all the good Operation Jack does.

John (OJ Houston) worked with the parks department and eventually did find a new location for the race. Four days before the event. A lot of runners ran at the new location, but a lot of them didn't. The debacle ended up costing the charity about $500 in refunds.

Congrats Grinches, you sure showed 'em. Merry Christmas.

Why am I telling you this? Not only because I’m a supporter of Operation Jack. Or that I really enjoyed the event. Or that I think(thought?) the running community is a loving and supportive group of people that band together to do great things both individually and together, and share a mutual love of RUNNING.

Mostly, I want you to hear the story of how two spoiled Texans with delusional senses of entitlement fought to shut down a charity event that brought funds and awareness to a worthy cause.
And I want to call them out for it. Because it angers me that there are people like that in the world.
(probably the same ones that leave their shopping carts in the parking lot and don’t wave when you let them out in traffic)

Feel free to let them know how you feel about it. Or congratulate them – I’m sure autism research really didn’t need that $500+ anyways… Michelle can be reached at and Ron would love to hear from you at

More importantly, SPREAD THE WORD. Repost, link back, email, Twitter, Facebook. Buy a billboard. Pass out flyers on the bus. Print it out and mail it to 10 people and insist they have to do the same or the chain will be broken and they’ll never meet their true love.

And then ask your cootie catcher if JTT will ever ask you out. (he’s still hot, did you know?)

Whatever you choose to do, thanks for your support. 

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