Even so, Neighborhood Services Organization will stage its first-ever fundraiser in the group’s nearly 100-year history on Saturday by having participants dine on some of the metro’s tastiest morsels and then lumber, full-bellied, through the city streets.
“We want to attract fierce competitors, savvy eaters; we want everyone,” said Stacey Ninness, NSO executive director. “And we will have sick stops along the race, so it’ll be good.”
NSO provides health and housing services for homeless or those at risk of being homeless. Ninness said in 2010, NSO aided 72,000 in-need people.
Although the organization has continued working to help the disadvantaged since its 1920 inception, the wider public is still unaware of the good work it does.
“Nobody knows about us,” Ninness said. “We needed to do something that will make this great agency more visible, raise the awareness within the community.”
Rather than starting off the event with an ambitious goal for raising funds, Ninness said that the organization just wanted to test the waters to see the response. The eat-and-run idea came from Rusty Duncan, an NSO board member.
“Over each year, I’m sure it will evolve, but we didn’t want to start at the triathlon level,” Ninness said. “It’s not long-distance. It’s 1.3 miles, so it’s not too bad. I guess it’s easy for me to say that, because I’m not eating and running.”
Iguana was among the first groups to sign up to provide food for the event. Chef Ryan Parrott said the restaurant doesn’t spend a lot of money on advertising, and often looks for opportunities like these to join efforts with an organization in a way that is mutually beneficial.
“We can’t be so isolated that we only think about what’s happening inside our building,” Parrott said. “We are very concerned about what’s going on in our community, and that means reaching out to nonprofits and people in our community.”
Sara Sara Cupcakes, Kaiser’s American Bistro and Prairie Thunder Baking Co. will joining Iguana in challenging runners’ gastro-dexterity with a number of savory and robust dishes.
“There are a lot of competitions, a lot of runs organized and eating competitions, but having it combined is interesting,” Parrott said. “I don’t know that eating a spicy taco and running is a great idea, but it’ll certainly be fun to watch.”