5Ks of Philanthropy

I started this post yesterday with the working title of “Family and 5Ks on Friday, Oh My!” in appreciation of a humid 3.1 mile run with biggest, littlest and husband (middlest was at recital rehearsal) in the Bluffton neighborhood of Muskegon. The run was marked by successes (biggest achieved his PR by nearly 4 minutes), disappointments (husband missed his PR attempt by a matter of seconds) and teamwork (littlest accompanied me in the stroller). The course was ideal – an out and back starting in a lush green park, traversing the boardwalk along the Lake Michigan shoreline and over gentle hills through the community. The event organization second to none, and this was the focus of my post-race thoughts.


As I am realizing with writing, however, initial intent often serves as a mere jumping off point for ultimate content and, made possible by a serendipitous pause for sleep, my race report led to deeper contemplation of all that Friday5k represents.

Since 2012, there has been no race series on my schedule more creative and inviting than Friday5k. I look forward to these events more than any other for their simplicity, community and originality. This brainchild of a former Muskegon native, now living on the east side of the state, was created to spread the joy of road racing to the masses. Eliminating cost and eschewing intimidation, he removed two of the major hurdles that keep runners from start lines and created opportunity for many to complete their first 5k. With amazing ingenuity of course location, design and bonus challenges, he kept the attention of veteran runners. By providing age-graded results, victory was had not only by those first across the line, but the fastest relative to others in their category. Combine all of this with date selection based on prime-number Fridays and it seemed I had found a numerology kindred in the race director. But it is much more than the unique manner in which the groups have been led through 5000 meters, in dynamic celebration of 25 TGIFs over the past three years, that makes Friday5k so special. Through generosity of time and experience, the 5k became a medium for benevolence and personal passion converted to fuel for the greater good.   (Check it out here: https://sites.google.com/site/fnfm5k/)


What a fantastic, practical demonstration exemplifying the opportunity we all have to contribute. From this the phrase “5Ks of Philanthropy” stuck with me and brought with it a word challenge – a “perplexicon” if you will 😉

Though initially skeptical of the possibility for completion given the paucity of “k” words (as evidenced by a scrabble value of 5…and that includes using it within a word not just at the beginning!), I was encouraged upon remembering that K holds the distinguished 11th place in the alphabet and persevered.

From this, I present the 5Ks of philanthropy:

Kindness and Knowledge Knitted into Kinetic Keepsakes

Simple words intended to encourage us all that philanthropy does not require a massive stage or millions of dollars. An idea fueled by passion can be all it takes to make a difference. Hopefully as you consider these in part and as a collective, you are encouraged to contemplate a project!


Philanthropy is synonymous with goodwill – the desire to leave the world better than it was found.


Philanthropy has value beyond monetary donation – there is much to be gained from expounding expertise, imparting insight and sharing skill.


Philanthropy embodies cooperation – whether it is through coalescence of one person’s ideas and energy or the collegial effort of many, the synergistic effect is quite powerful.


Philanthropy is dynamic – ever changing to meet the fluctuating needs of the community and couples the energy of giver with the enthusiasm of recipient.

Side note: as I looked into “k” words, use of “kinetic” linked directly to Buster Keaton, a Vaudeville comedian known as “The Kinetic Man” who coincidentally spent his childhood summers in Bluffton (the neighborhood where our 5k took place). Kooky koincidence!?!?



Philanthropy leaves a lasting imprint – in the communities and lives of those who benefit as well as on the contributors who effect meaningful change.

And so, I extend the challenge to myself and all of you – let’s start knitting kindness and knowledge into kinetic keepsakes! Just as Friday5k has paired his passion and experience in racing with talent for organization to expand opportunity for physical activity to the citizens of Muskegon (consistently rated lowest in the state in multiple health markers), creating new enthusiasm for running among a diverse populous, we too can partake in our own practical philanthropy.

Big or small, local or global, simple or complex – consider a need and how you might defray it through utilization of your natural skills in a way that rejuvenates you and effects lasting change.



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