Tickled pink by fundraiser, manager of Duluth nonprofit to run 20 milesIf you see a very tall man running through Duluth today — in a pink tutu — you are not having a hypothermic hallucination.
If you see a very tall man running through Duluth today — in a pink tutu — you are not having a hypothermic hallucination.
Jerimy Hallsten will be running to make good on a promise regarding his employer’s fundraising efforts on Give to the Max Day, an online effort to raise money for nonprofits statewide in one day.
He pledged that for every $200 given to Residential Services Inc. he’d run one mile. And fortunately for RSI, a nonprofit that serves adults with disabilities, they raised $4,000, three times the amount raised last year.
For Hallsten, that means a 20-mile run.
“It’s not the best conditions,” he said referring to the recent snowstorm. “But I committed to it so it’s going to happen.”
Hallsten, a program manager at RSI, plans to run a route that will take him past most of the 20 homes where his clients live. It will end with him doing some loops around RSI’s main office at 2900 Piedmont Ave.
“With all the cuts in state aid to our clients, it’s slim pickings for them, as far as having money for personal needs like clothes and medication co-pays,” he said. “I run and just thought I could maybe draw some attention to this. Little did I know it would be 20 miles.”
And although he’s never run a marathon, he says he’s run 20 miles before.
“If you’re a runner, you’re kind of odd as it is,” he said with a laugh. “So the weather and pink tutu don’t really bother me. It’s just another way to spark interest in the issue.”
Sporting an odd look also didn’t bother his mother, Mary Hallsten, an R.N. and health services director at RSI.
“He and I have very much the same sense of humor,” she said.
She already made good on her Give to the Max Day promise, dying her hair “Grinch green” after donations reached a certain point. She also made an Italian dinner for five at her home for another donor.
But the hair got her the most attention. And it wasn’t always a good thing.
“For me it was a real sociological experiment,” she said.
People whispered about her wherever she went. She was laughed at and even called a freak by people in a grocery store.
And while she was able to turn some of the situations into teachable moments, she said it highlighted the situation faced by her disabled clients on a daily basis.
“People I work with have what they have,” she said about their disabilities. “We have a lot more educating to do.”
Her negative experiences aside, she said she’d dye her hair again in a heartbeat.
“We’re having a good time with this and it’s been beneficial and that’s the main thing,” she said.
Michael Lang, RSI recruitment and benefits coordinator, said the Hallstens added flair to the whole event.
“This year, we raised 300 percent more than last year just because of these things people did,” he said. “Jerimy’s just an awesome guy all around … and Mary’s new hair color — it really brings out her eyes, I think.”
To date, more than $19 million has been raised through mngive.org for nonprofits around the state.