Team FX is a slice of Austin

Written by Meg Greene

Every Saturday morning since last August, a group of people from all over Austin has meet in Zilker Park. They sign in, greet their teammates, tighten their laces, cue up their music, and begin warming up. As the sun beats overhead, or clouds loom, or rain mists, or winter temperatures chill, they train as a group for the Austin Marathon.

Before embarking on a run, they huddle together, hands piled in, for a group cheer: “Be the strange!” – a sort of combination of the Ghandi quote “be the change” and “keep Austin weird.”

These runners represent our community — they are white, Latinx, Asian American, and immigrants. They are students, professionals, and parents. They are computer programmers, lawyers, and teachers. They work in technology, film, for the government, and own local businesses.

And as a SAFE staff member, I was honored to join the team this year to train for the half marathon.

Team FX

Team FX is a slice of Austin, representing the array of identities, the richness of skills, and the big Texas heart that makes our community vibrant. What brings the team together is a shared passion for making a difference in our community.

While Team FXers enjoy running, what unites them is their dedication to supporting a cause. What motivates them is their dedication to making change in our community by lacing up their running shoes to spread awareness about child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Each runner joins the team and accepts a commitment to raising funds for SAFE.

Since their debut in 2005, a total of 288 marathon and half-marathon medals have been awarded, and the team has raised over $375,000 to support the organization formerly known as Austin Children’s Shelter – now The SAFE Alliance, a merger with SafePlace.

They were even awarded the 2016 Austin Marathon’s most prestigious award, The David Doolittle Memorial Cup, for excellence in community service.

One step at a time

During our training we remained connected to the Team FX mission to create a world without child abuse and neglect. We checked in weekly about our fundraising efforts and at the end of every training run around Lady Bird Lake, we convened to stretch as a group, laughing and sometimes commiserating about a difficult run.

As stretching came to a close, Coach Gary Walker asked for a drumroll and a team member announced the total fundraising for the week, as well as how much we’d raised so far. Gary called us to action by reminding us of how much more we needed to make our goal.

Now, the dust has settled from race day. The musicians along the race route have long ceased playing. Winners have been announced. Our weekly drumrolls have ended. And we celebrated our victories over a post-race dinner, revealing our final accomplishment in the form of a large check.

Ultimately Team FX raised $33,869 to support youth in SAFE’s care. Over 230 community members supported our team’s fundraising and awareness efforts and, in Coach Gary’s words: “Together we accomplish great things. We are all enough and we do none of this alone. Thank you for being this blanket of hope for our children.”