George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K hits the streets Oct. 1 — this one fundraiser benefits 60 Rochester causes

More than 850 registered for this “Philanthropy Challenge” presented by MVP Health Care

For Release 2011-09-26

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Using social media to fundraise across generations -- in the spirit of George Eastman’s philanthropic legacy —the George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K presented by MVP Health Care is raising funds for more than 60 non-profit causes. This “philanthropy challenge” is a new way of fundraising and Rochester has embraced it. To date, more than 850 runners and walkers are registered, ranging in age from 4 to 82, with one organization, Wilmot Cancer Center, already raising $200,000 via efforts of its young professionals. The race starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1.

The Photo Finish 5K allows organizations of varying levels to raise money while Eastman House staff and volunteers handle the event organization. It is the 5K-fundraiser version of Eastman’s first advertising slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest.” This type of philanthropy model has been successful in major cities, with this local race modeled after the London Marathon, which has raised millions of dollars for charity. How can several organizations benefit from one event? While Eastman House raises money from registration fees, participants representing various organizations can raise money via pledges to run or walk in the Photo Finish 5K. Individuals or teams can sign up on behalf of a favorite charity (there is no requirement to assemble a team).

“The George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K is a fantastic opportunity for charities, both big and small, to use the event as their fundraiser without the hassles of organizing one themselves,” said Kevin Lucas, president of the USA Track & Field Niagara Association. “The good people at the Eastman House are doing all the logistical work so participants and organizations can focus on raising funds for their charity or cause. Following the example set by George Eastman, the Photo Finish 5K is renewing the American tradition of helping others. The event allows each of us to contribute in big and small ways to the betterment of society.”

The list of dozens of Rochester area organizations benefiting from pledged funds, include the Autism Council, Friends of Ganondagan, Geva Theatre Center, Lollypop Farm, Open Door Mission, Memorial Art Gallery, McQuaid Jesuit High School, Palmyra Community Library, R.I.T. Young Professionals, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester International Council, Wilmot Cancer Center, and Wilson Commencement Park. More than three-quarters of those registered have indicated they are participating to raise money for a cause.

The route will begin and end at Eastman House, and will include the Neighborhood of the Arts and ArtWalk and will pass by numerous Rochester landmarks, many built or supported by Eastman. The Photo Finish 5K embodies both George Eastman’s philanthropic spirit and his ideals of wellness and health. He wanted Rochester to be the healthiest and best city in the world in which to live and work, and gave most of his fortune to Rochester causes, hospitals, and universities.

To facilitate fundraising, the Eastman House has teamed up with Crowdrise, an innovative, online fundraising site, which encourages donations by any denomination. Co-founded by actor and activist Ed Norton, film producer Shauna Robertson, and brothers Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe, Crowdrise’s tagline is, “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”

Charity teams or individuals can access online tools at Interested participants can register online for the Photo Finish 5K (through Thursday morning, Sept. 29) or in person the morning of the race (between 6:30 and 7:45 a.m. at Eastman House). Registrants are able to fundraise, if they desire, until Nov. 1 for a charity of their choosing. Crowdrise founders report the Photo Finish 5K has seen more registrants than any other event using Crowdrise located in a medium-sized city. 

“The Eastman House’s strategic plan calls for a reinterpretation of George Eastman’s legacy for 21st-century audiences,” said Dr. Anthony Bannon, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of George Eastman House. “Eastman would have embraced the technology of Crowdrise and often used his philanthropy to encourage others to give, resulting in the creation of Rochester’s United Way and Red Cross chapters as well as Strong Hospital.”

An additional component to the Photo Finish 5K is a global reach, since participants need not be in Rochester. The race ran be run or walked anywhere, while still raising money for a chosen Rochester-based charity. A member of the Eastman Young Professionals, for instance, is deployed overseas in the Middle East but will be running for Eastman House on Saturday. Several out-of-state runners are making the trek to Rochester to take part in person, including an Eastman House Facebook fan in Texas who saw a post about the Photo Finish 5K, plus the wife of George Eastman’s great-great-nephew who is coming from Chicago to run the race.

Numerous prizes will be offered to participants, for both top fundraisers and those with best finishing times, including $5,000 in cash for charities of choice. Those who raise the most money can win private movie screenings at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House, and for the CEO or board member raising the most money, a donation will be made to his or her non-profit organization. The top fundraiser overall wins a trip to California to take part in the Honda L.A. Marathon in March 2012. There are a number of additional prizes for participants, including a ticket to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra – founded by George Eastman House – for anyone raising at least $50.

You can learn more and register for the event at The volunteer co-chairwomen of the George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K presented by MVP Health Care are Victoria Cherry, representing the Eastman House Board of Trustees and Eastman House Council, and Rachel Pikus, representing the Eastman Young Professionals. Eastman House serves both a regional and international community and has a history of creating strategic partnerships to increase the strength of those efforts. 

“MVP Health Care is exceedingly proud to be the presenting sponsor of the George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K event which will benefit not only Eastman House but also many other worthy community charitable organizations,” said David W. Oliker, MVP’s president and CEO.  “We have recently created a unit devoted to social responsibility within our company’s Corporate Affairs Department.  I can think of no better opportunity than this one to illustrate MVP’s commitment to support the programs that lead to healthier communities and overall community betterment.”

With MVP Health Care as the lead sponsor, additional sponsors of the Photo Finish 5K are HSBC Bank, Midtown Athletic Club, and Wegmans. The 5K begins at 8 a.m., with registration opening at 6 a.m. and a Philanthropy Fair at Eastman House following the race.

Here is what leaders of participating organizations are saying:

“In these challenging times, working together is a must, and that is what makes the Photo Finish 5K a great opportunity for many Rochester non-profits, including Geva Theatre Center, to raise funds for our important missions. It helps boost the profile of many organizations in the community and promotes civic engagement and healthy living, which in the end will make Rochester a more vital and vibrant place to live, work, and play. Geva Theatre Center is excited to participate in this fundraiser designed to perpetuate the legacy of George Eastman’s philanthropic spirit. It is going to be a fun day of philanthropy!” 

                                              — Tom Parris, Executive Director, Geva Theatre Center

“The Photo Finish 5K is a wonderful opportunity for the community to support the George Ea stman House – an important Rochester icon — as well as help non-profit organizations that are important to them. At the Wilmot Cancer Center, we’re thrilled to ‘rally our troops’ to join our team to help in the fight against cancer, and support George Eastman’s legacy.”

                                             — Kimberly Cenzi, Associate Director for Advancement, University of Rochester Medical Center

“Wilson Commencement Park is pleased to participate in the Photo Finish 5k race. Not-for-profits must find new ways to both collaborate and generate revenue to support our various missions. We applaud George Eastman House for having the vision to bring the local community together, while benefitting the organizations — and people — who are in the greatest of need. In addition, a walk/run event provides an opportunity for a fun and fitness-focused event, which can be enjoyed by the staff, clients, Board members and friends of our organization.”

                                            —Rod Cox-Cooper, Chief Executive Officer, Wilson Commencement Park





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