Laura Barber, co-founder of the 4K 4Charity Fun Run series, tells TVBEurope about the inspiration behind the event and what runners can expect at this year’s IBC.
How did the initiative first come about?
The inspiration for the 4K 4Charity Fun Run Series was a combination of the big headline for the global media industry in 2014 – 4K Ultra HD – and the late Sam Blackman’s commitment to making change for those underrepresented in the tech industry and our communities. During a team meeting early in 2014, I mused about putting on a 4K run. Of course Sam, who was the co-founder and CEO of AWS Elemental (Elemental Technologies), took that to the next level by incorporating giving back! He knew this would be a fun, unique and healthy alternative to traditional tradeshow networking. More importantly, he saw this as a super-efficient way to raise funds for non-profits focused on increased diversity and inclusion in tech and to close the gap. That’s the key: turning the desire for change into meaningful action for those underrepresented in our industry and marginalised by our society. Sam was all about that.
Who can take the plaudits for coming up with the gloriously industry-relevant name?
All credit due to Keith Wymbs, former AWS Elemental chief marketing officer. He has a way with words!
What was the initial response from the industry in supporting the campaign?
Curiosity, excitement, and then demand for more. With a guiding mantra that a small distance can make a big impact, the first 4km running and walking event exceeded all expectations. Supporters really identified with the cause, and the fact that 100 per cent of individual registration fees go directly to our designated non-profits. IBC is where this all began, with the first run taking place at the show in Amsterdam in 2014. The first 4K 4C attracted the support of nearly 250 individuals, and raised more than $28,000 in donations.
The run has become such a fixture at IBC and NAB, which is a testament to both the marvellous and selfless work you have put in, and also the industry’s generosity: did you ever foresee the campaign being so well supported by our industry community?
I keep thinking about that line from the Field of Dreams movie: “If you build it, they will come.” The fact that the 4K 4C has become the official run and community engagement activity for IBC, NAB and SMPTE’s Annual Tech Conference is a testament to the marvellous and selfless nature of the thousands of people across our industry who have stepped up to make change.
You must feel a great sense of pride at how it has developed?
What I feel is deep appreciation. On behalf of the 4K 4C delivery team, it’s an honour to support our industry and to embolden everyone’s efforts to enrich our communities through increased equity.
It’s particularly exciting to see 4K 4C proceeds at work to close the gap and open up learning opportunities and new paths for success for underrepresented youth. 4K 4C supporters are at work supporting these young people well beyond the finish line of each run. By taking action, they help high schoolers learn to code at Portland, Oregon’s Rosemary Anderson High School; inspire girls and families to identify community problems and create tech and engineering solutions thanks to Technovation; and students in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programme who need help covering transportation or living expenses. The support from sponsors and individuals has been mind-blowing and humbling. It’s so inspiring to see all those people, so happy and relaxed, lined up at the starting line early in the morning in cities around the world – and to hear how the 4K 4C has supported personal goals, professional connections, and giving back.
Turning to the future, where would you like to see the initiative grow from here?
Since 2014, more than 10,000 industry professionals have turned out to support various 4K 4Charity Fun Run events. Our rough calculation is that they’ve taken approximately 46 million steps to raise more than $1 million in overall proceeds for non-profits looking to increase equity in the technology and media and entertainment sectors. Every single person who supports this event is making a difference. Now we have to figure out a smart compression technique taking half the steps to get to the next million-dollar milestone.
Now the question is scale: how can we do more? Much more. Currently, fewer than two per cent of the attendees at NAB, IBC and SMPTE get involved. Can you imagine the impact we could have if 10, 20, even 50 per cent of show attendees committed their support? That’s where we need to get. Please encourage your colleagues and friends across the industry to register their support. Handy tip: public donations are also accepted from anyone unable to attend the event; visit the registration website and select the ‘Donation Only’ option to make a contribution.
Finally, for anyone that hasn’t participated before – how do they get involved?
We hope that as many people as possible will join us for the IBC2019 event, raising money for an excellent cause and taking this unusual networking opportunity to focus on a future in media technology that is more equal, more inclusive and more diverse. Join us on Saturday 14th September at 7:30am at Amstelpark in Amsterdam – register at https://4k4charity.com/ibc. Unable to attend, but still want to show your support? Please choose ‘Donation Only’ during registration. Enabling supporters to have the most impact possible, the 4K 4Charity Fun Run donates 100 per cent of individual contributions to designated non-profit beneficiaries. Anyone who is interested in sponsoring any of our 4K 4Charity Fun Runs in the future – contact the sponsorship manager: firstname.lastname@example.org.