Yogathon: A Volunteer’s Journey to Creating a New Event
Stepping Outside the Box and On to the Mat
Lisa Cannon Taylor, Chair of Yogathon
Yogathon started with a brainstorming development phone meeting, disembodied voices throwing out ideas for an AWF spring fundraiser. Criteria were set out—the new event needed to be about health and wellness, reach out to a younger crowd and not encroach on our annual fundraiser, the Numbers Too Big To Ignore luncheon.
A walk, a fun run, a 5K, a marathon, a tennis tournament, a golf tournament— plenty of ideas were tossed around and vetted. I kept piping up about wanting to do something with yoga. A vision of hundreds of Atlantans practicing as one took hold in my mind. Another disembodied voice (most likely Kelly Dolan), “You mean a Yogathon?” Yes, that’s exactly what I meant, a day of mindfulness to bring our community together! For a moment, talk shifted back to doing a race, when Danica Kombol, emphatically said “No, it’s time we try something different—something out of the box!”
No playbook of tried and true actions, no timeline, no existing sponsors, no supporters— this would have to be built from the ground up. Only a lunatic would take that on. I called Kelly and said, “I’m your girl!” I attended hundreds of yoga classes, checking out teachers and styles of yoga. I flew to Boston to attend Yoga Reaches Out. I participated in Wanderlust 108 in Atlanta. Yoga teachers donated their time, their expertise, their wisdom. Connections led to connections—one thing I discovered is that yogis are incredibly open, giving and sharing their passion.
I fell more in love with yoga and the men and women I met along the way. Each one the universe seemed to put in front of me to help a new endeavor along. My wildest idea was to get international yoga icon Seane Corn for our first year. People smiled at my naïveté. When it looked like it was not going to happen, I sent an impassioned, heartfelt letter to Seane to have her reconsider our offer. Seane responded within the hour and we were on our way!
The concept that AWF could bring hundreds of Atlantans together, to take that first breath together and set our intention to change our world for the better—that was definitely stepping out of the box. We changed the model of team fundraising and we also found a wild, spirited, generous yoga posse who wanted to be on the mat with us — who wanted to be part of the change.
There is a power to practicing all together as one, harnessing the energy of the crowd, the peace of practicing outside and the ultimate joy of being in service to others—and it all starts when we take our collective breath as one.
The Atlanta Women’s Foundation Yogathon 2016 will take place on May 21 at Chastain Horse Park. Registration is now open.