Challenge Accepted: Rick Steele Runs in World Marathon Challenge for Soles4Souls

Where in the world isn’t the real question. Why in the world anyone would run 7 marathons in 7 days on each of the world’s 7 continents, is.

Seriously. Do you know how many miles that is?

183.

And how long you have to finish all seven marathons (26.2 miles each)?

168 hours, or seven consecutive days.

And how much travel time it takes to get to each race site in between?

Overall, about 68 hours on a plane between February 6 and February 12, starting in Antarctica, ending in North America (in Miami, FL) with five other races in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America along the way.

So I ask again: Why on earth would anyone put themselves through that?

The answer is simple.

It’s all for a good cause.

That’s why SelectBlinds.com co-founder, philanthropist, extreme adventurer and adrenaline addict Rick Steele is undertaking perhaps the biggest challenge (besides starting a $1 billion business in 30 days, but that’s another story) of his life.

So far.

Rick is always looking for ways to marry his passion for philanthropy and giving back to his pursuit of personal excellence through extreme physical challenges like the 2020 World Marathon Challenge. And this event, which he learned about through a friend who completed it a few years ago, was a natural fit to go along with a personal goal he set last year of raising $1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “B”) for charities during his lifetime.

“I always look for the next impossible thing to see if I can do it,” explains the 12-time Iron Man finisher. And while he’s run many marathons as part of those events, along with other ultra endurance runs, he’s never run “just a marathon.”

12 time Iron Man Rick Steele
12-time Iron Man Rick Steele

Well, this isn’t exactly “just a marathon” either. This is seven marathons. In a row. Some starting with only a mere 18 hours between them. Rick’s goal? To finish each one in under four hours. “Under five, definitely,” he says with confidence. Besides running in temperatures ranging from -10 to over 80 degrees, he anticipates his biggest challenge will be “not knowing how sore I’ll be from race to race.”

If completing all seven marathons doesn’t seem impossible enough, he’s also challenging himself to raise $20,000 for 20,000 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, his philanthropic partner in the race and the inspiration for Rick’s fundraising effort.

Soles4Souls is a non-profit social enterprise based in Nashville, Tennessee.  It’s mission? To disrupt the cycle of poverty for people worldwide. Founded by partners who share Rick’s own entrepreneurial spirit, it started with the simple philosophy that everyone deserves a good pair of shoes and now provides  shoes, clothing, jobs and most of all, hope, to help millions in need get back on their feet.

Dirty Feet in Need of New Shoes

“While I’m really looking forward to experiencing the race itself, I’m even more excited about the opportunity to support and have an impact on the  work done by this amazing group,” Rick says. “They’re literally improving and changing lives every day. It’s kinda crazy what a difference a simple pair of shoes can make in someone’s life.”

“It’s serendipitous, really. I mean, I couldn’t be competing in this worldwide event without running shoes, and I’m running for an international organization that has so far provided 35 million pairs of shoes throughout 127 countries to those who have none. And, unfortunately, the need keeps growing greater. So that’s a pretty powerful reason to do this and an awesome cause to contribute to.”

Those of us at Select Blinds think so, too. That’s why for every order we get from February 6-12, we’re donating two new pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. If you have a pair to spare, find out how you can donate, too. And if you’re still wondering where in the world Rick is, follow him here during the World Marathon Challenge.

Challenge accepted.

Happy Kids Dance with New Shoes from Soles4Souls
 

Donating to Hurricane Relief Orgs: How You Can Help

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

It’s a time of unprecedented need. As Houston, southeast Texas and Louisiana continue to recover from #HurricaneHarvey, Florida is facing a direct hit from #HurricaneIrma. Our thoughts and prayers are with family, friends and everyone in Irma’s path this weekend. Also want to send out a big “THANK YOU!” to all of the first response teams, rescue workers, military, law enforcement and volunteers, who are at the ready to assist those in need. They’re all going to need our help, so as Florida prepares, you can, too.

While the urge to donate clothes and other supplies is natural, the best way to contribute during times of disaster, charities and philanthropy experts say, is to donate money. And donating directly through a website gets money to a charity faster than a text donation, even though the text might seem easier. As we saw in the aftermath of Harvey and other disasters, while appreciated, material donations can cause unintended logistical complications for assisting agencies. To make sure any donation you make gets to where and those who need it, check out Charity Navigator first. Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that evaluates charities using a numbers-based rating system to ensure that organizations distribute donations they receive as they have promised to.

“We send out a list to organizations that we know will be in the area and they fill out a disaster response survey,” Sara Nason, the company’s communications manager, told ABC News. Charity Navigator requires that organizations must publicly say they have a planned response, along with a specific designation for relief efforts and how they are going to use the money.

According to ABC News, as of Friday morning, 15 charities have been approved by Charity Navigator as highly-rated organizations that will allocate funds to Hurricane Irma relief and provide assistance to the communities affected:

Catholic Relief Services

American Red Cross

Direct Relief

Hope for Haiti

Heart to Heart International

Save the Children

DonorsChoose.org

Water Mission

Oxfam America

GlobalGiving

Americares

MedShare

UNICEF USA

International Relief Teams

Samaritan’s Purse

In addition to broader based relief organizations, think, too, about donating to those who need special assistance, including support for people with disabilities, the homeless, the elderly, displaced children, and animals. Local food banks can also use financial donations to ensure they can provide needed food and water in affected areas.

Another way to help is following your social media feeds to see where the greatest needs are in your area. We all heard and read about the amazing — and immediate — impact the posts of so many individuals made, and how those connections made such a huge difference in helping those in need following Harvey.

