By Angie Kimmel and Erin O’Sullivan

Every day NIRSA members bring the Association’s value to life, actively building healthy people and communities in their own campuses and towns.

And here at NIRSA Headquarters, located in beautiful Corvallis, OR, your office staff team works hard to help facilitate that work.

Whether it’s helping provide professional development opportunities or sharing members’ good work and ideas, we’re honored to play a small part in the great work you do.

Here at NIRSA Headquarters, we’re honored to play a small part in the great work you do!

And, in the process, we can’t help but be inspired to live the NIRSA values we help members promote and share! From standing desks to our daily walking breaks to lunch time yoga sessions, we try, as a team, to build our own health and wellness through small, daily efforts. NIRSA Executive Director, Pam Watts, is a supportive leader in this charge; she signed the CEO Pledge in January of 2013, ensuring a commitment to helping NIRSA staff practice what we preach!

Cascade Lakes Relay, held August 1-2 this year, is an overnight relay race through scenic Central Oregon. The standard team has twelve runners, split into two vans; each runner tackles a leg of 3-8 miles, varying in difficulty and terrain, before meeting his or her teammate at an exchange point. When all six of Van 1’s runners have completed their legs, they hand off to the runners in Van 2. Each runner will tackle three legs over the 216.6 mile course between Diamond Lake and Bend, winding through 8,110 feet of elevation gain and 9,686 feet of decent.

With Pam Watts’ support, eight NIRSA HQ members (and four NIRSA friends), took up the challenge! Even before we took off running, the relay was in swing. We worked with generous sponsors to get team race shirts made; decorated our vans with the NIRSA logo, runners names, and brightly colored patterns; and gave back to the small towns and communities we’d be running through—in addition to a great canned food drive, this year’s event raised over $45,000 for local charities.

Our team had an amazing time all weekend. Despite the race’s early 5:00am start time and little opportunity for sleep—as the runners ran through the night, geared up in reflective vests, head lamps, and blinking lights, teammates grabbed a few hours of sleep inside the van and out under the stars on the fields of a local high school—everyone remained energized and in great spirits.

At each major exchange point, the vans met up to swap stories, sharing tales of costumed runners, teams with water sprayers jovially cooling off runners in the intense mid-day heat, the kindness of local course volunteers, and great spots in the surrounding rivers and lakes to stop by for a quick swim and cool down. There was so much laughing and fun shared amongst the NIRSA team that even after 36+ hours crammed together in vans with minimal sleep, everyone was already talking about registering for next year’s race!

The big finish in Bend’s Old Mill District also made it worth it! Team NIRSA waited for our final runner to near the end of his leg and everyone got to run across the finish line together. There, despite a sudden but quick passing hail storm, team members collected their medals, took plenty of pictures, and enjoyed celebrating their accomplishments! Our team ranged from those who had never raced and took a walk/run approach for their legs to marathon runners trying to hit personal bests on challenging uphill legs. Each team member, no matter their previous race experience, was an integral part of getting Team NIRSA to the finish line, and each person left a bit happier and healthier.

Even better? Each person’s eagerness to race again! It’s this kind of continued commitment that will lead us all to build sustainable, healthy communities. So, thank you, NIRSA members for the inspiration to tackle such an event and live these values! We’re thrilled to be a small part of helping you all achieve such a wonderful vision.

And, tune in this time next year as Team NIRSA takes on the 2015 Cascade Lakes Relay!

NIRSA Headquarters relay participants

Kevin Bellis, Accounting Assistant
Dillon Huang, Receptionist
Angie Kimmel, Accountant (Team Captain)
Sarah Leskovec, Leadership Programs Assistant
Erin O’Sullivan, Communications Specialist
John Raskauskas, Professional Development Coordinator
Brittany Rejda, Assistant Director for Professional Development
Sierra Smith, Assistant Director for Event Management

NIRSA Participates in the Ice Bucket Challenge

Jamie Olson, a NIRSA member currently working as Member Services Supervisor at MIT, nominated NIRSA for the Ice Bucket Challenge. He took to Twitter on August 11 to propose that NIRSA get involved in raising money and awareness for ALS. A handful of NIRSA Leaders—including 2013-2014 NIRSA President Kathleen Hatch and 2012-2013 NIRSA Foundation Board President Eric Nickel, among others—have been participating in the challenge and the Team at NIRSA Headquarters wanted to get in on the crowdfunding.

NIRSA HQ took up Jamie’s nomination—bending the rules slightly—and completed the Ice Bucket Challenge eleven days later at our annual summer picnic. Check out the video on the NIRSA Facebook page!

Fifteen NIRSA Headquarters’ staff members participated, dumping buckets of ice-water on themselves. In addition to completing the Ice Bucket Challenge, staff members and a few anonymous donors raised over $200 to donate to the ALS Association. As of August 26, The ALS Association had received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 26).