This Black Friday, November 24, is a day synonymous with waking up early to hit the stores for doorbuster deals. However, Eric Rubinson, a Cranford resident and avid marathon runner, is asking everyone to think about hitting the pavement in addition to the stores. He doesn’t care if you run, walk, or hop – just get outside that Friday morning and donate to whatever cause you feel is important! What Eric began in 2012 is a movement that is sweeping the nation…Track Friday!
Run or walk any distance, anywhere. Meet up with friends and family. Donate or raise money for any charity. Make a difference.
For Eric, the concept of Track Friday started after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Originally from Middletown, NJ, Eric realized that his hometown needed help and he was unable to physically get to them. He did what only he knew best – run for help…literally! He vowed to donate $5000 to Middletown’s local food bank and encouraged other friends and family members to run/walk with him on Black Friday to support this cause. That year, they ended up having crowds at six different tracks and collected over $22,000 in three weeks!
So why Black Friday? It was the first holiday weekend after Hurricane Sandy and Eric knew that his supporters would be home to help him with this inaugural event. After so much devastation had occurred in New Jersey, he thought that Black Friday, a day when people head out for the sole purpose of spending money, needed to be the target. Why not change the focus of this date to a community day where helping people and getting healthy is the purpose!
The energy and momentum kept going throughout the year. By the next fall, a typhoon had devastated the Philippines and this was the concentration project for Track Friday 2013. Each year, Eric and his friends found more and more organizations and areas that needed help. In 2014, Track Friday was established as a non-profit organization and is now recognized at the national level! Last year, Track Friday raised over $50,000 in approximately seven states!
Eric’s goal is to make Track Friday a National Day and his 2017 intent is to have “one team in every state”. He currently has 25-30 individuals throughout the United States working toward this dream. Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia…let’s keep it going!
Do you know someone who would love to set up their own team? Have them contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, what exactly is Track Friday and how can you get involved? The website for the organization, trackfriday.org, is extremely user-friendly! Everything you need to know for participating and donating is right there!
The idea of track Friday is very simple. You don’t have to be an athlete or even in good shape! You can pick anywhere you’d like to walk or run – your local track, trail, or school parking lot. The possibilities are endless! This is a non-competitive event – there are no clocks! You can commit to 5 minutes or 5 hours. A participant can be a baby in a stroller, a toddler, a dog, or even a great-grandma. The point is that you can be anyone! One of Eric’s favorite stories from this event is a friend who took her two nursing home patients to a local track for a “walker” race! (see the awesome picture)
Get Moving ( trackfriday.org/participate)
Find or start a local meetup – or participate virtually! Simply click “Get Moving” and search for a team in your area or far away! You can join anyone, anywhere – your local town, an organization, or somewhere you’d always like to visit!
Guidelines for Track Friday Meetups
Track Friday meetups should be free of pressure or expectations. To keep meetups fairly consistent and aligned with the goals of Track Friday, they request that all meetup coordinators follow a few simple guiding principles:
- The meetup must be free and open to the public.
- No registration fees; only suggested donations to charity may be requested.
- Participants may support any charity they wish.
- No distance or pace requirements; participants may run or walk any distance, at any pace.
- Supporting 501(c)(3) charities is encouraged. We do not endorse the use of our brand for political or unverified private causes.
- The event must take place with permission from the venue. The local Meetup Coordinator should obtain permission from the venue to host a Track Friday event and must adhere to any and all requirements of the venue
- The event must be Zero-Footprint – leave the venue as you found it, if not cleaner!
The reason this is a separate link is because donating is discretionary, non-obligatory, and completely your choice! Where you decide to “give your miles” and where you “give your dollars” is completely separate! For example, you may want to participate at a track in Cranford, but choose to donate to a cause/charity in a completely separate town. You can even register your own charity on the website! The possibilities are endless and completely unique for each registrant.
T-Shirt Fundraiser and Donating (fundraising/trackfriday)
It’s okay that you may not be around on Black Friday, November 24th…or that you really want to go shopping!! If you like the idea of Track Friday and want to support this organization, you can purchase a Sport-Tek Long Sleeve Logo Shirt or simply donate to the cause!
Spread the Word (trackfriday.org/connect)
This is now a national organization and the goal is “One in Every State” – so please help Eric and his team and share the news about Track Friday to everyone you know! They need your help to get the fire lit throughout all communities! Coaches, teams, charities, businesses – let’s help them “Turn Black Friday into Track Friday”!
Be sure to post all of your pictures strutting your stuff at the track and make sure you use hashtag #TrackFriday
In addition to Eric Rubinson – Arthur Hearns (Cranford Jaycees) and Patrick Giblin (Deputy Mayor of the Cranford Township Committee) have been huge motivators to push the Track Friday movement in the Cranford area. Here are just a few of the local organizations that are contributing to this national campaign…
Cranford Jaycees will head up two separate fundraisers for Track Friday 2017 – “Musical Instruments for Cranford Middle Schools” and “Hurricane Relief Fund” for all areas affected by recent hurricanes. Visit their homepage here CranfordJaycees2017 to donate or join their team!
The Newcomers Club of Cranford is running/walking for “Friends or Puerto Rico” – you can join their team or donate here Team Cranford Newcomers
Track 5 Coffee for Track Friday! Thanks to Kevin, the fabulous owner of Track 5 Coffee, for coming up with a signature “Track Friday” coffee blend for this event. During the month of November, you can purchase a bag of this unique coffee or order one freshly brewed at the store! Proceeds from the sales will go directly to Kevin’s favorite charity – New York City Relief and their Relief Bus!
As you can see – the purpose of Track Friday is very easy and super fun! Before you head out to the stores on November 24 – consider carving out a small portion of your day and doing something healthy and helpful. It’s so easy to walk around the track once and donate to your favorite cause. Do something to make you feel good about yourself AND burn off a little Thanksgiving calories!
Eric Rubinson continues to ask everyone in the communities to redirect their money and attention to the community base and national fund-raising efforts:
“I want to make a network of people to take this idea and run with it in every state. My philosophy is that there should be a thousand of these across the county! They are easy to do and cost literally nothing to start. If we can get 5 in New Jersey – think how many can get started in California! Get out and do something that day!”
Your heart and your body will thank you!