UP students and founders of charity organisation Run Your Life David Burrows and Ryan Dyer are aspiring to change the world one step at a time. Burrows, a fifth-year LLB student, and Dyer, a postgraduate mechanical engineering student, will be running the Comrades Marathon for the third time next year, and will for the first time be running for a cause. Burrows and Dyer aim to raise money for orphanages around the country by getting others involved in the charity and by getting sponsors interested in their mission. Perdeby spoke with them to ask about their organisation, and the goals and challenges that they’ve faced.
What is the Run Your Life Foundation?
Burrows: Run Your Life is the brainchild of Ryan [Dyer] after last year’s Comrades Marathon. We chatted about the idea of running for a good cause and the idea grew and grew, and “Run Your Life” was born. What we do is basically raise money through running by approaching companies for sponsorships and in return offering advertising for the company. This is done in various forms, either through our Facebook page or on our running vests during races. The money these companies donate to us [is] then distributed to the various beneficiary charities that we have. Right now we have four orphanages that we raise money for through our name, and we are looking to get more as we grow in the future. Not only do we raise money, but the aim is also to raise awareness and show that you are in control of your own life.
Dyer: The Run Your Life charity is a fundraising initiative which aims to raise awareness and fulfil the needs of NPO’s. Our focus is specifically on the youth as they are the future. The fundraising initiative is for the sole benefit of the children cared for by orphanages, early childhood development centres, and care centres for children with sicknesses that require costly treatment. However, above and beyond the focus of our beneficiary’s various needs, we wish to share a message to as many people as possible. This is a profound message said simply in our name: “run your life”. We want to make everyone aware that they are capable of great things, no matter their current circumstances; that we can all achieve absolutely anything we put our mind to and dedicate our time to. It all starts with the choice to run your life.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in founding Run Your Life?
Burrows: This is actually quite an easy question. One would think charities would embrace you with open arms when you come to them telling them you would like to raise funds for them. But there is quite a long process when it comes to this, and contracts need to be drafted and all of that, so it is quite a lengthy process. We have also in the past dealt with corrupt charities that would take the money and the owners and managers would keep it and it wouldn’t go to the people in need. That, to me, was quite a shock and an eye-opener.
Dyer: Finding charities who would like to sign as beneficiaries. I know this sounds crazy, but most have always seemed interested but failed to get back to us or sustain their interest. It’s difficult having to take time out of our already busy schedules to keep following up, often times with no reply even. It’s quite disheartening, especially because all we intend to do is raise funds for the beneficiaries [who] will benefit directly without even needing to put in all that much effort, and at no cost. Thankfully this filters out the charities that evidently don’t need help and has left us with the ones who are desperately in need of support. Also, since David [Burrows] and I have no prior experience on [the] founding and running [of] a charity, it has taken much careful planning and strategising to ensure we make a sustainable success from it.
What goals are you hoping to achieve with the charity?
Burrows: For the moment, for me it would be raising as much money as we can from now until the next Comrades Marathon. Sure, it would be nice to want to grow and become huge, but I think the most important thing is to create awareness and build up a strong foundation.
Dyer: Getting onto social media and raising awareness is a big one, but ultimately, to manage our charity with integrity and guide it to prosperity. In the hope that we can reach out and help as many people as possible.
What advice would you give to students about getting more involved in charity work?
Burrows: Do it once and I promise you will do it again. It’s a feeling of self-reward that people should experience, and it really isn’t that hard to start something. All our beneficiaries are in constant need of someone to colour in with the kids or kick a ball outside. One Saturday is all it takes to change the life of a little boy or girl and at the same time your own.
Dyer: You have a lot more time on your hands than you think. Why not use it to do something meaningful, not just for the people who will benefit from it, but also for yourself? I’m hoping Run Your Life will open up doors for students and get them involved in charity.