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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Expect Miracles Goes the Social Distance

Reported by Andrew Lusk

"It was awesome. That's my short story version of it, at least."

Samantha Watson
The Samfund / Expect Miracles Foundation
Founder / Managing Director of Stewardship
That's what Sam Watson, a two-time cancer survivor and founder of the Samfund, (part of the Expect Miracles Foundation), tells MFWire about the Boston, Massachusetts-based cancer charity's second annual (Social) Distance Challenge, which took place from May 17 to 23.

Watson adds that Expect Miracles and the Samfund team "just had the East Coast Classic [two weeks ago], and our next event is the Atlantic Coast Classic on Sept 21, in Bedminster, New Jersey."

The Samfund was founded in 2003 by Watson following her own battles with cancer and its associated costs. Watson currently serves as managing director of stewardship for the fund, and calls her work "paying it forward" with regards to the help she received during her own times of hardship.

"Last year when we did this," she says, "we had about four hundred people, and we raised just under $300,000. This year we set our sights on a high participation goal of 1,300 ... and the total number was 1,320 people! It was one of those things that picked up momentum every single week, as more and more companies came aboard."

Watson notes that some larger entrants this year included PIMCO, BlackRock, and John Hancock. The 2021 (Social) Distance Challenge netted close to $600,000, which will benefit Expect Miracles' research initiatives, as well as provide support via the Samfund to cancer survivors facing financial hardship.

Watson adds, "We put this out as a physical challenge in which you could walk, run, or bike, and in the end, we learned that this was really about choosing the activity that's meaningful to you and setting a goal, then working as hard as you can to reach it."

"For some people, that's 26.2 miles in a marathon, but for others it's getting out every day and walking for half an hour. With this, people get the chance to make it meaningful to themselves, and then get their friends, family, and colleagues involved."

She says the pandemic has changed the landscape of charitable fundraising, noting, "I can't tell if we're still in it, or if we're finally coming out of it; either way, though, we have to rethink a lot of things, because some things have fundamentally changed forever."  

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