Running community unites for the future


For The Madera Tribune

Project Run Madera founder Alisha Brown with her husband Phillipe Martin at the Gala. Brown and her foundation raised more than $15,000 to help Madera runners.

 

When Alisha Brown first started Project Run Madera, her goal was to provide Madera’s young runners with some amenities she didn’t have access to.


She started Project Run Madera to provide sports bras for every female cross country runner at Madera and Madera South high schools.


Now, after officially starting her non-profit, Project Run Madera, Brown hosted a gala Sunday to raise money to provide shorts and shirts for approximately 350 athletes.


“It was an amazing night,” Brown said. “I’m still lost for words to say thank you to everyone. There has to be a better term of endearment for it. It was a phenomenal evening. There were so many alumni, coaches. People who ran for Coach DeWitt were there. People who ran in my generation were there. Some of the latest generations who are adults were there. It was really a beautiful night. The energy was so vibrant. It was everything and more that I could have hoped for.”


Brown’s group reserved Vineyard Restaurant on Sunday and sold out all 106 tickets for the event.


“We were completely packed. I didn’t get around to meeting everyone because there were so many people there. Only two people didn’t come. It was incredible,” she said.


On top of working hard to raise money for her organization, which will provide to Madera’s future runners, Brown found out she was 11 weeks pregnant with her third child.


“We found out a month ago,” she said. “We haven’t known for very long. The symptoms kind of made sense. The more rounder my belly got, I figured I was pregnant.”


Brown hoped to raise $20,000 from the event, but she came about $5,000 short. However, she isn’t done trying to reach her goal.


“We’re very close to it,” she said. “We’re hoping we can get a few more businesses to see what we’ve done, see what we raised and see if they can help us get to that finish line.”


Shirt and shorts will cost $35 per athlete and Project Run Madera is hoping to donate shoes (at $80 each) to approximately 100 high school cross country runners.


“The shirts and tops is $12,000 and change,” she said. “The shoes are about $80 a pair. That’s $20,000 total so you can see why that total is very important to us. I do look forward to working with some vendors who can help us out and in what way they can help us if we can’t get to that $20,000.”


Brown was humbled by the amount of people came out to support Project Run Madera’s gala.


“Me and my team have been working so hard to pull this off to get everything done,” she said. “It didn’t hit me it was done. I tried to tell myself to enjoy the night. I was talking about my story. I got emotional because this is my village in here. These people have been to the practices and endured those workouts. Some have been in the same predicament as me with people buying their shoes or buying dinner after a meet. Community was exemplified Sunday night.”


Brown’s event sold out Tuesday and she begged to get another table set up for some overflow.


“We had our seating arrangements done when we sold out at 98 tickets,” she said. “As soon as I said we were sold out, we had people tell me they wanted tickets. I said I would work on an overflow table. I messaged the restaurant owner and asked to seat 106. He said we had 106 exactly. I sold out again that night.


Brown said she is hoping for double the amount of people for her next gala and she is looking for a bigger location.


“If everyone from this year’s gala can bring just one person to next year’s gala, we will double our amount,” she said. “We are shooting for 200-250 tickets. We’re already looking to hold it at a bigger venue. We are already looking at companies to sponsor the entire event for next year so we’re not coming out of pocket. We’re learning from our mistakes and how to go about it in a better so we can take the full profit to the youth. Next year, we will be looking for bigger businesses to sponsor the whole event.


“We want to try to find a caterer to sponsor the entire meal. We want to try to optimize our resources so they are not going on spending on the event and spending on our youths.”