I knew this day would come, and I knew I wouldn’t be ready for this CreateAthon Eve post.
How could I possibly describe in any slightly elegant way what it has meant to be part of CreateAthon for 20 years? So much has changed since that first crazy all-nighter in 1998, when a tiny band of us held our hands, hearts and breath together and dove into the literal creative darkness on Lady Street. We had no idea if we could do it. We had no idea if we could finish. We didn’t know if the work would be passable, much less great.
Then morning came, and with it, the light that would forever change us.
A glorious reminder of all that’s possible, come CreateAthon morning.
If you’ve ever been a CreateAthoner, you know what I’m talking about. I’m not gifted enough as a writer to convey it in one sentence or two. So indulge me as I default to a list of 20 CreateAthon touchpoints that have lifted me up and brought me through these long and lovely nights. No doubt, you have your own.
- The first handshake with a nonprofit director in a pre-CAT briefing session.
- A TV shoot that made a star out of a young gymnast with Down syndrome.
- Sneaking downtown at 3:00 am to get a Snickers because someone had the bright idea to outlaw junk food during CreateAthon II (never again).
- The obliteration of job titles in 24 hours – “everyone’s a creative during CreateAthon.”
- The first tear that was shed in a CAT client presentation, and every precious one that has fallen since.
- Having my Jay beside me, from the very first CreateAthon forward.
- The Djoliba Don West African dance troupe pounding the pavement outside our door.
- The notes, emails and hugs from clients who have stood behind this work, always. Including the client who showed up to make pancakes at midnight, just ‘cause.
- The birth of the pochure — because we couldn’t afford a brochure AND a poster.
- All the RP family members who have delivered cookies, brought the kids by for a visit, run errands, and put up with our pre-CreateAthon stress.
- Hearing “what I can do to help?” from your teammate at 5:00 am.
- Getting my hair dyed onsite during CreateAthon because you just can’t have bad roots visible for 24 hours straight.
- Little Bit, who will forever be our CreateAthon pup.
- Grits in the morning, and the people who make it their business to get them to us. God. Bless.
- Our friends from the advertising and design community who pitched in to help us when our RP team was very small and we wondered if we could even have CreateAthon that year. You know who you are.
- The ride with Cathy to the office the morning of CreateAthon, and the ride home, when we always declare the reasons why “this year was the best CreateAthon ever.”
- The greyhounds that pranced through our office and reminded us why rescuing them mattered.
- All of the RP alumni who have come back to participate.
- The look on a newbie CreateAthoner’s face when he sees the reaction of a CAT client during the presentations.
- Peyton and Tom: the one who makes us laugh, and the one who makes it happen.
I could go on well past 20, but I’ll stop and encourage all my fellow CreateAthoners to take a moment and recall the things that have carved a space in your own hearts. My thanks and gratitude to you for being a part of this journey, and for teaching me what it means to go down a path that is lit with the purest of intentions.