Runners rev up for Baltimore Marathon

RunningFestivalJC5Attention runners of Charm City: If you haven’t already registered for the Baltimore Running Festival, the Oct. 12 event that includes the marathon, you better get to it.

There are 15 percent more runners registered for the race than there were at this time last year, according to Corrigan Sports Enterprises, the sports marketing and event management firm that organizes the festival.

Now in its 13th year, the Baltimore Running Festival was honored earlier this week as one of the top 15 fall marathons in the country by workout website

Additionally, all available vendor booths for the event’s Health & Fitness Expo — which is Oct. 10 and 11 in the Baltimore Convention Center — have sold out. (The news comes on the heels of the city tourism agency’s annual report, which found that tourism continues to rebound and boost the local economy.)

“We’ve worked hard to put on a world-class event in Baltimore, so it’s great to be recognized right alongside other industry giants as a top destination for runners,” Lee Corrigan, president of CSE, said in a statement. “This event offers tremendous value and our sales for both runner registration and expo booths reflect that.”

The Baltimore Running Festival offers something for runners of all walks, including those who don’t have those “26.2” stickers on their cars. There’s the signature event, of course, the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, but there’s also a half-marathon, a team relay, a 5K and a kids’ fun run.

Registration costs between $90 and $110 for the marathon and between $15 and $100 for the other events.

The 2012 BRF had an economic impact of $38.6 million and raised $1.7 million for charity, according to a study by the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.

(For a behind-the-scenes look at how a tiny, local firm like Corrigan Sports Enterprises plans the massive event, check out my story leading up to last year’s race and my blog post with anecdotes about the company’s formation and stats about the race)

Hunt Valley car dealership presents bombing victim with donation

A Hunt Valley car dealership has presented teacher Erika Brannock with a check for $10,100 to help pay for medical costs and her ongoing recovery following the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing.

Brannock, a 29-year-old pre-school teacher from Towson, was given the money by Valley Motors Subaru of Hunt Valley and Subaru of America, Inc. The suburban Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and Subaru dealership established in 1961, has donated $100 for every Subaru it has sold since May, and has collected private donations in the showroom and on the Web.

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Serving up a good cause

This week through Thursday, California Pizza Kitchens in Annapolis, Hunt Valley and across Maryland and the U.S. are raising money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families.

The One Fund was formed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to aid those affected by the bombings. It has received several donations already from large corporations, including $1 million from John Hancock Financial, a life insurance and financial services company headquartered in Boston.

California Pizza Kitchen won’t know for sure until the end of the week, officials there said Wednesday. But the fundraising drive there seemed to be successful, store employees said.

“It’s going great,” said an employee in a suburban Washington location. “We feel very passionate about getting the word out there.”

McDaniel building to be renamed in honor of Merritt

Leroy MerrittMcDaniel College next month will rename its Academic Hall for the late commercial real estate developer Leroy M. Merritt, a McDaniel alumnus.

Officials at the Westminster college said Tuesday the eight-year-old hall, home of the school’s departments of education, psychology, graduate and professional studies and student academic support services will be called Merritt Hall.

Merritt was a 1952 graduate of the former Western Maryland College, now McDaniel, located in Carroll County.

Merritt grew up in Dundalk and was a graduate of Dundalk High School where he was a football player and boxer. He died of cancer at age 79 in 2010.

His business smarts became legendary in the local commercial real estate community after he founded Merritt Properties in 1967, which went on to become the largest privately held commercial real estate portfolio in the Baltimore metropolitan area. He also founded the chain of Merritt Athletic Clubs.

In 2007, his alma mater named its new Merritt Fitness Center for him. Merritt also pledged $5 million to help fund renovations to student dormitories at McDaniel as well as additional athletic facilities.

The naming ceremony for the Academic Hall is scheduled for May 4 at 11 a.m., during McDaniel’s reunion weekend festivities.

Bloomberg gives $5 million to Baltimore’s Open Society Institute

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave $5 million to the Open Society Institute-Baltimore on Thursday to help fund a local effort that aims to help keep city teens in school and boost graduation rates.

Bloomberg’s gift will help underwrite OSI’s Accelerated Pathways Initiative, part of the nonprofit’s education and youth development project.

