Bucks County Races Offer Fitness and Fun Throughout the Year

Bucks County in Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful and history-rich places to run, hike, or bike in the country. Luckily, local organizations and communities here host a variety of themed runs and walks throughout the year, ranging from easy flat courses that welcome first-timers, all the way to endurance-challenging triathlons.  

Mark your calendar for this abundance of fun events and experience the warmth of community participation, the thrill of competition, and often the added satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause.  

Here are only a few of the region’s signature seasonal events for runners, walkers, and triathletes: 

  1. 9/11 Heroes Run 

The 9/11 Heroes Run in Doylestown happens every year on or around September 11. It is designed to honor the many selfless acts of service by first responders, military personnel, and civilians whose sacrifices saved lives during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A 5K race welcomes runners and walkers of all abilities and is one of about 90 Heroes Run events worldwide. Each year, a total of about 60,000 people participate.  

The Travis Manion Foundation sponsors the 9/11 Heroes Run series. First Lieutenant Travis Manion was killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2007. But he saved every other member of his patrol when he deliberately drew enemy sniper fire away from them. The foundation named in his honor works to inspire future generations of Americans to help create a better world through service to others, with the 9/11 Heroes Run as its central commitment. Doylestown was the location of the first Heroes Run 13 years ago.  

  1. Peace Valley Fall Duathlon 

The Peace Valley Duathlon typically takes place in late September or early October, offering an exciting combination of running and cycling. It includes both longer and short duathlons for adults and a Kids Rock Duathlon for ages 6 to 15. Adults can also participate in the two- or three-member Short Race Team or Long Race Team events. Participants begin at Sailor’s Point Boat Launch at Lake Galena in Peace Valley Park—a starting point that allows them to enjoy some of the most scenic routes in Bucks County.  

Peace Valley Park also offers a duathlon event in the spring. Both events are highly accessible and beginner-friendly. Organizers urge early registration, since the limited number of slots tend to sell out fast.  

  1. Bridge to Bridge Run  

Bucks County’s Bridge to Bridge (B2B) Run and Relay is another fall event, and this one starts and finishes at the Tinicum Park Towpath in the village of Upper Black Eddy. Teams of four to seven participants, approved in advance by the Bucks County Roadrunners (BCRR) organization, take on the scenic, 51-mile circuit. The relay runs across two of the region’s famous historic bridges, Centre Bridge and Frenchtown Bridge.  

The BCRR group sponsors a number of other outdoor events, welcoming runners and enthusiasts of all skill and experience levels.  

  1. Yes You Can 5K 

The historic borough of Yardley, founded in the 17th century and nestled against the Delaware River, sponsors the annual Yes You Can 5K run in the spring. The event has a true community feel, beginning at Pennsbury Middle School and winding through several neighborhoods and another local school. The chip-timed race offers a flat course accessible to participants of all abilities, and welcomes walkers as well.  

For its 2022 incarnation, the Yes You Can race will be a hybrid event, offering two options: Runners can race the pre-set course in person on April 24, or race their own routes on their own time between April 16 and 24. As organizers put it, the event is all about “building confidence, building community.”  

  1. YMCA Bucks County Strong 5K 

Also in spring, the YMCA Bucks County Strong 5K gathers the community in Doylestown for another popular, family-friendly race starting at the Central Bucks West High School campus and finishing at the school’s stadium. While this event went virtual in 2021, organizers have planned a traditional in-person run for May 15, 2022.  

Proceeds from the event will assist the YMCA of Bucks County Operation Compassion Recovery program. Started as a targeted response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Compassion assists families experiencing food insecurity, medical and mental health challenges, financial difficulties, and other issues. 

  1. Steelman Racing Triathlon  

The Steelman Racing Triathlon is an August event held in Quakertown. Gearing up for its 18th year in 2022, the Olympic-style triathlon is open to new and experienced triathletes alike. It includes a high school component with the Pennsylvania State Championship Race.  

The triathlon starts and concludes at Lake Nockamixon State Park, home to some lovely running and hiking trails, prime picnicking spots, and opportunities for biking, sailing, hunting, fishing, and numerous other sports. Participants swim the lake, bike through a closed course along the area’s rolling hill country, and run a tree-shaded route on newly paved roadways that skirt the lake.  

In addition to the main Olympic-style triathlon, the Steelman series in Bucks County includes other events such as sprints, relays, and races with aquabike components.  

