That’s how Michelle found NCMEC. She found NCMEC’s law enforcement training on how to handle missing child cases, she found the abduction prevention and personal safety program KidSmartz, she found Team HOPE, a group of people just like her who had experienced the pain of having a missing or exploited family member, but most importantly, she found a way to channel her pain into purpose.
Michelle knew she wanted to fundraise for NCMEC, but was unsure of how to start, “I thought about organizing a 5k race or something, but I thought no, let’s go big, what’s the biggest marathon in the country?” A quick Google search later, and it was clear which race she had to choose: the New York City Marathon.
“It had to be New York. I think when most people think of a big race they think of the Boston Marathon, but that’s really associated with elite athletes and qualifying times. Anyone can run the New York City marathon- all of us are out there at the same time, doing the same thing- everyone from the world record holders to my 70-year-old mother.”
But of course, the New York City Marathon, the biggest and most popular race in the world, with 52,000 finishers in 2018 alone, is not something you can simply sign up for. Most runners must apply to a lottery months in advance and hope that they are selected. To guarantee entry, a runner has a couple more options, many of which require a membership to a running club or having met incredibly rigorous qualifying times.
For most people, the best option for securing a spot in the race is to use a special invitation code from a charity, partner, or other specially invited party. Unfortunately for Michelle, NCMEC was not an official charity partner of the New York City Marathon, and with over 400 official partners already in the books, it would take making the right connections to break into the crowded field.