Joining in the national concern over health and wellness, Howard Community College (HCC) has partnered with Columbia Association (CA) to introduce a new event that focuses on team building and corporate wellness. The HCC Challenge Race, targeted at both small and large business organizations in the community, will have participants running, climbing and crawling through the campus on Challenge Day, Sunday, Oct. 12, as they raise funds for student scholarships at HCC.
Leading up to the challenge, HCC will engage participants in training and weekly runs. The Business Monthly met with Anne Johnson, director of resource development at HCC, to get more information on the challenge and its health-oriented focus.
What inspired this new type of event at HCC?
HCC has grown significantly over the past 10 years, and last year we opened the Health Sciences Building. A natural extension was to develop an event focused on exercise, nutrition and team building for the local business community. The Challenge Race gives us an opportunity to showcase our campus by having participants run, climb and crawl through the entire campus. This event also gives us an opportunity to attract companies who see the importance of health and wellness programs and those who already support and are engaged in a program of their own.
The HCC Challenge Race focuses on team building and corporate wellness. Tell us about how the event works toward that end.
With a focus on corporate wellness and team building, the HCC Challenge Race targets both small and large organizations in the community. A team-based event, our goal is to have 20 companies and an additional 10 or more individual teams competing in the Challenge Race for our inaugural year. Challenge Race sponsorships are $1,500 to $5,000. During the lead-up to the race (Aug. 14–Oct. 12), we will hold two runs each week for eight weeks [that] will be open to all employees of sponsoring organizations.
This is a different type of event in that, although it culminates in a one-day challenge, it involves long-term programming and training. Can you speak to that process?
I can talk about one of our company sponsors who will hold a kickoff event to introduce this event to their employees. The hope is to get fellow employees to walk and run together and participate in the weekly training runs leading up to the event. They know that exercise is a lot more fun when done with a group, especially if you are just getting started with exercise. In addition, a little peer pressure is always a good thing.
Because the Challenge Race is several weeks out, people will have time to start an exercise program and train up to the distance. Unlike starting an exercise program alone, people will have the support they need to stick with it through the event.
Another exciting wellness benefit associated with the Challenge Race will be the Columbia Association membership for the participants. Since people may hesitate about signing up for health clubs because of initiation fees and the fear that they will not stick with it; this will be a great opportunity for them to see all the benefits of a club membership. The participating companies hope that, once people start an exercise program, they will find it fun and will stick with it.
You already have companies that have committed to participate. Can you share with us some of those companies and what their reaction has been to this new event? Why are they getting on board?
Some of the companies who have already committed are Harkins Builders, Pandora Jewelry, COPT, The Columbia Bank, Allen & Shariff Corporation, Sage Management, Sandy Spring Bank and HealthStream. These companies see this as an opportunity to accomplish three important goals: team building, wellness and giving back to the community.
With this event, companies can inspire and challenge the competitive spirit of their employees to start a personal exercise/wellness program. Most companies’ goal is for this to be a fun day with an emphasis on the effort, not the finish line.
This is oriented toward businesses and organizations for their employees. What if an individual whose employer is not part of the challenge wants to participate?
An individual can get involved by getting a group of four to participate at a Team Level.
You have different team sponsorship levels. What is included in the different levels?
• Number of teams vary based on sponsorship level
• One [10-foot by 10-foot] tent in the “Celebration Village” to gather your team, cheer on all athletes as they race through the tent line starting and ending the race. Opportunity to display your corporate banner and spirit.
• Sponsorship recognition (announcements and signage)
• Logo placement (shirts, towels, course, link on event web page)
• Invitation to attend sponsor appreciation reception
• Named scholarship at Howard Community College ($2,500 plus level sponsorship)
All sponsored team participants receive the following.
• Columbia Association (CA) Package Plan Plus individual membership, from Aug. 15–Oct. 31, 2014. Membership includes access to three fitness clubs; outdoor and indoor pools; specialized classes like boot camp, total conditioning, Zumba, group power, studio cycling, yoga, body pump and more.
• Weekly training runs are open to all employees of sponsor companies. Monday night will depart from COPT parking lot in Columbia Gateway or Road Runner Sports in Elkridge.
• Wednesday, 6 a.m., basic training classes at Columbia Athletic Club are open to all employees of sponsor companies.
• Event shirt and finishing towel
• Raffle prizes from Columbia Association, Pandora Jewelry, Road Runner Sports, Wegmans and 10–20% discount at Road Runner Sports at Fit Nights
What do you hope to see in this inaugural year of the event?
A celebration village filled with participants, employees, families and friends to cheer on the 250 participants as they run, climb and crawl the HCC Challenge Race course. We would love to have spectators to participate in the family fun walk that takes place after the start of the Challenge Race. The challenge course will have students from HCC learning communities encouraging, singing or helping athletes move faster.
In addition to this being a new event, it is also a fundraiser for HCC. Where do the proceeds go that you generate from this event?
More students than ever are struggling financially to afford higher education. The Challenge Race is a fun way to help support these students while being active. Sponsorships benefit student scholarships through the HCC Educational Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. These scholarships will not only make a difference in students’ lives, but provide the opportunity for them to succeed in the classroom, in the workplace and in our community.
If a business, organization or individual wants more information, where can that be obtained?
For more information on sponsorship or making a donation, contact Anne Johnson at 443-518-4227 or visit www.howardcc.edu/hccChallenge.