Why CreateAthon?

  • Written by Peyton Rowe

Every once in a while, I forget why I love CreateAthon so much. I get caught up in the little difficulties of each day such as the long carpool line, that plate I dropped on the floor or the blown light bulb in the living room. Maybe I’m off my game. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe the stars are misaligned. Who knows? But today was one of those days. And my disgruntled attitude about things seeped into my thoughts about CreateAthon.

So what? It’s just one day. How can that help?

Why does it matter if I stay up all night once or twice a year?

I’m just one person with a lot of energy and some creative vibe.

How is that going to change the world?

As I entered my first class, one of my students walked over and handed me her CreateAthon Team Leader application. If selected, she will be one of 10 or 12 students who will lead over 60 students here at Virginia Commonwealth University to serve 10 to 12 Richmond-area nonprofits. She grinned happily as she handed over her work.

After class, I checked my email. My friends at Discovery Communications who are holding their second Creating Change marathon event, inspired by CreateAthon, sent me a great invitation.

“Jen and I wanted to extend an invitation to you in case you’d like to come to the event again, we loved having your enthusiasm and energy last year and you’d be a welcome addition to the event if you’re free and interested in attending.”

About an hour later, Elena, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Design Student sent an email with the subject “UTC createathon spring 2011.” The first sentence of the email said: “Thank you once again for being a part of our Createathon this past spring semester at UTC.”

And this was attached:

Another hour passed and in came the notes from last week’s CreateAthon summit meeting including redpepper’s Taste of CreateAthon addition to their 24-hour marathon – a new fundraising feast to raise money for the Land of Cause Fund, a brilliant idea that extends the possibility of CreateAthon.

By mid-afternoon, two more students had asked me about getting involved with CreateAthon at VCU in the Spring.

Despite all the CreateAthon sentiments coming my way, I still wasn’t getting the message. I popped on Facebook and felt compelled to chat with Andrea, a CreateAthon vet, talented wordslinger and outstanding cheerleader for all things to make the world better, particularly CreateAthon.

She listened to – or rather, read – my unsettled thoughts as they flowed through the chat box and we exchanged thoughts about CreateAthon, what it could be, where it is, what I think about it. I was glad to vent a bit. But it wasn’t until she typed one sentence that I remembered why CreateAthon is so powerful.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to see this succeed.”

CreateAthon is not about me. It’s never about me. It’s about us. It’s about we. It’s about a whole bunch of us’s and we’s. It’s about putting all those us’s and we’s together across one big network, to roll that power and connection into our communities, making them better.

At that point, I looked back over the course of my day and saw the we of CreateAthon. I remembered that I am one part of a much larger we. I am part of a blooming network that has been strengthening for 14 years. This year alone, amazing groups of people have held their own CreateAthon events in 15 U.S. states and in Canada. In November, over 200 Discovery Communications employees will come together to serve nonprofits with their incredible talents. Next March, I will have the privilege of working with over 75 people in Richmond, gathered together for 24 plus hours to harness our collective energy to make our community better than the way we found it.

It’s not about me. It’s about me being a part of we.

Even when CreateAthon plays a tiny role in my day, through emails, invitations, applications, and discussions, it’s still powerful. It’s still about we. And the power of we is what will make things better than the way we found them.

We is why CreateAthon.