“Check It Out! I Got A Sponsor For My Race!” A Wellness Media Mashup

Belated congratulations to our own Shaping Youth Nutrition MA, RD, and
ACSM Certified Health Fitness Correspondent Rebecca Scritchfield, (yes, those letters ALL matter, as she’s worked her tail off for ‘em!) for she just ran a very personal, very applaudable self-challenge on behalf of Diabetes Research and Education.

She’s inspired so many of us who have never put foot to pavement in a race, with a firsthand glimpse of training and triumph via her Facebook group of supporters, curb crew, and other media magic to feel a part of it all (like a text message every 5K to keep up with her!) as she successfully ran Sunday’s 26.2 mile Marine Corp Marathon through Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA (my old stompin’ grounds)

I wish I had known about the Plus3 (+3) Network in beta that I found at Health 2.0 last week because this mobile, GPS-enhanced social network pairs willing sponsors with worthy causes to form a very cool sense of community. Plus 3 Network enables corporate sponsors to team with individuals like Rebecca to partner as if they were “big guys” in a win-win wellness fundraising effort to champion change.

The model is basically, “your cause + our sponsor = rewards” —I’m likin’ this! Social network+teen and millennial wellness potential? Hmn! Plus 3 Network Founder and CEO Rick Sutton spoke on the Wellness 2.0 panel last week explaining how fitness and fundraising creates a consumer touchpoint to motivate, validate and literally turn “sweat equity into social currency.”

Since Diabetes Action Network is all about prevention and finding a cure (meaning, funding important grants and research NOT underwritten by drug companies!) this would’ve been a PERFECT pick to run the new Plus 3 Network site through the paces, and see how they select sponsors.

Diabetes Action.org lists a ton of diabetes resources, healthy recipes, and integrative actions for self care, it looks like it would be a perfect fit judging by the number of fitness, eco-outdoorsy, and bicycle brands I’m seeing on the site…

It’s not one of those “disease management/fund the marketing coffers” sites, it’s proactive and healing, so would probably blend quite well with the athletes and wannabe-fits on Plus 3 for goal-setting and community support.

Since Rebecca’s training blog functioned as a touchpoint for all of us to rally around her race, a site like Plus3 that’s DESIGNED to do just that could take these causes sooooooooo much further by offering social hubs to meet and connect with like-minded friends, leave messages of encouragement, and share goals and challenges using the platform itself to curb “globesity.” The personal aspects of a race or cause really DO seed the content for ‘engagement.’

Rebecca wrote, “As if this race wasn’t important enough with diabetes affecting family and friends, including my mom, Aunt Maggie, Tim, Austen (type 1), Clint’s mom, Hazel’s father and Russ’ brother…my mom is in the hospital for heart problems and won’t be able to make the trip to cheer me on in person. I have lots of reasons to run MY heart out and finish strong. If you know someone with diabetes, share your stories. I need these things to help me through 26.2.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can FEEL the heat of her cause, and it makes me want to open my wallet right then and there!

Imagine how compelling this could be for kids to embrace their missions and SEE their goals come to life cheered on by their peers, and supported by a win-win arrangement…talk about seeding ‘brand loyalty!’

As long as health sponsors are well-vetted, pre-screened and don’t sellout to those with a hidden agenda other than fitness and well-being then “it’s all good” as my Health 2.0 colleague Andre Blackman would say.

(Andre’s Pulse & Signal site is fabulous, btw, and he will no doubt report on Health 2.0 far more extensively via his Twitter account, so add him to your ‘follow’ list health advocates; he’s quite a visionary in the digital sphere, ready to help reinvent methods and thinking behind effective health education and communication by blending environmental health with disease prevention. Just like my ”junk food for the mind and body” adages, Andre connects the dots to see the interconnectedness of it all’ he’s great!)

I know I’m usually extra goosey about brands and sponsors tied to things which might involve kids, but somehow philanthropy and fitness seem to pass the sniff test.

After all, diabetes is one of the most common and serious chronic diseases in the United States and anything we can do to engage kids for short OR long term goals working up to their personal best is well worth an investment for sustainability…

Almost 21 million Americans have diabetes, 1 million more are newly diagnosed each year, and 54 million have pre-diabetes with an increased risk for developing the disease, so something like the Plus 3 Network could potentially address this from both ends: fitness/prevention and cause/fundraising potential. And if you’re wondering (like I was) how the cause gets the funds?

They run a monthly report telling the sponsors how many members covered how many miles that period, and they cut a check to the cause from there.