Revealing the Powerful and Revolutionary Promise of the Kotter Change Model 

“No matter how you look at it, the world continues to change—faster.” That’s one of the quotes prominently displayed on the website of Dr. John Kotter’s eponymous consulting firm. His is one of the world’s most prominent companies helping all types of organizations navigate the change that continues to accelerate the pace of our personal and professional lives. 

The Kotter Change Model offers business and nonprofit leaders a detailed yet accessible framework for leading any type of organizational change. Based on Kotter’s decades of experience as a professor at Harvard Business School, an entrepreneur, and a consultant, the Kotter 8-Step Process for Leading Change breaks down like this:

Step 1: Establishing Urgency

Establishing a sense of urgency comes first, the essential initial spur toward constructive action.

Step 2: Building a Coalition

Second, a leader needs to assemble what Kotter calls “a guiding coalition.” This group of key influencers, selected from within an organization, will be the driving force supporting that sense of urgency and driving creative solutions going forward.

Step 3: Crafting a Strategic Vision

The third step on Kotter’s list is the formation of a strategic vision and associated initiatives. Kotter wants us to build a very specific playbook delineating our organization-specific vision for the future, built on critical analysis of what did and did not work in the past. And he wants to see this vision anchored to defined initiatives that will help it become reality. 

Step 4: Recruiting Volunteers

The fourth goal is to bring an entire volunteer army on board. That means getting people excited, motivated, and mobilized at every tier of an organization. These aren’t “volunteers” in the sense that they are unpaid cheerleaders for your organization.

They are people, again, drawn from within your own ranks whose enthusiasm for your change mission will help them gather important information, contribute to consensus-building, and keep themselves and one another engaged and on target. 

Step 5: Eliminating Barriers

This is one of the most crucial components of the change process, because it is a necessary condition for allowing the activities in the other steps to develop properly. You’ll need to focus on removing any top-down organizational practices that hamper problem-solving and the search for the best solutions.

A big part of this fifth step also involves de-siloing your organization. You must open up the playing field for change-oriented work to go on regardless of individuals’ job titles or the names of their departments or teams. 

Step 6: Producing Short-Term Wins

Demonstrating a capacity to produce short-term wins is another major step. As the leader, it’s your job to keep a project’s energy levels high, to support your teams through cycles of waxing and waning enthusiasm, as well as through periods of both success and failure.

Your team needs to be able to step back occasionally and enjoy the smaller victories along the way to the ultimate goal. This will build morale over the long term. It will also foster enthusiasm for lengthy projects.

Step 7: Sustaining Momentum

But after the first few successes, what then? Kotter’s seventh step involves sustaining the acceleration you’ve built up. At this point, you can expect new complexities to emerge, complicating your team’s ability to deliver on specific tasks and overall strategy. You’ll need to help sustain one more big push toward your goal.

Here’s where you spend some of the good-will capital and credibility you’ve gained over previous time invested in your change project. Look for ways to keep improving the work you and your team are doing. And, in Kotter’s words, stay “relentless” in your iteration of one change after another until your vision has been achieved. 

Step 8: Implementing Change

In Kotter’s last step, change has not only become a reality, it has become part of your organizational DNA. This is the time to consolidate and create long-lasting culture change. You’ll be better able to do this if you communicate to your team the explicit linkages between their new ways of thinking and working and their ongoing and future success.

This is also a time to broadcast your success to external stakeholders and the public. Enjoy the acclaim you and your team have earned, even as you keep your eye on opportunities for further change that your organization will need to stay both competitive and relevant. 

A Three-Step Precursor Model

Kotter’s change model fleshes out an earlier one designed by social psychologist Kurt Lewin, who posited a three-step schematic. He first asked leaders to “unfreeze” their organizational inertia by clearly communicating the need for change. Because the natural tendency of many people is to be resistant to change, Lewin advised leaders to emphasize the ways in which their organizations had “frozen” into unproductive behaviors that were hindering further growth.

In Lewin’s model, an organization next begins the “change” or “movement” phase, as it transforms itself into a new way of being. This second step focuses on implementation, while acknowledging the lingering fears that some in an organization may have, especially as vision becomes reality. Preparing teams for their new reality will involve still more communication, dialogue, and support. 

The third step for Lewin is called “refreezing.” This is, of course, analogous to Kotter’s eighth step of consolidation. It makes reference to the same program of institutionalizing the desired change through positive reinforcement and celebration of effort. 

