COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seeking to underscore the giving spirit of credit unions while also demonstrating public service and advocacy, a group of Ohio credit unions is planning an unusual 19-day, across the state walk-a-thon benefiting Children's Miracle Network.
The "Miracle March", with CEOs and other staffers doing the walking, is scheduled to start April 1 at a children's hospital in Dublin, a Columbus suburb, and end 180 miles away in Cincinnati on April 19.
"Our plan is to stop at credit unions along the route with 18 separate low-profile or high-profile events to let the public know what credit unions really do," explained the "Miracle March" organizer, Bill Butler, president/CEO of the $27 million Ohio Healthcare Federal Credit Union of Dublin.
Both CUNA and the Ohio League of Credit Unions have heaped praise on Butler for "his ingenuity and boundless energy" in nearly single-handedly soliciting support from sponsors and rounding up Ohio CU leaders to participate in the relay-type walk.
Over the course of the 19 days, Butler said he hopes to have 200 walkers participating and has set a goal of raising $75,000 for CMN in the state.
"I know it's April 1 and there could be sunshine and flowers but we'll still have boots and ponchos available with a lead car," said Butler who confessed, "It's hard enough trying to run a credit union" while attending to all the details of organizing a march.
Butler said he has been getting support from the national CMN organization in Salt Lake City, CUNA, as well as chapters in the Ohio League that have already committed to providing walkers and donations for "Marching Miles for Miracle Kids".
The Web site, www.marchingmiles.com, for runner sign-ups and sponsorships has debuted and so far Butler said 54 CEOs signed on as walkers. They will begin the march at the Children's Close-to-Home Healthcare hospital in Dublin and end first at a Cincinnati children's hospital with a final leg of the march to the Duke Synergy Convention Center.
That convention hall is the site of the Ohio League's annual April 19-20 meeting. The "Miracle March" will be featured on the program along with remarks by state CMN leaders and Ohio youngsters helped by CMN programs, said Butler.
The Ohio "Miracle March" begins on the same day as the CUNA-supported Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run that is held in Washington, D.C. with an estimated 10,000 runners and a $1 million fundraising goal for CMN. Juri Valdov, CUNA's chairman and head of the Cherry Blossom Run, lauded Butler for creating an inspired "great idea in duplicating on the state level what we do nationally" adding "I hope their idea can spread to other states." He said he understands the Texas League has been running for two years a successful "Texas Twister" run for CMN and "excuse the expression, this is a new spin."
Butler, who said he got the notion to start such a march last spring after witnessing poor CU representation at a high-profile CMN event, began serious work on the project last November.
"His kind of passion got our attention," declared Paul Mercer, president/CEO of the Ohio League, which has endorsed the march venture and will provide help for the media events.
Butler said he expects marchers to cover 30-40 miles a day with the route hitting six cities and 15 CU stops during the 19 days. In addition to the initial stops at the Dublin hospital and Western CU in Plains City near Columbus other cities to be visited include Urbana, Springfield, Xenia, Dayton and finally Cincinnati.
"On Monday or Tuesday, April 8 or 9, when we get to Dayton, I have heard that Wright Patt, our largest credit union in Ohio, may be doing a high-profile event involving the Dayton Children's Medical Center," said Butler. The promotion may include a radio remote involving a popular country station, he said.
Apart from the league management and support from its chapters, Butler said he was also indebted to Stan Hollen, the CEO of CO-OP Financial Services Corp., Ontario, Calif. for its backing and to CUNA Mutual, both of which have agreed to take out sponsorships --firstname.lastname@example.org