When Plus 3 can verify the accuracy (like with a GPS upload that includes the course, pace, distance and date) they’ll transfer THREE TIMES the funds to the cause, as opposed to the hand-entry honor system, so this naturally has my eyebrows raised. Plus 3 Network already has over 700 members as of five weeks ago, and looks ripe to form goals and challenges among the community members who hang out there.

I just joined myself (screenshot at left) to see what kind of data mining they do, since CEO Rick Sutton specifically said they do NOT sell data and rather offer a halo to corporate givers to be associated with worthwhile causes.

Admittedly, my radar was up when I tried to surf the site and a pop-up box reminded me I needed to ‘join’ or ‘sign-in’ after the first few click-arounds…But once I did, the data entry was very basic: name, e-mail, zip, password. That’s it. “Just a few simple items will get you started doing good for yourself and with those around you.”

Assuring. Delving deeper into the privacy portion of the site to sniff out the GPS query, I found this “ANTI-big brother” statement:

It says, “…We don’t share any individual data with your Cause(s) or Sponsor(s), just aggregated “group” data. We never say John ran here or Jane rode there; we just say 10,000 riders rode 100,000 miles last period. We take your privacy seriously. You can opt to share or not share your Activities with the Community or just with your Friends. Or keep it to yourself. After all, it’s your information. We let you choose, and we respect your choice.”

So far so good! Then you’re asked to “select a cause” and a screen pops up with sponsors to choose from (I assume it’s probably a one year rotation contract based on the launch date) The message reads:

“Through our free network of Sponsors and Causes, we take your exercise and Make It Count. Choose a worthy cause and a Plus 3 Sponsor will donate money based on your exercise.”

This might be just the trick to get kids engaged with rewards and incentives since we’ve found at Shaping Youth that SOME children naturally gravitate to causes (animals are always a philanthropy fave) whereas others respond to the diehard developmental, “what’s in it for me?”(in this case, rewards range from leader boards and bragging rights to sponsor prizes and swag)

As CEO Rick Sutton said, Plus 3 Network has essentially posed the global open-ended question:

“What gets you off the couch?”

They’ve taken a ‘whatever works’ methodology to apply individual motivations in a media-marketing platform that looks at HOW people ARE motivated (advertising 101!) then they leverage the polarity of both ends of the spectrum (givers and takers) turning ‘me into we.’ (btw, THAT cause should be listed for SURE!) Very smart.

So far, from what I can surmise on Plus3’s social network, biking dominates, with IMBA and Trek as lead sponsors, and cause expansion ranging from Environmental Defense Fund and Breast Cancer Research to Safe Routes to School and Rails and Trails.

The person to person social network connection among peers, (and among supporters and sponsors) is a natural mashup of positivity.

Just look at how Rebecca’s knack for words made me want to jump right in alongside her quest (and trust me, I HATE running, I’m a water rat!)

Frankly, I felt a similar passion emitting from the self-deprecating tenor of CEO Rick Sutton of Plus3.

For starters, he’s got 20 years in sports marketing and is a serial entrepreneur, with a droll wit describing himself as “probably the dullest pencil in the room…” then he goes on to explain that the business model:

…“Just makes sense because the return on investment is sound…Rather than a pop up tent with all the clutter on the internet, sponsors are able to eliminate the noise and be more like pbs marketing, where the alliance feels right, the trust is there, and the business is virtually planting a sign in the front yard of the member for a year, sharing their goals and visions.”

He’s right. It’s intimate. It’s engaging. And it puts a brand in a positive light 365 days a year with that personal connection.

They’re also leveraging the GPS mobile aspect by developing applications for the iPhone and other devices to make these social groups a “lasting journey of personal fitness and charitable giving…making the world a healthier and better place by helping its members lead healthier better lives.” (that’s from his site, not from his session)

I even like their tagline verbiage: “Making It Count is our phrase for this process of bringing people, causes, and sponsors together for the good of everyone.”

As a name generation gal, I’m admittedly NOT wild about the Plus 3 Network brand name, as it feels a bit clunky and could use some finessing, but when I looked at its backstory and ‘reason for being’ it was charming too…The tonality of the site is conversational, witty, and even a bit folksy (not in a Sarah Palin way) so it’s got a youth friendly feel that all ages can embrace.

It’s like when Rebecca wrote on her Facebook wall with the headline, “I Survived 18 miles In Hurricane Hannah and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” and it immediately made me want to read about it, support her passion, and “make it count.”

