There is little doubt in looking at my waistline or the condition of my knees that I will be running a marathon any time soon, so I suppose the recent announcement about the new sponsor for the Country Music Marathon shouldn’t be high on my agenda. However I found myself confused in reading the announcement, heralded by the mayor, for I couldn’t understand how the charitable proceeds from an event in Nashville were being directed to a children’s hospital in Memphis when we have our own children’s hospital here at home which needs help, and our own city run hospital which often stands at the edge of financial chaos. Shouldn’t it be possible that the proceeds of the event benefit needs here in the community rather than St. Jude’s, which has been well endowed and a darling of the marketing and entertainment community ever since Danny Thomas took it on as a personal project.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against St. Jude’s, and honor them for the work and research done there. I just think that if they want to get the proceeds from a large marathon event like the CMM, they should sponsor a race in Memphis. Call me crazy, but it’s our infrastructure, our police, and our lived inconvenienced by this great event, and as such, I would like to see charity proceeds stay within our own community.
I have come to learn this morning that in fact there are few local connections to this event anymore outside of the location. Back in the day, the event was created to support the work of our local Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Somewhere along the way a private company, The Competitor Group out of San Diego, obtained all the rights (and the risk as well) for the event, and that Nashville is nothing but a tour stop in their series of races throughout the country. Obtaining a nationally known charity like St. Jude’s makes sense in terms of drawing nationally to the event, which increase profits, but it means that local charities that could really use the assistance miss out. Yes, the city DOES get tourist income, but the tax revenues pretty much all go toward paying for the convention center rather than being applied to the general budget – a budget which has been getting cut for the past five or so years, usually at the expense of social services.
I’m confused for there is little transparency to the agreement between the city and Competitor Group regarding the allowance of city resources to support this event, such as any extra fees but as important to me, a requirement that a certain percentage of charity dollars stay within Davidson County. It may be that happens, but you certainly can’t find that via the Internet, and by all indications St. Jude’s comes off as the big winner at the expense of local charities.
And St. Jude’s does, in fact, profit from a major marathon in Memphis: http://www.stjudemarathon.org/