I spent nearly all day on the computer yesterday. I find that easy to do these days. Writing a single letter of request for a donation takes a lot of time. I try and carefully consider what I am writing to each company. Much time is taken just to research company websites, find a product that best meets my needs, search out a place to apply for sponsorship/product donation for that company, and/or find a marketing manager’s name to address on a letter. Then, a clear and concise letter of request is composed (and they are all different) to personally address that company and their product.
These days gear companies are pretty organized with their online sponsorship request systems (sign of the times). Some companies will let you know that if your purpose does not fall into their provided categories, don’t even bother to apply (like REI and North Face). Others will let you know that they will try and respond within 48 hours, five to ten business days, or within four months. I realize that it is important to apply to several companies, however, you have to plan for many hours in order to search for sponsorships.
I found out pretty early on that some companies won’t bother with you if you are not a “celebrity” athlete. I understand that. That is why the companies that have chosen to help me out are incredibly special and I hope to reward them with ample promotion. I am determined that my partnership with them will be a win-win situation. Thanks again to big company in-kind donations from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles, SPOT, title nine, and Patagonia for supporting my expedition.
So, yesterday I requested donations from Katadyn Group (Optimus stove and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods), Sea to Summit (sleeping bag and dry sacks), GoPro (camera), and Smith Optics (sunglasses). I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a Marketing Manager for Apple to request a Mac Book Pro. I know, what are the chances? But, if you don’t ask, you don’t even get a shot. I will have to send them a snail mail letter, pretty sure, and that doesn’t mean it will get read. I will also ask Sprint if they will give me six months of all-data service for an I-Phone that I can’t buy yet. A long-shot but, again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Think BIG!
Other companies I have sent requests to are Garmin (GPS), Marmot (sleeping bag), InReach (denied because I’m not a celebrity adventurer), Cascade Designs (tent, stove, Thermarest pad), PowerFilm, Inc. (solar-powered roll-up panel), Kokatat (paddling clothes), and KC Paddlers. Still waiting for a response from these folks. Others yet to contact are Seal Line (dry bags, PFD (life jacket)), Teva (sandals), other tent and sleeping bag companies, and a backpack company. I will need to find more paddling companies to research for gear.
I have not asked any companies for money. I think they like to see some successful accomplishments before they sponsor an expedition with cash. Hopefully, someone will connect with what I am doing and jump on board…soon.
Even more special are some of my dear friends who have donated financially. Thank you Bill and Anne Diehl, and Karen and Ric McCann – good friends from Bear Valley days. Also, my dear friend Deb Miller and best friend, Dave Bandy. You are the first. Thank you so much!!!
I am beginning to try some foods to bring along. I have a few Knorr side dishes to try at $1 a pop, which include mashed potatoes, rice dishes, and pasta, of course. I want to make sure I have plenty of comfort foods. I will try and contact some companies for food donations. Not sure who yet.
So, this is the bulk of the work I have to do. Hopefully, I will not have to purchase a tent and sleeping bag. After five months of not working due to student teaching, and substituting part time for $70/day, I will soon need to take out a loan, or launch into a fundraising campaign, or both. I’d like to avoid another loan. My student loans are enough to keep me occupied.
My boat is all set except to remove the old keel protection strip and apply a new one, which Eddyline has provided. I need to sand some scratches and fill them up. And, I need to set up my rudder. Oh, I have to rechristen the boat with the new name: Blue Moon.
I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100. The blog address will be larger on the new ones.
I also designed a new business card last night because the first batch did not turn out visually as nice as it appeared on the computer screen. No surprise. You get what you pay for and they were cheap. Here is a picture (a little fuzzy) of my new design I created with MOO. They should arrive in about a week.
The promo video will be ready in a week or so. Thank you Jim Karpowicz and Tom Newcomb of Black Truck Pictures. I hope to start an organized fundraising campaign then, perhaps with GoFundMe, or something of that nature. You can visit my Donation Opportunities page, which I have set up with tier-level rewards for financial donations. Please consider donating financially to help with the success of the expedition.
Norm Miller will be skiing into Brower’s Spring with me and has tracked down a pair of skis and boots from his friend who is loaning them to me. I am thankful for that. I may try and find a bike donation, or just bring my own. It is nothing special, and pretty heavy, but it is a comfortable ride. Someone may have to talk some sense into me to try and get a good bike to ride the sixty or more miles from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I am planning to put in a boat.
The Red Rock River on that stretch is complicated by private land with barbed-wire fences crossing through the river, electrical fencing doing the same, corrugated sheet-metal dams, and snag piles forcing numerous portages and body submerges. The road follows that stretch on which I will ride my bike.
Finally, I spend a fair amount of time on my blog posts. I try to make them interesting with good visual accompaniments. They take much longer, sometimes hours, than my more spontaneous updates on my Facebook page: Love Your Big Muddy Expedition. If you have not, please like my FB page. Sponsors like to see lots of page “likes.” Of course, I like to see the support. You actually are supporting my expedition indirectly by liking and following my pages and blog. THANK YOU!
So, if you are wondering when this epic adventure begins, it already has. I will be leaving for Montana with my daughter and a friend on the morning of April 14, the day after my Science Teacher Certification Exam. I hope to start the trek with my ski into Brower’s Spring on or near April 20th. Maybe I will find myself at Three Forks on May 1st. That would be ideal. I cannot wait to see the mountains and begin the adventure of my lifetime. Or, perhaps the first of many. Cheers!