Helping Build 21st Century Organizations

Kotter’s model has drawn widespread praise for the amount of detail it packs into an easy-to-understand framework. Organizations and other consultancies worldwide have adapted its premises to facilitate positive changes of all kinds. It has been used to guide structural improvements and redeployments of resources, to initiate mission-critical conversations with employees engaged in every type of work, and to improve and diversify internal cultures in line with contemporary perspectives and goals. 

The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge – Backdoor to Unexpected Treasure

If you live in Delaware, the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, or southern New Jersey, you have the opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful, relaxing, hikeable and bikeable wildlife refuges in the country—all near a major city center. 

Situated along the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware, the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge offers you an enriching experience amidst an environment filled with a diverse array of animals, birds, fish, and plants. Here’s what you need to know about this amazing urban wilderness.

Wildlife

Beavers, otters, turtles, ducks, red-winged blackbirds, birds of prey, and more make up the wildlife population of the refuge. Bright green leaves, tall grasses, and cattail-encircled ponds line the trails that traverse the freshwater tidal ecosystem. You can catch a glimpse of the Wilmington skyline through all the green, but it—and the sound of the occasional truck barreling along the nearby I-95—barely registers. 

Sturdy footbridges and boardwalks pass over the marshes and bodies of water, and you can also just enjoy strolling along the riverfront. A skein of Canada geese might be flying overhead, on their way to quiet nesting grounds. This is one of only a few urban wildlife sanctuaries in the United States, and it remains a place of quiet beauty, seemingly created just to bring you into closer contact with nature, and with your own thoughts. 

The late 1990s saw the start of a large-scale program designed to restore much of the lost marshlands of the region. Since then, wild creatures whose habitats had previously been threatened by encroaching human development have been able to flourish within the refuge. Related restoration work over the years has established nesting structures for bald eagles, ospreys, and other birds, built out a trail network, redirected past water channels to their original configurations, and provided greater stability to the shoreline tidal ecosystem.

Amenities

A boardwalk connects one end of the wildlife refuge with the Wilmington Riverwalk trail, which provides a scenery-filled backdrop for walkers, runners, and cyclists along the Christina River.

Nearby is the DuPont Environmental Education Center. The Delaware Nature Society runs the center, providing a wealth of free activities and opportunities to learn more about local biodiversity. The Environmental Education Center also makes bicycle rentals available. 

Programming in the refuge includes instruction in canoeing, classes in photography, river cruises, and much more. Next to the center is an additional 10 acres of botanic gardens. 

Trail

Another 2,300-foot-long boardwalk section leads west along the border of the refuge, and then turns south to become the 5.5-mile Jack A. Markell Trail, which follows the tracks of an old industrial railroad. The trail winds over a largely flat terrain, providing a comfortable ramble, ride, skate, or rollerblade run from the Riverwalk through the wetlands and all the way to the city of New Castle.

For hikers and cyclists, it’s a breeze. This trail received a ranking as one of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “Top 10 Trails in Delaware” for 2021, and it is a consistent local favorite overall. 

The Markell Trail also gets glowing social media reviews from visitors, who have praised its smooth, easy stretch, beautiful views that include the occasional deer sighting, and even the rollercoaster-like experience of zipping over its boardwalk on a skateboard.

History

Governor of Delaware from 1969 to 1973, Russell W. Peterson (1916 – 2011) was also one of the foremost environmentalists of his day. Today, the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge serves as a fitting and lasting memorial to his work. 

Peterson was originally a research chemist with DuPont. He served as chairman of President Richard Nixon’s Council on Environmental Quality, chairman of the Center on the Long-Term Biological Consequences of Nuclear War, and president of both the National Audubon Society and the International Council for Bird Preservation.

As governor, Peterson was perhaps the central driving force behind passage of the 1971 Delaware Coastal Zone Act. This legislation blocked any new build-out of heavy industry along more than 100 miles of coastline stretching along the Christina River and Delaware Bay, and along the waters of the state’s barrier islands.

It was likely his strong support for this legislation, narrowly passed after rancorous political infighting, that cost Peterson any chance at future elected office. But the Coastal Zone Act went on to form a basis for other states’ efforts to protect their ecologically sensitive lands, and for similar legislation at the federal level. 

Reclaiming the marshlands south of Wilmington was a long-time dream of Governor Peterson, one that he spent much of his later life working to make a reality. 