The Accelerated Pathways Initiative is a five-year program that works with pre-K through high school students to support school reforms, create new schools and foster learning in and outside of the classrooms, OSI officials said.

It creates “rigorous, supportive and accelerated high school options in Baltimore that will significantly increase graduation rates and post-secondary success, particularly for the city’s African American male students,” an OSI statement released Friday said.

“Mayor Bloomberg shares our deep commitment to ensure that all children have access to a challenging academic program and the encouragement and support they need to graduate well prepared for successful futures,” said Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore, who is also serving as acting executive director of the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs.

Bloomberg, a 1964 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, with a degree in electrical engineering, was visiting Baltimore for the dedication of the $1.1 billion Johns Hopkins Hospital facility Thursday.

Part of the new hospital building in East Baltimore, the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, was named in honor of the mayor’s mother. Bloomberg is a major donor to  Hopkins.

Businesses step up for new Maryland Women’s Heritage Center

Maryland Women’s Heritage Center celebrates its grand opening  Saturday and is located in a beautiful ground floor section of the renovated 39 West Lexington luxury apartment homes in downtown.

If you’re wondering how the nonprofit got such a sweet space (2,400 square feet in the historic Baltimore Gas & Electric building), it’s certainly not because it can afford it. The space is being donated by David Hillman, CEO of Southern Management, which owns the property.

The generosity of local businesses didn’t stop there for the heritage center, which is an educational center featuring exhibits and historical information on dozens of Maryland women (including Harriet Tubman and Shoshana S. Cardin) and their achievements. Take a peak inside, and everywhere you look, you’ll see something that has been donated.

Sherwin-Williams Co. donated the paint, CertaPro Painters did the painting, Signs by Tomorrow of Baltimore donated all the signage. All the construction materials and labor (the space took about four months to complete) was donated by Lewis Contractors, Commercial Interiors Inc., CAM Construction Co. and Wilmot Modular Structures Inc.

Lastly, Cho Benn Holbak+ Associates donated the architectural services.

The center, which began as an idea back in the early 1980s as an outgrowth of the Maryland Women’s History Project, is also entirely staffed by volunteers. Its one paid employee, Executive Director Jill Moss Greenberg, had a lot to do with hustling for all the donations that got the center up and running.

The center’s influential executive board of directors — which includes former First Lady Frances Hughes Glendening, former First Lady Kendel S. Ehrlich and First Lady Katie Curran O’Malley — also doesn’t hurt.

The Maryland Women’s Heritage Center hopes to make its permanent location in a space 10 times as big as the one it’s in now so it can house a theater and permanent exhibits on influential Maryland women. But I think that’s probably gonna take some actual dough…

A campaign with sole

berlin-gtx-boot.jpgHow much do you walk every day? Are you perhaps one of those women who carry their heels in a bag and walk to work in more comfortable shoes? (I, for one, am guilty of that during the warmer months and wear my flip flops everywhere I possibly can.)

Well, if so you might want in on a contest that’s part of a promotional campaign being run by Baltimore-based Warschawski for its client GOR-TEX. The company, which makes waterproof/breathable fabric, has partnered with Soles4Souls, a charity that provides shoes to people in need, to launch the “How Far Can One Pair Go?” national shoe drive and footwear promotion.

The campaign encourages consumers to donate shoes or money to the charity from now until Dec. 31 at select retail partners or online at Gore will also donate $5 to Soles4Souls for each pair of shoes made with the GORE-TEX brand technology purchased through the website during the campaign (up to $10,000 total). As of Sept. 23, $400 has been donated to the charity.

The contest requires entrants to submit a short essay (no longer than this post) on how far you walk every day. The winner and a friend will travel with Soles4Souls to give away shoes during a distribution trip in June. Ten runners up will get a free pair of GOR-TEX shoes.

Seeing as Baltimore was voted one of America’s top walking cities (I’m assuming that’s because of the Inner Harbor where it’s less likely to get run down by a Mack truck barreling down a narrow city street), I’d expect to see some strong representation here on this front. Let’s show those San Franciscans (voted best walking city) that ridiculously steep hills aren’t the only elements that make a good walking story.

