Goal Oriented – Running for a Cause
April 22, 2016
At 6:45 a.m. on a blustery December Sunday, 18 intrepid NM associates are gathered in the lobby of a downtown Dallas hotel. Instead of chic dresses, sharp suits, and designer shoes, they wear shorts, tights, nylon jackets, fleecy headbands, and neon-bright running shoes.
TEAM ALL HEART is about to hit the rain-soaked streets for the 26.2-mile test of will and training known as the 2015 Dallas Marathon. Meanwhile, four time zones and a quarter of the globe away, two associates from NM’s Hawaii store will test their own mettle in the Honolulu Marathon.
While the athletes’ personal goals differ (some are running the half marathon), all are here on behalf of charity. Each team member has set an individual fundraising goal and chosen a favorite nonprofit to receive half of the funds he or she raises. The remainder will go to NM’s All Heart Fund, supporting either domestic and international disaster relief or hardship assistance for fellow NM associates.
In truth, the Dallas and Honolulu marathons are just a small part of the company’s All Heart program. Headed by Kevin Hurst, Director of Charitable Giving, All Heart builds on the Neiman Marcus tradition of philanthropy and volunteerism by encouraging associates to become engaged in the communities where they live and work.
The Dallas team, in training since July, includes both experienced competitors, like team captain (and Neiman Marcus Group CIO) Michael Kingston, and total newcomers, like Last Call Assistant Buyer Veronica Torrey. “I’ll be honest,” she wrote on the Team All Heart fundraising page. “I get a little terrified when I
think about running 26.2 miles (sometimes I break out in a sweat).”
To encourage participation from associates across the country, the All Heart program picks up airfare and expenses. Ultramarathoner Dakura Smith works in Loss Prevention at NM San Francisco. Houston associate Philip Franco is a first-timer running for the Wounded Warrior Project. Esther Ambrogio from Short Hills is running for Diabetes Foundation Inc. in honor of her late brother.
Pledges and progress are tracked on crowdrise.com. By race day, the team total was hovering near $160,000 (it rose by $10,000 the following week), besting last year’s $33,000 several times over. The overachiever: NMG CEO Karen Katz, who topped her own $100,000 goal by a cool $33,000, with a donor list that reads like a fashion who’s who: Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Louboutin, Oscar de la Renta, Céline… Katz also had a hand in scoring the team’s high-performance race-day gear, provided by Under Armour.
By mid-afternoon, the sun was peeking out and Team All Heart was all smiles—clutching finisher medals, taking selfies, sharing stories, high fives, and hugs. Battered feet and exhausted muscles, for the moment at least, a distant second to the thrill of finishing.