By: Alexis Hall, Assistant Director of Athletics
At times, we tend to forget how simple actions can inspire.
If someone asked you to run to raise money, you probably would. But if someone asked you to run 24 miles in 24 hours, starting each mile at the top of every hour, would you still?
Seniors Will Grainger and Casey Scott not only participated but were founders of creating a 24 in 24 fundraising event on their own, and they have done it twice.
“There are very loose rules on how you complete the mile, you just have to run," Will explained. "The challenge is more a mental test of willpower than of physical athleticism." 24 in 24 was adopted by the pair to raise money for the Second Harvest Food Bank, where both had previously volunteered. “In the winter of 2020, we ran the first iteration, not initially as a service project, though Casey’s dad donated money to Second Harvest Food Bank in our name, Will said. "Then, in August of 2021, we ran it for the first time as a service project, before doing it again in January of 2023.”
The pair enjoyed running, and during the height of the pandemic, were looking for ways to challenge themselves and push others to help the community. “The Second Harvest Food Bank does a lot of good work for food deserts and food-deprived individuals in the Charlotte area,” Casey added. “Will reached out to a bunch of our friends to participate in the first fundraiser and we all did it together and it continued to grow. Will and I have been friends since Lower School, and I was one of the few who continued to be up for it time after time.”
Inspired by a TikTok challenge, they soon found that although buy-in wasn’t numerous, it was strong. “We soon realized we could make money off of the challenge, and decided to make it a fundraiser,” Casey explained.
From just a $500 donation in their name, Will and Casey have now raised over $2,000 from their latest run in January.
Keep in mind, this is a true 24 in 24 challenge, meaning all day, all night. “From this fundraiser, I learned the extent of my willpower,” Casey said. “I continued time and time again to realize what I could do when I really put my mind to it, even at 3:00 am.”
To gain recognition, they created a GoFundMe connected directly to Second Harvest Food Bank and spread the word by reaching out to friends and family and sharing on social media, posting selfies of their solo runs in the early hours of the morning, to videos of their group’s progress through the day.
Will shared a story about Marshal Merz ('23) during their very first 24 in 24 fundraiser. “He told me he would be at my house at 4:00 am to join me on my run. I didn’t believe him at the time. However, when he scared me on the front lawn in the early hours of the morning, I knew we were building something special.” Will concluded, “he ran with me that hour, and many after that.”
Will and Casey are both members of the Captains Academy, a leadership program through Charlotte FC where a group of student-athletes across the Charlotte area are nominated by their school to participate in leadership training. Captains of the program are elected to share their stories of leadership in and outside the world of sports.
They presented their service project to the academy and were acknowledged for their efforts at a Charlotte FC game this spring. “At Country Day, we built relationships through the shared struggle of running each hour. Some people that I was not close with came to run, and spending hours together, pushing ourselves, brought us all closer,” Will said. “I learned how supportive people can be. The amount of people that came out to run with us and stayed many hours, as well as the people in my neighborhood that ate dinner outside and cheered us on. I also learned how far I can push myself with my mind, even when my body wanted to stop, I wouldn’t let it.”
Will added, “thank you, everyone, for keeping me going. As difficult as the challenge is, at times it was just fun to talk as we ran and hang out between each mile. The struggle was made easier by sharing it with others.”
The pair hopes to make this an annual event, inspiring others to compete in similar challenges in the name of charitable giving. "This service project will be continued, more likely where we attend college," Will said. "There will be many people willing and able to participate, where we can easily publicize the event. I hope it can become a tradition and a community event that people remember.”
“Thank you so much, to everyone who participated and donated. You all kept our morale high, and your impact was resounding,” Casey concluded.
Through Will and Casey’s leadership, we are shown how actions lead to influence and the capacity to be the change, even when no one is watching you run.
To find more information about how to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank, please visit: Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina (secondharvestmetrolina.org)