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posted by Teresa Coles Oct 18,2017 @ 05:05PM

20 all-nighters, 20 points of light.

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.

  1. The first handshake with a nonprofit director in a pre-CAT briefing session.

  2. A TV shoot that made a star out of a young gymnast with Down syndrome.

  3. 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).

  4. The obliteration of job titles in 24 hours – “everyone’s a creative during CreateAthon.”

  5. The first tear that was shed in a CAT client presentation, and every precious one that has fallen since.

  6. Having my Jay beside me, from the very first CreateAthon forward.

  7. The Djoliba Don West African dance troupe pounding the pavement outside our door.

  8. 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.

  9. The birth of the pochure — because we couldn’t afford a brochure AND a poster.

  10. 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.

  11. Hearing “what I can do to help?” from your teammate at 5:00 am.

  12. Getting my hair dyed onsite during CreateAthon because you just can’t have bad roots visible for 24 hours straight.

  13. Little Bit, who will forever be our CreateAthon pup.

  14. Grits in the morning, and the people who make it their business to get them to us. God. Bless.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.”

  17. The greyhounds that pranced through our office and reminded us why rescuing them mattered.

  18. All of the RP alumni who have come back to participate.

  19. The look on a newbie CreateAthoner’s face when he sees the reaction of a CAT client during the presentations.

  20. 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.

Until tomorrow,


posted by Riggs Partners Sep 19,2017 @ 03:30PM



Six South Carolina nonprofit organizations will be the beneficiaries of pro bono marketing and communication services provided by Riggs Partners during its 20th annual CreateAthon®. The 24-hour marketing marathon effort will begin Thursday, October 19 at 8:00 a.m. and conclude the morning of Friday, October 20.

Organizations selected as CreateAthon clients this year include:

Auntie Bellum

Columbia Children’s Theatre

Girls Rock 

Greenville Family Partnership

Heroes in Blue

Lexington Interfaith Community Services

“It’s hard to believe that our little idea called CreateAthon is now a national nonprofit approaching its 20th year of helping nonprofits in South Carolina and across the U.S.,” said Teresa Coles, president of Riggs Partners and cofounder of CreateAthon. “Local nonprofits throughout America race to help others in times of need. We’re proud to do the same for them by helping them expand their impact, strengthen their operations, and achieve greater financial security.”

 Sun Solutions will again donate printing and production services for marketing materials developed for Riggs Partners’ CreateAthon clients.

posted by Teresa Coles Oct 19,2016 @ 05:14PM

On Riggs. CreateAthon. And more than a little grace.

Twenty-nine years ago today Cathy Rigg said enough. Enough to mediocre thinking. Enough to creative short cuts. She left her job on a Friday, bought a Mac SE with money from her grandmother, and opened up C.C. Riggs on Black Monday, October 19, 1987.

What a little vision and a lot of believin' looks like

There were a million reasons why this company would fail.

And yet, here we are.

Nineteen years ago, she and I wondered if there might be something more for our company. A higher calling, if you will. So we came up with the notion of pulling an all-nighter to help nonprofits that couldn’t afford professional marketing.

There were a million reasons why this idea would fail.

And yet, here we are.

So what matters in all of this? What have these markers in our collective history taught us about our work, our lives and each other?

Consider it all joy.

On this birthday of Riggs and the eve of CreateAthon 19, I’m mindful of the cords of grace that have bound us over the years. The unspoken covenant that held us together when we just didn’t think we could do One More Thing. The willingness to listen generously to each other’s point of view in order to solve the unsolvable. The abiding sense of teamwork that pulled us out of chaotic seasons and returned us to a place of peace.

I'm grateful for every one of these challenges and foibles. They are testament to both our humanity and to what can be accomplished when we uphold each other in pursuit of something that’s bigger than any one of us.

Riggs Partners hasn’t been in business for 29 years because we’re smarter than anyone else in marketing. CreateAthon hasn’t delivered more than $24 million in pro bono service because we came up with the idea first.

