Inspiration: NYC Marathon’s ‘Race to Recover’

by PR Coach on November 2, 2012

NYC Marathon post-Hurricane Sandy

NYC Marathon cancelled after public outrage

Editor’s Update: Just moments after publishing my post about the marathon, Mayor Bloomberg reversed the decision and canceled the race.  He cited the need to stay focused on recovery efforts and helping those in need although the event would have raised millions of dollars desperately needed for additional relief. In retrospect, it’s the right decision. I debated removing my post, but thought I would leave it up for now because I still believe in the spirit of recovery and resilience of residents.I hope people will continue donating to the cause. New Yorkers and others on the East Coast need our support regardless of our opinion on holding or canceling the marathon. You can read Mayor Bloomberg’s statement in this NY Times story.

It’s always challenging when news overtakes your blog. Case in point, my original post below. I was inspired by the decision to go ahead with the New York City Marathon. Many, including Mayor Bloomberg, believed there were positive reasons to host the race including millions raised for hurricane relief.

After an intense outpouring of outrage and public criticism, the race was canceled.

It’s important to remember that no matter your opinion on holding the race, the intentions were right. Taking action, trying to get back to life as usual and trying to raise millions of dollars to help in recovery.

The reality, as many pointed out, is that life is not ‘back to usual’ for millions affected by hurricane Sandy. And it will be that way for weeks, months and even longer in many cases.

Because of the scale of the tragedy, it was simply too soon to hold the race before completing critical recovery work. On reflection, an important reality check was delivered despite the best intentions of NYC Marathon organizers. Credit social media for amplifying public opinion on the race.

I hope the public will support other relief efforts and when the race is held in the future it will be in better times.

I live far from New York City. Things can look very different from a distance. I wish we could have been inspired by the race. But we will continue to be inspired by the hard work of residents to rebuild after the hurricane.

I’ll leave my original post in place because it’s a good example that sober second thought sometimes is needed for better decisions.

My original post follows:

What’s the word that best describes New York City to you after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy all along the US coast?

To me, it’s resilience.

On my last visit to New York City on business, I marveled at the hustle, bustle, chutzpah and energy of the city.

Yes, always elbows flying and business first. But frequently moments of shared humanity too. Small things that remind you how much people care no matter where they live.

A door held open for a frail senior citizen. A tourist family looking up at skyscrapers in awe. An extra bit of care from a concierge or clerk. Locals always quick with a quip or a story.

And always a welcome for visitors and newcomers who, if determined, can make their way and be part of the American dream.

New Yorkers are resilient. That’s why I applaud organizers of New York City Marathon for going ahead with the race this weekend. Just days after the impact of hurricane Sandy.

NYC Marathon raises funds for hurricane relief

NYC Marathon raises funds for hurricane relief

They’re calling it the “Race to Recover.” There will be sponsors visible but this year’s marathon won’t be about sponsorships, public relations or marketing. It will raise millions for disaster relief and it will prove a city’s resilience.

Yes, there were mistakes during the tragedy as a few companies stupidly tried to turn crisis into a business opportunity. Other individuals reacted with silly social media stunts.

But everywhere there were moments of care, compassion and bravery by first responders, caregivers and communities. Risking their own safety. Reaching out to help those affected. Offering support to others who lost everything and must now rebuild.

The media told these stories with impact. They played their usual critical role in communicating during the crisis, updating the public and reminding us of our humanity.

Even with another winter storm expected in a few days, New Yorkers are back to life. Doing what they do best.

I hope the marathon is a huge success. Not just for the sponsors who are generously pledging to raise millions for Red Cross and other relief efforts.

This race is for the spirit, for the heart and soul of the place. It’s a message about the future of New York City and other devastated communities on the US Northeast coast.

At some point, before the start of the race, there will be a brief ceremony to remember those devastated by tragedy. And then it will be time to get on with living and the Race to Recover.

Remarkable. Resourceful.  Resilient. That’s New York City! I’ll be cheering and watching the race with admiration.

Author: Jeff Domansky

Photo credit: NYC.gov