50 States of Leadership
The book is based on the 4D 50-State 5K journey that
Jeff Fazio initiated on June 30, 2013. The book highlights leadership
lessons that Jeff learned as he traversed the United States of America in
honor of a colleague.
The 4D Story ...
Not all of us can run ...
... do you ever think of those that can't run?
We too often take our
ability to run for granted.
My friend Dee Gerber has Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and has been very
supportive of my running. Sometime during the week of June 17 she asked
me if I had a race during the upcoming weekend and I confirmed that I
She asked if I could do her a favor. She asked me to think about her and
of those that can't run when I hit the 1-mile mark on that weekend's 5K.
My initial response to her was that I would make a point to think of
those that can't run every time I hit a mile during a race.
As I thought about this request all week, I thought about how fortunate
I was to be able to run. I thought about how running is not an option
for all of us. I decided to make a little pin that simply read 4D—as in
I am running "For Dee" since she can't. This first 'pin' was
literally just the 2 characters 4 D printed out on paper from my
at-home-printer and stuck on my jersey with bobby pins just like our
That race was the first 5K I entered that had a hill in it—a rather huge
hill. We had to do 2 laps and by the time I reached the top of the first
lap, I was thinking these people are crazy. Why would you have a hill in
a 5K? I had ignorantly assumed that 5K races were always flat courses. I
wasn't sure I had it in me to do a second lap and realized I had no
reason to. Why put myself through this type of misery and pain? I can
just stop running.
Then I remembered that I had the 4D on my shirt. Who was I to question a
second lap when so many don't even have the option of attempting the
first one? So I pressed on with new inspiration. I would have quit that
race if it wasn't for Dee Gerber.
The following weekend I ran my first out-of-state 5K in the Bronx, NYC.
About an hour before the race I realized I forgot my 4D sheets of paper
so I scrambled—or rather scribbled—4D onto a fast-food napkin and stuck
it on my jersey.
After two races of wearing 4D, I started thinking more about what it
means and I decided that it can also be running 4D (as in an abbreviated
"For Dystrophy"). Although Dee was the original inspiration for the
idea, I think 4D could be worn by runners to signify their support of
anyone that can't run for whatever reason.
Deciding my commitment to this effort was greater than napkins and
printer paper, I opened a CafePress store for 4D merchandise
This is when I decided to create an actual 4D logo with the word
DYSTROPHY inside of the letter D. I opened the store so I could purchase
a real pin to wear. The CafePress site automatically creates a store
with all sorts of merchandise with your logo on it.
Within a day of sharing the link to the store online, I got questions
from bikers, hikers and swimmers about their willingness to support the
4D Mission. So
the next day I opened CafePress stores for
and Bikers. The initial profits from the stores will
be used to purchase pins to hand out to runners. If the stores are
financially successful, the profits will be donated to the Muscular
Dystrophy Association (MDA).
I also decided that I was going to run a 5K in all 50 states to share
the message, or at the very least, carry the pin onward. Knowing this
was an awesome task, I originally set realistic goals of being a weekend
warrior and hitting states as the race schedules made it convenient.
With the popularity of 5K racing, I realized that it was actually easy
to string a few states together in one weekend. This really inspired me
and gave me a new challenge of running multiple races in a short time
span. As I built a race schedule to finish out 2013 I began to realize
that I might actually have 27 states, D.C. and Jamaica (twice) done by
Jan. 1, 2014. That is over half of the country in the first 6 months.
This in turn inspired a very unrealistic goal of running a 5K in all 50
states ... in 1 year. Or is it unrealistic?
I will let you know on July 1, 2014.