Becca Sanders is taking a singular route for United Way.
Sanders, director of Court Appointed Special Advocates program, will run the Oct. 6 Portland Marathon for pledges to benefit Hood River County United Way.
“United Way funds CASA, and I knew the kickoff was at about the same time, and I thought this would be a way I could give something back,” Sanders said. United Way kicked off its 2002 campaign, “Give Where You Live,” on Sept. 1, but the campaign hits its stride during October, when agency representatives visit work places asking employees to make payroll deductions for United Way.
“We don’t have a lot of funding sources,” Sanders said of CASA, which provides trained volunteers to represent the interests of abused and neglected children in court.
“United Way has always made a huge difference in the quality of our program in this region,” she said.
Rosie Thomas-Wiley, United Way executive director, said Sanders is taking unusual steps for the organization.
“We always have a number of employees from recipient agencies who make presentations during the campaign, but this is above and beyond. All of what Becca raises will go to United Way and not just to CASA.”
She said it shows that “our agencies are enthusiastic about helping out the campaign.”
Sanders said her run is a good way to partner with other community organizations.
“I’m a fan of all the United Way programs. It’s a real inclusive,” she said. “It takes in all segments of our population, not just at risk kids. It’s very well-focused.
“You can’t go wrong with United Way, and the publicity is also good for CASA,” said Sanders, who formerly worked as counselor and case manager for Klahre House, a Hood River facility serving at-risk youth. Before that, she was regional director for a youth-at-risk program in British Columbia.
Sanders is enjoying her training and is glad she made the commitment to do the marathon for United Way, but she admitted her first marathon, “will probably be my last.” She began training on April 9, her 31st birthday.
“When you get into the long training, it’s really time-consuming,” she said. “You kill your Sundays, and I’m also a student, so it’s a real time-commitment.” Sanders is also working concurrently on her Master’s in Social Work and Doctorate in Social Work at Portland State University.
So she’s making the Oct. 6 run count, with pledges such as a-dollar-a-mile.
She said it was tough at first to do a 20-minute run, but she stuck with it and increased her output by 10 percent a week. Last Sunday she did her third straight 19-mile day.
“I’m good to go for the marathon,” she said.
Her husband, Dan O’Donoghue, a health inspector for Klickitat County, will also run.
“But we won’t run it together: he’s a lot better than I am,” she said.
Support for her run has so far come mainly from friends and associates at CASA and The Next Door, Inc., which administers CASA.
“A lot of people are giving $1 per mile,” she said. But she’s been focused on road training rather than counting pledges.
She’s enjoyed the training and is looking forward to the run.
“It’s been fun. You get far enough into it and you’d be kind of nuts to quit, with all the time and miles you’ve put in.”
Knowing that people will be donating money connected to her sweat and exertion has been a big training motivator for Sanders.
In her training runs, on loops off of West Belmont, she caches water. “You kind of train for one water station to the next,” she said. On Oct. 6, she knows she can hydrate at every mile point.
“They’re good about that in the Portland Marathon,” she said. “It’s known for being set up well for beginners. It’s a nice flat course,” she said.
To help with Sanders’ run, call Rosie Thomas-Wiley, executive director of United Way, at 352-7000. Contributions can also be sent to P.O. Box 2, Hood River, OR 97031.
CASA, a program of The Next Door, Inc., is one of the many programs supported by United Way. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children.
Other local programs currently supported by United Way include: American Red Cross, Columbia Gorge Center, Hospice of the Gorge, New Parent Services, Nuestra Comunidad Sana, Youth and Family Services, Pioneer Potlatch, Senior Services, Sunshine Club, First Book, Boy and Girl Scouts, Crisis Shelter, and Columbia Gorge Community College Adult Literacy Program.