Dashing for a cause

Story by David Heiling, Editor in Chief


As the beat of “Harlem Shake” reverberated throughout much of Carson Park Sunday afternoon, a majority of the 3,000 plus participants of Eau Claire’s first ever Color Dash were dancing around in anticipation for the final celebration of the day’s events.
As the song reached its chorus, a release of brightly colored corn starch rained down on the dashers in a rainbow-filled explosion.
When the owner and Director of Dashes Hamid Torabpour presented the Color Dash idea to Michael Strubel, director of sales and events for Visit Eau Claire in mid-March, Strubel immediately jumped on board.
Strubel said Visit Eau Claire had reached out to other Color Run groups in the midwest, but said those groups declined because the Chippewa Valley is smaller than their usual big-city venues.
It turns out it was more financially sound to have Torabpour’s dash come to Eau Claire anyway. Torabpour said in comparison to other organizations that focus in on bigger cities, he gives back more than the rest.
“The big color runs, they only give five to ten percent back to charity,” Torabpour said. “The one in Madison this summer had 20,000 people. They only gave $22,000 of that to charity. We had (a little less than) 3,200 and we gave $47,000.”
The check presented to the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre totaled $47,466.
Torabpour said their business gives back 50 percent of all revenue from registration costs, and the other 50 percent goes to covering event costs.
Torabpour and Strubel found a cause that needed some financial help — the Children’s Theatre. Strubel said along with some personal investment with the theatre, they also had a great volunteer base who would help run the event.
“We found a charity that could do a lot of groundwork,” Strubel said. “I chose the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre because the volunteer force is so dedicated and had those volunteers who could really pull it off.”
The force wasn’t just exclusive to members and supporters of the theatre. Four senior National Honor Society students from Cadott made up the corn starch-throwing blue team at the beginning of the 5K event.
The dash, which started near the baseball stadium, had five main checkpoints. About every kilometer runners were pelted with a new color to add to their already dyed clothing.
Totally covered in blue from the day’s event, Cadott high-schooler Lexi Siverling said they had a blast volunteering for the dash and the best part of the day was “becoming totally smurfified.”
Dashers Elaine Emberson and Sharon Durbin, UW-Eau Claire roommates and graduates of the class of 1971 said the dash was the best part of their week.
“Seeing everyone coming out here for a great cause, laughing the whole time combined with the beautiful weather was really a
spectacle to see,” Durbin said.
Strubel said event organizers anticipated anywhere from 500 to 1000 people would come to Carson Park. A final tally of 3,142 exceeded his expectations for the event.
“It was great to see that many people getting ready to take off, Strubel said. “It honestly gave me goosebumps with the amount of people that showed up, I bet it helped just a little bit that the event happened to fall on the Packers bye week.”
Eau Claire Children’s Theatre Executive Director Wayne Marek said the money raised through the Color Dash Sunday afternoon will immediately go to the expansion and promotions of the theatre.
“With that money we got, we will be able to expand the number of summer classes we can offer, the number of
productions for the kids as well as expand the number of children who can actually participate in our program,”
Marek said.
The $47,466 was the biggest donation in the program’s history, and wouldn’t have been possible without the overwhelming community support Sunday afternoon, Torabpour said. He’ll continue to support different community events through the Color Dash.onlineNWS_ColorDash008_EJ