Donations and assistance are still needed, too, for those recovering from #HurricaneHarvey. The following are just a few of the many sites you can donate to (Charity Navigator approved):

Samaritans Purse: https://goo.gl/itXSTm

American Red Cross: https://goo.gl/sD6C6T

Save the Children: https://goo.gl/jRRKsU

Be safe, be smart, and thank you for anything you can do to help!

Be the change that the world needs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Great Gazebo Designs to Grace Your Backyard

This post is inspired by my friend Melody. I love visiting her beautiful home where she’s created a backyard oasis that regularly beckons friends and family alike. At the heart of it is a gorgeous gazebo, under which we’ve spent many evenings sipping wine and solving all the world’s problems. By definition a gazebo is a free-standing structure with a proper peaked roof and open framework. From the simple to the sublime, they provide a unique area to decorate and express yourself with almost unlimited design possibilities.

It’s easy to go from pre-fab to fabulous by adding your own touches to manufactured and already assembled gazebos (check out Wayfair, Walmart, Lowe’s, Target and more). If you’re a real DIYer, you can build your own from the ground up using gazebo-in-a-box kits. Whether you’re looking to create an outdoor party place or personal refuge and meditation space, here’s a great guide to getting started on your own to-die-for designs.

Adding some details to prefabricated items makes all the difference.

My friend Melody pumped up the appeal of the patio and outdoor grill with a simple prefabricated gazebo frame that she added lights, a chandelier and cozy chiminea to to create her own charming outdoor bistro. (Photo courtesy of Melody Tune)

Gazebos create an intimate space.

This super simple gazebo can be used almost anywhere and personalized with your own unique design touches. Bamboo shades would make a great accent!

Add some drapes to an existing gazebo.

Drapes add a touch of drama and elegance and are an easy way to customize an ordinary gazebo. Check out some of the cool styles and patterns we offer here.

A gazebo can add some privacy to your space.

Ahh! Talk about a soothing sanctuary. Gazebos make great hot tub and spa enclosures.

Adding outdoor solar shades will enhance your gazebo

You could easily add exterior solar shades here to keep cool and shaded in the summer.

The Perfect Window Coverings for Summer

There are a lot of great, easy ways to prepare your home for summer. You can swap out throw pillows, change your bedding to lighter fabrics, and switching your area rugs to lighter, brighter ones. But there’s another change you can make for summer that can update your home’s look and even save you money. It all comes down to your window coverings. With the right choice in window coverings, you can save money each month and have a more comfortable home interior all summer long. So how do you know which window coverings are right for your home? To make the selection easier, we’ve broken it down for you.

Cellular Shades

rsz_summer_cellular_shade

Also called honeycomb shades, cellular shades add another layer of insulation to keep the heat outside where it belongs. The honeycomb structure not only keeps the heat from coming in, but it also filters or blacks out the natural light, which only blocks out even more heat. If you don’t like the idea of blacking out the majority of light, you can still have natural light and a more comfortable home. That’s the beauty of cellular shades. You can have the best of both worlds.

Pleated Shades

rsz_summer_pleated_shades

Pleated shades give you the look of cellular shades, but with a little less insulation. If you live in a location that doesn’t get too warm in the summer, these are the perfect option. They still provide insulation, so don’t feel as though you’re missing out by choosing pleated shades. They look great and they serve their purpose.

Solar Shades

rsz_summer_solar_shade

One of the many benefits of solar shades during the summer is that you can still have your view outside, even with your shades drawn. It also blocks harmful UV rays and it will protect your furniture from sun damage and unnecessary fading. Or, you always have the option to choose blackout solar shades, which would be perfect in bedrooms and media rooms.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for summer functionality. And now you don’t have to. Stay cool, comfortable, and stylish this summer.

 

Charlene Jimenez

SelectBlinds Supports Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eradicating poverty houses and helping to create affordable, simple, and quality homes for those in need. They’ve helped people in 74 different countries, and counting.

SelectBlinds has had a wonderful opportunity to help Habitat for Humanity in their mission. Because of our guarantee, customers send back their custom blinds and shades because they measured incorrectly or the color wasn’t what they wanted. Here at SelectBlinds, we guarantee a product that’s custom-made. In an effort to give back to the community and for our products to find a home, we donate our returned products to Habitat for Humanity. It has given us a new way to help those who need it most.

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore sells our donated products to the public if they can’t fit them into a home. The money they earn they put back into their original mission: to provide affordable and safe homes. This also keeps all these returned products out of landfills.

We’re honored to be able to help Habitat for Humanity the way we have, and we’re happy that it has made a difference. In 2013 alone, Habitat for Humanity has helped 124,946 families.

To learn more, watch this video!

We Get by with a Little Help from our Friends…

Please help our friends over at the Art Feeds charity by voting for them to receive the American Giving Awards grant. Hurry because the voting ends on December 4th.

Art Feeds is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that conducts mobile programs within schools and after school programs on a consistent basis with over 2600 elementary students who have undergone trauma and overcome obstacles in Joplin, MO.

Vote Here ♥ —> https://www.facebook.com/ChaseCommunityGiving/app_349872001764046?cv=3&app_data=location|/charity/view/id/11

Here is what they would do with the grant money:

Art Feeds is up to win the American Giving Awards and a $1MM grant. To us, this means 30,000 children. Currently, Art Feeds reaches 2600 children on a weekly basis with free therapeutic art and creative education programs. We are based out of Joplin, MO, which was ripped apart by an EF5 tornado leaving 65% of Joplin destroyed. Our programs are mobile and move into the school to help the students create and heal past the trauma they have faced constantly, for the long term. $1MM would allow Art Feeds to reach every child in Joplin- 5,000 students weekly. Art Feeds would then expand the model into 4 new communities with Art Feeds Chapters to help hurting children create, grow and heal. The grant would allow us to impact over 30,000 children in communities worldwide in the next 2 years.