Wicked FIT run canceled for good as charity refocuses

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The Annual Wicked FIT 5K has run its course as Families in Transition focuses its efforts on other fundraisers.

MANCHESTER, NH – As we approach Halloween, one holiday tradition in Concord will not return and has been cancelled for the foreseeable future: the Wicked FIT Run 5K.

For nine years, the Wicked FIT run was a family-friendly road race and a fun spectacle for onlookers. Runners would often wear costumes during the race, pitting dinosaurs against giant bananas and superheroes. 

Homeless services and mental health treatment organization Families in Transition, which began the event as a fundraiser and a way to build awareness of its Concord-based programs in 2011, announced it would no longer host the race last month.

FIT owns and operates 16 affordable housing units and supports another 16 units owned by a third party in Concord as part of its re-housing program.

Another 5K fundraiser for the nonprofit, the Walk Against Hunger in Manchester, was held virtually, this year and last year, and will continue to be one of the group’s tentpole events, alongside the Annual Breakfast, which is held closer to Thanksgiving, according to FIT spokesperson Kyle Chumas. 

“Those are both legacy events that have been in the Manchester area for a while,” Chumas said.

The race was one of several official area qualifiers for bigger races, and it was timed by Millennium Running. 

Over its nine years, Wicked FIT hosted over 4,200 runners, raised about $325,000 for general programs and services. The most people to participate in the run was 777 in 2015. The most it raised in a single year was about $57,000 in 2017, according to Chumas. 

By comparison, an average year (in recent years) for the Walk Against Hunger raises about $115,000 and the Annual Breakfast raises about $190,000 in a given year.

Chumas said fundraising from events accounted for roughly 4 percent of their annual budget last year. 

Other events were cancelled such as the Empty Bowls fundraiser usually held at Brookside Congregational Church in Manchester each year, and the Run for Hope in Wolfeboro. 

Chumas said the organization decided to reduce the number of annual fundraisers because it had seen events increase after inheriting former New Horizons events, which carried over from the recent merger. It also did not have sufficient events staff to support all of the events as individuals transitioned out to other roles, Chumas said.

Many of the events were concentrated around August, October and November, he said.

“It’s been challenging to try to manage five or six events with limited staff to do so,” Chumas said. “I think any nonprofit has limited resources when it comes to staffing, especially right now.”

He said there is also a growing trend among donors who increasingly prefer to see their money spent on direct impact events such as one-off community meals, rather than sponsor big fundraiser events.

For now, FIT will be focusing on its two main events, the Walk Against Hunger and the Annual Breakfast. Chumas said the Annual Breakfast usually hosts up to 700 people at the DoubleTree by Hilton Armory room, and dignitaries like Congressional delegates and the Mayor of Manchester would often attend and give remarks.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the organization to host virtual events in 2020 and 2021. The Annual Breakfast, this year set for Nov. 23,  has taken the form of a Facebook video and the online collection of donations.

“It’s not an easy call because we want to see people and we want to be able to meet with people and see people face-to-face and it’s been such a community staple to people for a number of years,” Chumas said. “I think it’s just challenging to capture people’s attention.”

This year will be the 28th Annual Breakfast.