Raleigh Couple Raises Over Half a Million Dollars for Charity Through Running

Yes, you read that correctly. We were blown away too. Raleigh couple Liz Pagano and Rick Florez have raised over $540,000 for charity over the years through road races and other running fundraisers. We have known about Liz and Rick, their nOg Run Club, the St. Paddy’s Day and Oktoberfest 8ks (and their great after parties) for years but we had no idea of the scale they were giving back.

You wouldn’t take them as some of Raleigh’s biggest philanthropists if you met them at a run club. The quiet, humble, unassuming couple, who also own Chiropractic Cafe, just blend into the crowd at their group runs or other races. But they are giving back to the community in a huge way. Through their races, and other unique events like the World Record Flip Flop 1K, they have created an engine that allows them to bring in big money for local charities.

It all started with the nOg Run Club, almost 10 years ago, that quickly grew into the largest run club in the area. Now that Monday night group run, that meets at the Raleigh Beer Garden after Tir na nOg closed, has been around so long that folks who met there have gotten married and have kids. Quickly, they realized the potential to do more good with the running community. The races and fun events followed, and so did the giving back.

Fundraising at this scale is not easy. Giving up every Monday night, other nights and weekends to plan and coordinate these events is hard work. But Liz and Rick have done it year in and year out with a smile on their face (most of the time). And the charities they give to and the Raleigh running community get to benefit.

We caught up with Liz and Rick to talk to them about how they have done it all. The Q and A is below:

So how did this all start?

In 2008, I read an article in Runners World about an Irish Pub that had a weekly run club.  We were new to the area and really didn’t know too many people at that time.  My brother owned Tir na nOg so I thought it would be be great to start a run club and it would be an easy way to meet people.  We partnered with Fleet Feet and together we made it happen.  We had no idea what to expect and had 69 people show up to our first run!  At that time, a run club at a restaurant/bar was a new concept so it was easy to build a base.  In our “heyday”, we would have 400 people show up to run with us on a typical Monday night!

The nOg Run Club and these races take a lot of time and you all are running Chiropractic Cafe as well. How do you pull it all off?

Yes it does!  We work Monday through Thursday so I do have Friday to schedule run club related meetings.  A lot of the work happens in between patients and in the evenings also.  The nOg Run Club also has great board members, which helps out a lot!

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What is the total raised for charity through the years?

We have raised a little over $540,000 through our races (St. Paddy’s 8K, Oktoberfest 8K, and World’s Largest Flip Flop 1K), member donations, and selling merchandise!

What are some of the charities that have benefitted?

Every year we donate 80 backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in the Wake county foster care system, send care packages to deployed NC National Guard troops, and sponsor 100+ children through the Wake County Holiday Cheer program (WCHC) as well as the 60 residents at Wake Assisted Living.  WCHC is by far the largest project we do and requires a lot of help from our members to shop, organize the gifts, then wrap and deliver to all the families.  We support one charity a month so I can’t list them all but a few have been Saving Grace NC, Note in the Pocket, Girls on the Run, Capital City Clauses, Families Together, MS Society, and Wake Enterprises.  A full list is on our website (www.nOgRunClub.com/Charity).  For our World’s Largest Flip Flop 1K, we have allowed other charities to partner with us and form teams. We donate 50% of the registration fee for every person who registers under their team.  It is a great way for us to continue breaking a Guinness World Record and for other local charities to raise funds!

What’s in the works for the next year? 

Next March is our 10th annual St. Paddy’s 8K!  Crazy to think we have been doing this for 10 years.  For our World’s Largest Flip Flop 1K, we are hoping to break our own current record of 1,336 – with 2,000 participants.  We are always looking for charities who want to join so send us an email at info@nOgRunClub.com if you are involved in a local charity.  Our Oktoberfest 8K has also continued to grow and it is fun to raise more and more money every year for our local community!

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Do you have any free time? If so, what do you do for fun?

We love to travel and visit new places as much as possible!  I had a goal of running at least a half marathon in all 50 states.  So up until I reached my goal in October of 2015, all of our travel plans revolved around visiting states I needed to check off my list.  Since completing that goal, our traveling has now revolved around scuba diving.  We dive as frequently as possible!

What keeps you motivated? 

Honestly, to see the kids faces when you deliver the gifts each year is what keeps me motivated.  We have to do what we do throughout the year to raise the funds to make this possible each year.  It is a ton of work but when you see the excitement of the children, it is all worth it!

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The nOg Run Club will be fielding a team for Run for Good outside Runologie and State Beer on October 22nd.  + their race the Oktoberfest 8K is always a great time. Sign up + get info here. Thanks Liz and Rick for all you do. You inspire us all.

The Size Run is curated by Alex Warren and Brent Francese, co-owner’s at Runologie.

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