Checking in with Morton’s co-founder Klaus Fritsch

Klaus Fritsch, co-founder of Morton’s The Steakhouse, was in Baltimore and Annapolis this week promoting the restaurant’s new cookbook, and I had a chance to speak with him Thursday.

Although this is the second Morton’s cookbook in three years, Fritsch, who is the author, said it will likely be the last. Or at least as long as he’s still around, it will be.

“We had a great reception from the first one, so we did a second,” he said.

“But I just don’t think there’s room for a third,” he added, pointing out the recipes in the books are also used in Morton’s restaurants.

After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

All right, it’s not quite like that — after all these ingredients don’t come cheap, and sometimes the hassle of making the meal doesn’t outweigh the cost of going out. But what is interesting to note is the release of the cookbook also comes at a time when some Morton’s diners are turning to eating more meals in, according to Fritsch.

While that may be nice for cookbook sales, it doesn’t change the fact that dining room sales have decreased. But Morton’s isn’t alone, said Fritsch.

“Of course we’re affected by [the economy], but everybody has been,” he said. “Everyone’s having deals now to counteract that and so are we… But we’re an expensive place, let’s face it. On the other hand, if you really want a good steak, you’ll still go out for it.” Continue reading

CEG Senior Players Championship fund raising taking a different tack this year

This week, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship announced its “Tickets Fore Charity” campaign in which local charities can sell tickets and keep 75 percent of the proceeds while the remaining 25 percent goes to the tournament’s local charitable donation.

It’s an age-old practice (selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid comes to mind), but the concept is new to the annual PGA seniors tour stop at the Baltimore Country Club. And when faced with an economy that’s seeing declines in both spending on sporting events and charitable contributions, this fund raising campaign is getting two birds with one stone.

First Tee of Baltimore, however, will be the only charity benefiting from that 25 percent of charity ticket sales. In the past, First Tee, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Union Memorial Hospital and the Baltimore Community Foundation have each typically received $100,000 annually from the tournament since the pros began playing here in 2007.

According to Steve Schoenfeld, the tournament director,  the other charities are all still aligned with the tournament as beneficiaries.

“We chose to include The First Tee for the 25% share of the TICKETS Fore CHARITY program because it was a PGA TOUR initiative that founded The First Tee years ago and it is near and dear to our business (obviously),” Schoenfeld wrote in an e-mail. “In fact, The First Tee is tied in to the TICKETS Fore CHARITY program at all of the events that Championship Management…runs.”

OK, I understand that. But if I’m working for one of the other charities, I see a recession that’s both taking a toll on charitable donations nationally and slowing spending at sporting events — and I’m wondering how much the golf tournament will still be able to help out with its donation this year.

Seems like this program would be a good opportunity for those charities to both try and make up the difference and help themselves by boosting ticket sales (and thus attendance and spending at the event) by participating in the fundraiser, too.

And in the end if it all comes out in the wash as “CEG Senior Players Championship matches ticket sales and charitable contribution from last year, despite a down economy,” well that’s why they call it a win-win, isn’t it?

Local leaders to perform fancy footwork at charity gala

If you’ve ever hoped to see a CEO attempt the cha cha, you’ll have your chance a few Saturdays from now.

And don’t worry, it’s all for a good cause – beyond entertainment.

The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel will host the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dancing with the Stars-themed gala on April 5.

Here are a few of the Baltimore-area businesspeople, chosen for their community leadership, who are scheduled to compete:

  • Dr. Majid Fotuhi of Life Bridge Health, Brain & Spine Institute, and wife Bita
  • Heather Keller, nurse, yoga instructor and one of Baltimore magazine’s 2008 top singles
  • Samuel Ross, M.D., CEO of Bon Secours Health System, and wife Carolyn
  • Diane Lyn, co-host of 101.9 Lite FM’s Baltimore’s Morning Show

The dancers will take lessons prior to the event, and will have the choice of performing a Latin or ballroom number.

They can win trophies, of course, but the most prized reward: online votes from friends, family and colleagues, which cost one dollar each and benefit the association. Last year online votes totaled $88,000. At the time of this post, just over $2,600 was raised.

If you’d like to see the spectacle up close, tickets are $300 per person and corporate sponsorships are available.