From demons to gods, muses to nightmares, sharks have dominated our imaginations for as long as they've shared the planet with us. So how is it that sharks haven’t landed an equally prominent role in conservation and sustainability efforts?
As top predators in the marine energy web, each shark dictates the health of a substantial slice of ocean. The same way that one shark is important for the health of millions of other animals; each one of us is capable of making a splash that affects thousands of people around us. That is what I had in mind when I facilitated a partnership between Project AWARE and New York Road Runners, the organization behind the world famous ING New York City Marathon. With more than 45,000 participants and a million spectators each year, the race provides an ideal opportunity to spread the word.
In reaching out to my community for support, I realized that a lot of people really have no idea about the atrocities going on in the ocean. Regardless of whether they end up donating or not, I find myself so grateful when people are just willing to learn about the situation and commiserate on the tragedy of it.
Acceptance into the New York Marathon is extremely difficult to come by – only nine percent of lottery applicants are granted a racing bib. So when Project AWARE was granted five spots to fill, they were inundated with emails from runners and marine enthusiasts who wanted a chance to merge their passions. After conducting a mini-lottery, the Project AWARE team was joined by Jacki Cassady of Kentucky, Prianto Moeljadi of New York, Richard VanDieren of Perth, Australia and Sarah Drake of Wyoming. A sixth member, Anthony Corsen of Honduras, was welcomed onto the team after winning acceptance through the NYRR lottery. Now that’s dedication!
Each member of the inaugural Project AWARE ING New York City Marathon Team committed to raise $2,500 for Project AWARE while they train and educate their friends, families and communities about the need for action. The team's efforts will culminate on November 4th, when they spread “AWAREness” through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and back down to Central Park, for 26.2 shark-loving miles.
Many of the ocean advocates who weren’t selected for the New York marathon team have elected to run other races in the name of Project AWARE. Information on supporting marine conservation through any one of their efforts, or on starting a fundraiser of your own, can be found by visiting www.RunForSharks.org. Don’t forget to pick up a t-shirt or hoodie while you’re there and let your awesome new apparel start the dialogue about the cause for you. Proceeds all go to – you guessed it – Project AWARE to support their shark protection campaign.
Note: For latest updates on superstorm Sandy and the status of the NYC Marathon please visit www.ingnycmarathon.org. Project AWARE's thoughts are on the safety of all our friends, family, colleagues and supporters in the NYC area.