Meet our Events Manager, Allison Richards. Since January, Allison has been the driving force behind all of Maine Cancer Foundation's events. Now under one week out from the 15th Annual Tri for a Cure, she's busy as ever putting the finishing touches on MCF's most popular event. We caught up with Allison to get her perspective on organizing the event that she has completed four times before.
Tell us about your role within MCF?
As the Events Manager I am responsible for managing the events that support the organization’s mission with the goal of raising funds and providing engagement and cultivation opportunities for the organization. Currently, our major events are the Sugarloaf Charity Summit, Mary’s Walk and Tri for a Cure.
What did your career path look like before joining Maine Cancer Foundation?
A bit of a bob and weave! Just kidding, but I do like to say I’m a Jane of all trades as I’ve worked in many fields from trail building to marketing. Prior to joining the team at MCF, I worked as a Design Specialist for a Qualitative Marketing Research firm… confused on what that mean, don’t worry most people are!
What motivates you to get up and go to work every morning?
Knowing that each day will be different, and I never know who will cross my path. Even in my short time here at MCF, I’ve been honored to hear the stories of many of our participants. These are the folks in the trenches working hard to raise money for our organization. Without them, MCF wouldn’t be the success it is today. I want to do everything I can to ensure their success – and make sure they have some fun along the way.
What projects are you currently excited about?
I cannot wait to stand at Spring light on July 10th with our hundreds of Tri for a Cure participants, their supporters, and our dedicated sponsors and volunteers. It’s been a long two-years since we’ve all been together and there is no better feeling than Tri morning.
As a past participant and now tasked with organizing the event, what does the Tri for a Cure mean to you?
In a sense, it means the same and so much more! As a participant, I was very caught up in the acts of my personal training and fundraising. It was easy to live in a bubble up until race weekend. I was motivated by my familial connections to cancer and watching my mother’s journey as an oncology nurse practitioner. Now, I have the privilege and honor of talking to women all day long about their stories and the stories of their loved ones. Everyone is here for a reason! One of the most impactful things about TFAC is getting to honor each other and create a space for joy, hope, and compassion. Working for Maine Cancer Foundation, I have a much greater understanding of where the money goes. Learning about our granting process and seeing real, live checks go out the door is a tangible thing – it’s absolutely incredible the work we are able to do as a result of Tri for a Cure. We literally cannot do what we do without our participants doing what THEY do – now I see the full picture. In my role, I hope to share these successes with our participants more. I think it’s unbelievably important women are able to go out into their communities as ambassadors of MCF knowing how the donations make an impact.
Now entering its 15th year, the TRI is closing in on $20M raised all-time. What excites you the most about this year’s event?
$20M is pretty darn exciting! It’s a huge number. It excites me that every single donation, whether it came in as $5 or $500 is a part of that total. My first year doing TFAC I found fundraising very intimidating. The act of asking for money was uncomfortable at first but $500 turned into $750 and then into $1100. And, $1100 is a huge number too.
This year I’m excited we are back live! Race weekend conjures up unique feelings that are hard to describe. Those who have been at opening ceremony or watched women cross the finish line hand-in-hand know what I’m talking about. There are things that stick with you forever. For me, it’s a woman who was holding a sign about being in chemo early that week. She was standing on the run from mini-transition up to main transition smiling, just smiling. It was a gut check moment. I was running so hard to minimize my T1 time and she snapped me out of by bubble and reminded me WHY I was there. Instant tears, instant gratitude for what my body was doing in that moment – I had the privilege of competition.
Walk us through a typical day for you as we get closer to July 10th
I wake up leisurely around 9am followed by some light stretching and an hour of contemplative reflection, stroll into the office around noon. JUST KIDDING! I would say, at this point, there is no typical day! There are so many moving pieces to pull Tri for a Cure together and it requires a lot of people and A LOT of communication. I spend a great portion of my day fielding questions, walking participants through fundraising, and organizing all the sub-events such as clinics, survivor receptions, and meet and greets. I spend more time combing through excel sheets than I ever thought I would but it’s all about making sure each details is correct! Being so close to the event, there are new fun pieces to my day like talking to the media and when USPS shows up with incentives and goodies I ordered months ago.
In one sentence, how would you explain your job to a 5-year-old?
I get to assist generous people do really fun things because they want to help others!
If you could add one thing to the MCF office, what would it be?
A gym with pool and sauna 😉
Best show you watched this year?
I’ve 100% jumped on the Yellowstone bandwagon!
Where did you grow up?
Vermont Girl through and through!
What was your first job?
Throwing pizza’s at Mount High Pizza Pie – Chittenden county, Vermont’s finest pizza joint.
Favorite place in Maine?
There are too many to choose from, but I have a lot of great memories from Lily Bay State park with my son Will. Another would be the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust – it’s right in my backyard and can jump out there for a quick escape or a hard trail run.
Last book you read?
Currently reading: Build Your House Around My Body: A Novel by Violet Kupersmith
Which actor/actress would play you in a movie about yourself?
Jennifer Lawrence – she’s tough and a straight-shooter but also goofy and very quirky – all traits I relate to!
Favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
A toss-up between Singapore and Barcelona.
“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules… We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
What is your most used emoji?
😂 (cry laugh)