secretary of ADCHoyo and one of the promoters of Zancadas Solidarias
“We focus our attention on small associations and organizations which have few other openings for obtaining funds”
With his own business and an amateur runner, this tax consultant is one of the founders and the treasurer of the Runners Association in Hoyo de Manzanares, a town in the mountains around Madrid where a race is organized each year for running enthusiasts. But this is not just any old race, nor is it restricted to enthusiasts. It is much more than that. Its name says it all. Zancadas Solidarias [Strides for Solidarity] has been organized every Christmas ever since the association was formed in order to raise funds for those most in need. And there have already been eight editions, counting the least orthodox of them all, this one in the COVID era.
How long have you been holding Zancadas Solidarias?
The first edition was held the same year that we created the runners’ association, back in 2013. ADCHoyo was created with the aim of promoting sport among those who love running, as well as among the local kids. One of the ideas that arose around the same time was to organize a race and what better option than to make it a charity run. After all, this is a non-profit association and we felt we could do a great deal with the money we collected.
Things have changed significantly between that initial race and the most recent one…
That’s right, and in every sense. The first one was really basic. We had run in many events, but we had no idea how to organize one. We knew nothing about the logistics involved, for example. Despite everything, it didn’t go badly and, with the experience gained, we repeated the following year. And it has progressed really well, given that, in the first one we only raised €2,000, while in the last (not counting 2020, as this year was inevitably different) we almost reached €7,000. Altogether, we’ve now raised over €20,000.
The money you raise comes from the registrations, but what percentage goes to the chosen NGO?
100 percent of the registration fees, plus the proceeds from sponsors. We usually have a sponsor for the race, as well as for the association’s social networks, and these funds are included in full to the amount of the check we hand over on race day. Moreover, we also have the virtual participation number, an alternative like the “row zero” in theaters, which actually raises a fair bit, around €1,000 in each edition. This is actually another way for people to contribute, so that not only amateur runners can participate in this solidarity event. And sometimes we receive further help from other associations which help us raise more money. For example, La Galleta Solidaria, which distributes cookies in exchange for one euro or a kilo of food, with all they raise being donated to our cause.
So then, how do you subsidize the organization of the race?
The town council of Hoyo de Manzanares takes care of the costs in terms of logistics, thanks to an agreement we signed with them. In addition, we rely on some 50 volunteers to help mark out the route, control the traffic, offer provisions, etc. They are usually drawn from our Beginners group and local townspeople. Even the photographers and the person in charge of recording videos are volunteers; and that is precisely the source of another small amount, as some years we sell high-resolution images captured during the race to add to the money raised. From the very outset, we came to that conclusion because it was most important for us that the money raised should go in full toward helping others.
How do you choose the foundation or NGO which is to receive the money each year?
This decision is made by the Board or some member of the association, on the basis of what we have heard about – or someone we know who collaborates or benefits from – that institution. In the early days, we chose fairly large, well-known organizations, such as UNICEF, SOS Children’s Villages or the Red Cross. But then we realized that our fundraising – particularly at that time – did not really make a great impact on them. So we turned our attention to smaller associations and organizations, which have few other openings for obtaining funds, but run projects that are well worth supporting. The only characteristic we seek is that they are related to children. In recent years we’ve donated the money raised to, among others, Surgery in Dangbo, which sends health workers to this city in the Republic of Benin to perform surgical operations; the Ana Valdivia Foundation, dedicated to improving the lives of children with cerebral palsy; and the Juegaterapia Foundation, which hands out toys to children with cancer.
What is the most rewarding aspect of organizing each event?
Actually, simply organizing the race in itself is rewarding. And also seeing how so many people support us and collaborate altruistically. But by far the most emotional thing is when we hand over the giant check to the president of the chosen association. Two years ago there was a truly lovely moment when we collaborated with the Ana Valdivia Foundation, because two of their members came with their wheelchairs to participate and completed the children’s run. It’s thrilling when you realize that you’re doing your bit to improve the lives of other people.
Within the association, who takes charge of arranging the race?
All five of us on the Board of Directors: the president, Vicente Grande Duque, who is a Civil Guard and, on one occasion, won the Sahara Marathon; the vice president, Alvaro Garcia-Blanes Ingelmo, finance manager in a large company; the manager, Lucio Antonio Orduña Martínez, who is on the town council, and the secretary, Javier Alvarado San Juan, who works in a fairly important logistics group. And myself, I run my own tax consultancy. All five of us are enthusiastic runners and good friends.
Have you not considered organizing another race or some other activity?
It’s not that easy as this is a protected area and there’s no possibility of doing more. It’s a pity because we love doing this. What we want is to reach ever more people, sponsors and collaborators, given that we are limited to 450 runners physically participating in the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Biosphere Reserve, a figure we usually reach in each edition.
Are any of you actively involved in any other solidarity commitment?
Vincent Grande Duque has participated twice in the Sahara Marathon, a charity race held February each year in the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria) with the aim of promoting sport among young people, and financing social and humanitarian aid projects. The first year he went, he was the runner who contributed the most aid – between school materials, medicines and money… – as well as being the winner! The following year, 2017, he couldn’t repeat this sporting feat, but he could on the solidarity front, providing eleven boxes of medicines, five boxes of school supplies, computers for the camps’ libraries, and close to 3,500 euros for the children.
And this past year of 2020, how did you resolve the COVID issue for the race?
In effect, it wasn’t possible to hold the race as in previous years. We had to devise a new format which we called Strides for Kilos. No registration was required, nor any prior payment to participate in the race. But the participants pledged to make a contribution at the end of the challenge, which took place between November 28 and December 18, donating one euro or a kilo of food for each ten kilometers covered. Our objective was to achieve the highest possible volume of food in order to supply the local food bank, whose stocks had been severely hit over the last few months due to the pandemic. This idea of opting for a virtual model made it possible for this edition of the event to be opened up to other sports activities apart from running. In fact, the participants included athletes who practiced different disciplines, such as runners, cyclists, walkers, or swimmers