It happened because we had faith in each other. And we knew that by standing as one, there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish – even if it wasn’t always perfect along the way.

Tomorrow morning, CreateAthoners will walk into the WECO building and breathe air that is electric, inspiring and humbling. We will bear witness to our very best selves. And we will see that as much as our CreateAthon clients may benefit from our gifts, the joy we receive will be tenfold.

That, my friends, is more than enough to say grace over.

posted by Teresa Coles Oct 13,2016 @ 04:34PM

24 hours, 24 dollars. That’s all it takes to change the world.

This time next week, we’ll be burning the midnight oil over at Riggs Partners during CreateAthon 19. It seems like only yesterday that we pulled our first all-nighter for good, working 24 hours nonstop to deliver pro bono marketing projects for nonprofits and the important causes they represent.

As you may know, CreateAthon has grown organically and exponentially since we founded the program. We’ve served more than 150 different nonprofits in South Carolina. Plus, we’ve recruited more than 100 different marketing groups throughout North America as CreateAthon partners, all of whom have hosted CreateAthon events for nonprofits that otherwise would not be able to afford professional marketing services. To date, the program has delivered over $24 million of pro bono marketing service to the nonprofit marketplace.


What you may not know is that CreateAthon has recently become a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Moving forward, the goal is to generate $100 million of pro bono service to nonprofits by 2020. That’s a big calling, and it needs human and capital resources to make it happen.

That’s why we’re asking for your consideration in pledging $1 an hour for each of the 24 hours our team will be working during CreateAthon next week. All of the proceeds will go to helping us bring more CreateAthon events to nonprofits in the US and beyond.

To pledge, just visit the RP Power of 24 fundraising page. You may choose to make a gift directly from this group page or make separate pledges on behalf of your favorite CreateAthoners!

Thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement of our efforts to serve nonprofits through CreateAthon. Together, we’re putting creative super powers to work in some pretty remarkable places!

posted by Teresa Coles Oct 06,2016 @ 03:10PM

The Coming of CreateAthon 19

Two weeks from this very day, the WECO building will transform itself yet again from the quiet workplace of Riggs Partners and truematter to the Mother Ship of CreateAthon. To be exact, this increasingly natural phenomenon — fueled by the transference of creative superpowers for good — will begin at 0800 hours on Thursday, October 20 and will remain in effect until 0800 hours on Friday, October, 21. ish.

Like every year, we here at RP are in full-on tilt mode, onboarding the newest class of CreateAthon clients in an effort to fully understand their work, determine how effective communications can help move that work forward, and scope out a plan of attack for producing strategic and creative deliverables within the 24-hour marathon.

From the moment we encounter these fine souls, we’re instantly awed by the impact of their work and their willingness to answer the call to community service. For that reason, and many more, we’re happy to introduce you to our newest CreateAthon clients and sure-to-be dear friends:

Friends of Harbison State Forest: Works to preserve the recreational and educational aspects of Harbison State Forest as an urban forest resource, with an emphasis on planning, designing and building a sustainable trail system.
Gun Sense SC: Raise awareness about gun violence as a public health crisis in South Carolina and inspires communities and lawmakers to work together toward sensible gun safety solutions.

Healthy Learners: Devoted to removing children’s health barriers in South Carolina so they may be healthy, happy and learn to their full potential.

Homeless No More (formerly Trinity Housing Corporation): Seeks to eradicate family homelessness through a holistic, community-wide approach to providing emergency shelter, transitional services and long-term affordable housing solutions.
NAMI Mid-Carolina: Advocate for mental health awareness, education and resources in order to improve the treatment options and quality of life for people affected by mental illnesses. 


Palmetto State Base Camp, Inc. Provides transitional housing services to homeless veterans as well as employment support and access to additional community resources.


At a glance, you can readily see that these organizations — and the people behind them — are about the business of changing life as we know it here in South Carolina.

As the days leading up to CreateAthon unfold before us, we know our lives will be changed, as well.

We invite you to come along with us.




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