Chattanooga’s Echelon provides community with a very good reason to run
By: David Ibata
Kyle Briner’s desire to bring a new way of doing good from his native Indiana to Chattanooga, Tennessee, coincided with the formation of a new Salvation Army Echelon unit, giving the group of young adults one of its first fund-raising events, “Run With Reason.”
Like charity races elsewhere, participants line up sponsors who pledge donations – except this run happens around Christmastime, when the weather in the mid-South is transitioning from autumn to awful. The day of the run, Dec. 8, brought 38-degree temperatures and rain to Chattanooga.
“The whole idea behind Run With Reason is, you’re going out in December, it’s cold, you’re doing something hard, and in the back of your mind you know every mile you run is one more gift, one more example of joy you can bring to a family,” Briner said.
Chattanooga Echelon’s first Run with Reason at the Redoubt Soccer Association outdoor track saw nine participants run 82.5 miles total and raise $3,200. “Initially, we thought we might take care of 30 kids, and that was our goal. We exceeded that and raised enough funds for 51 children.”
Briner’s employer, HHM Certified Public Accountants, sponsored the event to benefit the Angel Tree program of the Salvation Army’s Chattanooga Metropolitan Area Command. HHM staff and the Army distributed gifts of clothes, shoes and toys to children on Dec. 17.
When Briner came up with the idea last fall, he reached out to the Army and soon was working with Karen Sherrill, associate director of development in Chattanooga. He also joined the newly formed Echelon board.
“That was just a great opportunity for me to get plugged into that program and ultimately form a partnership where we can serve each other and tackle this Run With Reason together,” Briner said.
Initially, even the organizers were skeptical. No one knew if they could pull off an event like this in December, when most people are fixated on the holidays.
“But everything kind of fell into place,” Briner said. “Even with the harsh weather conditions, we still made it happen. … We said we were going to do it, no matter what. It was very important in the first year to set these stepping stones in place and build a bridge to next year.”
For the 2019 run, Briner said he hopes to reach out to other Chattanooga businesses, bring aboard additional corporate sponsors and have enough runners signed up to create teams “to try to raise as much money as we can to take care of as many kids as we can – for Christmas gifts, food or whatever the need might be.”