September 11, 2013 – Columbus, OH - Seventeen obstacle/mud runs are scheduled in Ohio on Trifind.com, a website which touts itself as “The World's Largest Triathlon Calendar”. Clearly the popularity of such events has dramatically increased, and with it come increased risks beyond strained muscles and clothes which may never be clean again.
To actively support a cause through events is admirable. It takes physical, financial and often emotional preparation. Many participate in memory of loved ones or because the cause is dear to them. But in the crowded field of runs, walks and obstacle events, Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio urges participants to lend their support wisely.
“Fundraising events are operated by both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Therefore, we urge supporters to research any organization before making a payment or submitting personal information,” said Joan Coughlin, Vice President BBB serving Central Ohio. "Ask yourself if you really want to enroll with a for-profit organization, one that may or may not donate some or all of the proceeds to a charity, rather than choosing a fundraiser directly owned and operated by a charity.”
Great American Mud Run located in Reston, VA, canceled their Great American Mud Run’s in Logan and Columbus, Ohio. Ohio residents who had enrolled and paid for an October event reported being notified that the event had been cancelled. The company advised participants that the company does not provide refunds for any reason and that it was unable to do so in this case. The company advised that it lacked staff to respond to inquiries and advised participants to check with their credit card company. No phone number was listed on the company web site, and the site itself was no longer available by evening of September 10. The listed address for the company appears to be that of a UPS mail handling service and the actual location of the company is not yet known.
The Great American Mud Run event was to take place supporting a charity called “Wounded Wear” which provides free clothing and modifications for combat wounded veterans and to raise national awareness of their sacrifice. Wounded Wear’s CEO, Jason Redman, told BBB they partnered twice with the Great American Mud Run successfully in Virginia. They learned of the cancellation of the Mud Run in Tennessee a couple of months ago, and were not surprised to learn the Ohio events have also been cancelled.
“I was disappointed by GAMR’s email notifying participants the event was canceled and they would not be refunding registration fees, reported Redman. “Wounded Wear cannot get peoples’ registration fees back, but they are willing to refund the donation portion.”
Mud Run hustlers were to compete in a muddy obstacle course that included the “world’s tallest mudslide”, nets, wall climbs, tunnels and low crawls. Consumers who contacted BBB said they received an email on September 9 from Great American Mud Run advising them the mud run had been cancelled and “due to legal constraints outside of our control” they would be unable to issue refunds.
Consumers are not the only ones disappointed by the cancellation. BBB spoke to William Kaeppner of Kaeppner’s Woods where the Mud Run was to be held in Logan, Ohio.
“I had reserved the woods for the event for months, and had contracted with other companies to assemble and disassemble the event.” He said. “I did receive a deposit, but feel badly for the people who had been looking forward to making muddy memories.”
If you or a friend were registered for the Great American Mud Run, BBB advises you contact your credit card company to dispute the charges.
Thinking about participating in a walk, run or obstacle event for charity? BBB offers a few tips to guide you when choosing an organization:
• Verify charity status with the IRS, Ohio Secretary of State and BBB Business Reviews for information on local and national charities.
• Be suspicious of vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. How exactly are the donations used? What percentage of money raised will go to the specified charity if the event is owned or produced by a for-profit business. Additional information to assist donors can be found through BBB and BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
• You may read heartwarming stories of people who have been helped by the workings of the cause you wish to support, but do your research first.
• Pay by credit card when possible, so you can dispute the charges if a problem occurs. Resist the urge to pre-pay registration fees many months or even a year in advance, especially when the charity does not collect the fees.
For more information, please visit www.bbb.org. For more consumer news and tips follow BBB on Facebook and Twitter.