Some of the Best Tips for Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists

Fully three-quarters of Millennials (those born between about 1981 and 1995) made charitable contributions in 2020, whether these went to traditional nonprofit organizations or to people in their own circles of family and friends hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not all of these gifts may be tax deductible, but that likely is not necessarily the point or even a significantly motivating factor. And about half of this age group continues to make regular donations.

Recent surveys show that about 44 percent of the youngest adults, those in Generation Z (the “Zoomers” born after about 1996), make regular charitable donations. The average annual gifts of people in this age group is in the hundreds of dollars.

Yet dollar amounts are hardly the final word on the subject. The resurgence among Millennials and Zoomers of a passion for giving is both notable and likely a harbinger of things to come. 

An Attitudinal Shift

It’s this cohort of young adults that is poised to bring about a generational shift in how we think about and administer philanthropy. Their engagement in the process is crucial to philanthropy’s future. 

For one thing, extremely high net-worth individuals have often used philanthropy as an engine for obtaining tax advantages, even as many of their charitable dollars remain tied up in funds and out of circulation. [AB1] 

While experts note the very real and long-lasting contributions that these—usually older—philanthropists continue to make, many believe their charitable dollars could be doing much more. Some experts and ethicists argue that the decision-making power these super-wealthy donors hold could be more widely dispersed and shared, rather than staying concentrated in only a few hands. 

A way to bend the arc could involve placing greater emphasis on shaping the giving of younger, emnerging philanthropists. As a group, they may not yet have the massive monetary clout that their older counterparts do, but they bring many other desirable qualities to the table as volunteers, donors, and the rising generation of major philanthropists. 

Sharing Skills, Seeking Justice, Promoting Connection

Skills-based volunteering—in which individuals leverage their professional skills on behalf of nonprofit organizations—has become a growing trend among Millennials and Zoomers. These generations also focus on becoming closely involved with the entire process of their philanthropy and their desire to personally follow its results. 

Every philanthropist is, of course, a unique individual, with distinct perspectives, reasons for giving, and ideals. Nonprofit leaders are learning to reach out and get to know current and potential Millennial and Gen Z donors at the person-to-person level. In particular, they are engaging with this generation’s investment in issues related to diversity, racial justice, and inclusion. 

In addition, they are learning to bring young philanthropists on board by communicating a sense of mission and purpose that will allow these donors to become directly engaged.

Personally-Driven Community Activism

This generation of new donors has also been distinctively marked by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have found themselves drawn to personal stories. Perhaps as a result, they have been moved to give as a way of promoting social justice addressing identified needs of marginalized people.

They have also joined giving networks and mutual aid groups, both formally and informally structured, and they have stepped up to offer informal but highly effective social support to elders and other vulnerable people among their families and friends. In this respect, crowdfunding efforts have also met with notable success among this age group. In 2018, almost half of Millennials surveyed reported contributing to a crowdfunding campaign. 

As nonprofits across the country have worked harder to connect themselves with the goals of their younger donors, they have begun to build leadership development programs geared to their needs. They have also begun to develop investment vehicles that enhance their unique giving potential. As these forward-looking nonprofits have discovered, it doesn’t take a multi-millionaire to be an effective philanthropist at the community level. 

Draw Them in, Meet Them Where They Are, Build Ties

Best practices for engaging Millennial and Gen Z donors include leveraging the power of social media platforms and technology, one of this group’s preferred means of communication. A recent survey showed almost 60 percent of Zoomers making contributions did so after being engaged by a social media campaign. Take advantage of emerging social media capabilities, including Reels and Stories. 

Additionally, make sure that any communications you put out are easily accessible on mobile devices. Make it easy, quick, and seamless to give via mobile and social platforms.

Keep communications and requests concise and to the point, while remaining authentic and transparent. Clearly state a particular problem to be solved and the anticipated or desired tangible outcomes. Show respect and treat young donors as full equals and partners in your work. And whatever medium you use, put storytelling front and center as a means of enhancing personal engagement. 

Where appropriate and mission-alligned, put gender equality, racial and social justice, and human rights generally front-and-center in your organization and in your donor recruitment and retention materials. And offer multiple opportunities to get involved and to make personal connections within your organization. You can attract significant numbers of Millennial and Gen Z donors willing to be social media and public cheerleaders for your cause by giving them the opportunity to become part of your essential long-term donor base and leadership.