13 grand for 13 miles: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra executive director raising money through running (with video) | SteamboatToday.com
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13 grand for 13 miles: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra executive director raising money through running (with video)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When the Steamboat Springs Marathon was canceled, Jennifer Lee Robinson didn’t stop her training. The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra’s executive director still plans on running a half-marathon on June 7 but has decided to turn it into a fundraiser for the musicians contracted by the orchestra. 

The goal is to raise $1,000 for each mile or $13,000 total. If the goal is reached by June 7, a donor has offered to match the $13,000, doubling the fundraising effort. Every dollar, aside from credit card transaction fees, will go directly to the musicians, many of whom are local.

“What we’re trying to do is reflect and shape the community with orchestral music,” said Ernest Richardson, the orchestra’s music director. “In this particular case, the run reflects the nature of Steamboat. … It also reflects Jennifer’s love of the organization and her commitment to the organization and the community. It’s all such a good story — a sort of joyful, bright light in a time we’re looking for light.”

Considering how generous the community of Steamboat has already been through the pandemic, Robinson is confident she can reach the goal through small-dollar donations that people can make on a Kindful website.

Barabara Winternitz, president of the orchestra’s board of directors, is taking things a step further, with a challenge to other local performing arts groups.

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“If they choose to run a 13 for 13 campaign, I will contribute, personally, 100 bucks to each of them that starts the campaign and 100 bucks to every single one of them that manages to reach their $13,000 fundraising goal,” she said.

Her only condition is that the executive director of each group participate, whether it’s individually or in a team effort.

Steamboat has already made it clear that it’s a philanthropic community, especially in this time of need, which only makes Winternitz and Robinson more confident that through small donations and the matching gift, they can raise $26,000 for their performers.

“The fact that the (Yampa Valley Community Foundation) managed to raise as much as it did, as quickly as it did, for the COVID relief fund speaks to the heart and soul of the community,” Winternitz said. “I believe that this effort will also speak to the heart and soul of our community.”

Paying the musicians now will help the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra focus on other financial burdens that will come up when they are able to open again, such as extra cleaning services. Payment in advance also serves as as sign of support and optimism that there will be concerts in the future.

Richardson, who is also the resident conductor for the Omaha Symphony, said this effort by the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra to support its musicians is the first he’s heard of.

“I’m excited that we’re at least on the forefront, if not the only people that are trying to figure out a way that we can compensate our players,” he said.

The 2020 half-marathon would have been Robinson’s first. She signed up late last summer after a disappointing physical.

“My doctor told me my cholesterol was borderline high, and I either needed to move more or go on statins,” Robinson said. “I was just horrified and thought, well, I need to make a more concerted effort to move more. … I thought, this is an opportunity for me to get healthier and get stronger.”

So, she signed up for Steamboat’s half-marathon. In February, she started her hard training. By the time the event was canceled, she was in a training groove and didn’t want to stop.

Getting in shape hasn’t been particularly easy, since she lives on top of a hill at the base of the mountain. No matter which way she runs, she always has to conclude with a battle uphill, which she said has been a huge mental challenge. 

She was thinking of running a few loops around her neighborhood for her unofficial half-marathon but is considering a flatter route south of town. She’ll decide as it gets closer. 

Robinson hopes music has provided people the same comfort it has for her during the time of self isolation. All around the world, it has brought neighbors a sense of community, and most importantly, joy. 

“One of the things that has really inspired me as we’ve been in this time of quarantine has been the prevalence of spontaneous music on social media,” Robinson said. “You see neighborhoods in Italy opening up their balconies and singing together. … We’re farther spread apart, but even here in Steamboat, there are singalong groups … There’s still this connection that you’re making through music, because it’s something that’s so necessary to our humanity. It keeps us going.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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