Nikes marathon fundraising run from Astoria, Ore., to New York City is truly a remarkable undertaking.
Called "The Promise Run," the campaign was created by Nike employees seeking a way to help heal a wounded nation, while at the same time honoring police officers, firefighters, and emergency service personnel.
They came up with a nearly perfect symbol of American grit: In initiating a cross-country run that spans more than 3,400 miles, includes more than 200 runners (they run two at a time), and stretches over several weeks, Nike is demonstrating the strength, determination, and patience of Americans, as well as showing the value of teamwork.
In stopping at fire stations in small towns across the land, they have found a unique way to offer support and pay tribute to law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency personnel -- people who are prepared to put themselves at risk every day as they stand ready to protect the public.
Finally, by calling on its many high-profile business partners -- including well-known professional athletes -- they have tapped into a strong fundraising source.
The money raised during the marathon run will go toward another important focus of Nike's Promise Run: helping raise cash for the "Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund." The scholarship fund is a program former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole set up earlier this month as a way to help provide a college or trade school education for the approximately 15,000 children who, tragically and senselessly, lost a parent during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Additional funds being raised will go to benefit foundations that provide financial help for families of police officers and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.
In last Friday's visit to the White Salmon Fire Hall, a group of approximately 20 friendly Nike employees met with local police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. Symbolic gifts were exchanged: The runners brought Nike products, which the Fire Department can use to raise funds for needed supplies or equipment. In turn, White Salmon's police and fire crews handed over the colorful shoulder patches they wear on their uniforms in a show of unity and support for the run to New York.
All in all, what Nike has come up with is a magnificent tribute to the unbreakable spirit of the American people. It was especially gratifying that White Salmon was among the 45 towns chosen along the route.
With this wonderful concept, Nike is demonstrating to the nation and the world that our people are strong and unbowed, that we stand together, and that we remain compassionate and caring for others.
Great work, Nike.