First Time Event
Lisa Pudlo, a Masters student at University of Connecticut, contacted the Memorial Fund in June 2010 to start the Connecticut Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund 5K, which was held on October 17th 2010. Her enthusiasm and determination to make this event successful was apparent from the beginning stages.
What made you decide to start the Connecticut 5K?
My studies in criminal justice have given me the opportunity to work within several law enforcement agencies, and the officers I’ve met and worked with have quickly become my second family. The law enforcement family is characterized by a unique and powerful solidarity. It is one of the few professions where the daily threat of injury or death is accepted as “part of the job”. When an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty, everyone from all departments and agencies come together. We all feel a connection.
I found a great deal of support for the Memorial Fund in Connecticut, and while there are many different Memorial efforts, I felt the need for one large event to pull everyone together. Not only can we raise thousands to support our national Memorial and build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum, but our efforts will help raise awareness, increase respect, and unite our communicty to honor and remember our fallen heroes.
How did you get sponsors?
Finding sponsors was a challenge, especially for a first-time event. Donating the entire 5K registration fee to the Memorial Fund was the key to reaching our fundraising goals, so a successful event was dependent upon our sponsorships. I sent out e-mails and letters to any and all businesses I could think of. Some were local, some were out of state, some were law enforcement related, and some were not. I sent many requests without a response, and after talking with others who have organized non-profit events, I quickly learned that this was pretty typical! It was so important that I had a passion for this cause, because I planned the event for more than a month without any funding lined up. In the end, my persistence paid off because Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar contacted me with interest in the event, and they generously offered to sign on as our presenting sponsor. Weeks later, Cardio Express Fitness Centers and the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police offered their contributions, and because of all three organizations, we were able to run an amazing and successful event.
How far in advance did you start planning the event?
I started planning the event about 4 months in advance. I spent about two months gathering sponsorships, planning the events, developing a needs list, and starting to spread the word. The final two months have been pulling everything together. I continued to work to get the word out, placed all of our orders, worked on fundraising, and adjusted last minute details.
Did you have volunteers for the event day?
My volunteers for race day came from police cadet programs, the Fraternal Order of Police, and several police departments. It was easiest to find volunteers among those interested in the cause.
Approximately how many people did you think attended the event?
We expected about 500 to run the 5K, and up to 1,000 attended.
Do you plan on doing the event again?
Yes, we plan to organize the 5K each year to come. We are currently forming a Board of Directors with representatives from various law enforcement organizations across the state. I hope that, with the help of a diverse and influential Board, the event will continue to grow every year.
Do you have any advice for first-time event planners or tips in general?
If you're planning to organize an event like the Connecticut Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 5K Run, make sure you have a passion for the cause, and surround yourself with people who are supportive and excited about the effort. The process of planning a first-time event can be stressful at times, and it takes a lot of patience, but your passion and excitement will drive you.