Perfectly Goofy

Runner, volunteer joins elite group
At 33, Henrico resident April Engram is presumably well past the age of fascination with Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

But she is mighty pumped up, just the same, about the recent acquisition of some decorative accessories bearing the likenesses of the Disney trio.

The most coveted of the three award medals attests to her success at completing what’s known as “The Goofy.” And her efforts to acquire it were anything but Mickey-Mouse.

To earn all three medals, Engram participated in a two-day, 39.3-mile adventure held in January at the Disney resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

After finishing a half marathon on Saturday, she followed it with a marathon on Sunday – otherwise known as the Race and a Half Challenge. Runners who finished both the Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse races within the pacing requirements took home the Goofy medal in addition to their finisher medals from the other races.

But that’s not all Engram brought home.

By participating in The Goofy as part of a group of runners from the Comfort Zone Camp’s Grief Relief Team, Engram helped to raise more than $40,000 to send grieving kids to camp.

The nonprofit bereavement camp, offered free to children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver, includes confidence-building programs and age-based support groups that ease emotional isolation and help campers heal. An estimated $500 apiece is needed to send the children, who range in age from
seven to 17, to a session of camp.

A member of the Greater Richmond Chorus, Engram began volunteering with Comfort Zone Camp (CZC) almost six years ago after a few chorus friends suggested she look into it.

“I was fairly new to Richmond at the time,” says Engram, “and wanted to get involved with something in the community. My friends thought that I had the perfect personality for camp, so I went to a volunteer training and a short while later was matched [with a camper].”

After several years of spending multiple weekends as Big Buddies to campers, Engram says, she and some other volunteers decided “to blend our loves of running and camp -- and run for the cause.”

While planning the trip to Florida, Engram scored another victory by securing several borrowed cars for the team volunteers to use during their weekend. Following a team discussion about transportation for the trip, Engram went online to do some research and learned of a car donation program through Avis.

“A gentleman at Avis,” she says, “generously offered up four SUV’s for the weekend at no charge to us. It was definitely a blessing.”

Engram, who works as a regulatory coordinator at VCU Massey Cancer Center, isn’t sure which athletic-event-slash-fundraiser is next on her agenda. But she is quick to point out that she is still a few dollars short of her Grief Relief goal, and that it’s not too late to give.

What’s more, it’s clear that she has found a volunteer home with Comfort Zone Camp, and that serving as a Big Buddy and “doing The Goofy” are only the beginning of her efforts on behalf of the charity.

“I drank the Kool-Aid, as we say,” admits Engram of her commitment to CZC. “And the rest is history.”

To help Engram meet her goal for the Grief Relief Team fundraiser, visit http://tinyurl.com/7yqpjwk. For details about CZC, visit http://www.comfortzonecamp.org.
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