Here’s her entry, which I’d hoped to post loooooong ago (btw, you can STILL donate to her cause here, so just because the race has ended, the research needs have not!)

Hope to see you on Plus3…looks like a keeper. Meanwhile, visualize the potential of voices like this pairing in CSR platforms (corporate social responsibility) inspiring others like Rebecca Scritchfield to pass the baton and move the diabetes research agenda forward.

Here are a few other diabetes media offerings gleaned from the Health 2.0 conference.

Shaping Youth’s research associate Rebeca Boyte offers her brief notes to give you a snapshot of what’s happening in this arena via Health 2.0

Diabetic Connect:
-Facebook-like application
-make friends online, feel understood & empowered
-10,000 + members

-This site will be translated to Spanish for a greater reach
-Founder has combined his community site with dLife TV (a weekly 30 minute Sunday show on CNBC), radio, newsletter, and outreach programs
-TV Show has generated over 400 videos on the site
– Founder has been diabetic since age 10, so he emphasizes that diabetes is a lifestyle (needs are daily & complex)
-40% of his site covers food preparation & diet
@500,000 visitors/month
-Houses medical Q & A


-innnovative bilingual approach to social networks for people with diabetes
-goal is to foster & solidy connections between people
-400+ members
-created/hosted by ning

“I Survived 18 miles In Hurricane Hannah and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”

By Rebecca Scritchfield, RD, MA, ACSM (one of my favorite posts to her training blog)

How many people do you know are crazy enough to run through a hurricane – or tropical storm – or whatever that thing was. Probably one… and that’s yours truly!

It started raining the moment we stepped outside at 7a.m. While the first few miles it was pretty light rain and winds all hell broke loose shortly after that. It just came down hard and there were no “dry spots” on the trail.

After spending the first 9 miles playing “frogger” with the puddles to try and keep my shoes dry I sort of gave up on that. Oh, and my iPOD kicked the bucket at mile 4. I have not had to run more than 5 miles without my music pumping me up so that was a real shocker. Nothing to do for 18 miles except dodge puddles and suffer in the rain. Booo…

I took 1/2 a gel at mile 11 and the other 1/2 at mile 14. I can’t say it helped me. Maybe I would have been more tired and sore without it? Not sure. I might try to take it earlier in the 20 mile race. I need to talk to a running expert to find out.

The last three miles were pretty brutal because the winds picked even stronger and rain just blew sideways right into our eyes – good thing I had my new oakleys! All in all, it was an “OK” run for me. I was disappointed with my time, but considering the conditions I am trying to not feel dejected. I averaged 9:24 min/mile and I burned 1500 calories! Woohoo… time for a Whopper (kidding I hate that stuff)

My goal was 9 min/mile so I was a little off this week. Next week I have a short run, which will probably be 12-14 miles so I should hit sub 9 min/mile for that. The next long run is a 20 mile race. Thanks to all who have donated so far… please consider supporting Diabetes Action Team if you haven’t already. I’m not doing this for my health, you know… wait a minute…”

For more insights from Rebecca, visit Balanced Health & Nutrition

About Rebecca: Shaping Youth is proud to have Rebecca Scritchfield as part of our stable of guest editorial bloggers in core areas of expertise we deem integral to children’s health. Rebecca graduated with degrees in chemisty and nutrition with honors and distinction, and has additional academic training in communications and information technology. She’s certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, pursuing a graduate degree in communications at The Johns Hopkins University, with an emphasis of coursework in digital technologies and health communication, and is also a guest blogger for the diet and nutrition section of Health Commentary, led by family physician Mike Magee, MD.

Rebecca has also recently received her RD certification, so congratulations are in order, for the mind AND the body! Will you be doing the IronMan in Hawaii next? ๐Ÿ˜‰



  1. btw, here’s the ‘welcome note’ from the start up…”Mercury the messenger???” Hmn…maybe they ARE going after kids! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    “Amy, thank you for signing up with Plus 3 Network.We are a brand new start up and you are one of the first 1,000 people to join us. Thanks! You are all set to start “Making it Count” with Trek Bicycles funding you as you turn your “sweat” into “equity” ($$) for Safe Routes to Schools.

    We hope that between our Challenges, Activity logging, Fundraising, and social commitments to Friends that we help you stay motivated to be a fitter, healthier and, happier camper. I’m Mercury the Messenger, and I’ll be delivering communications via Plus 3 to and from your friends on the network.

    What we do is unique and different. Read our Tell Me More section (http://www.plus3network.com/home/faq) to learn about how we strive to deliver the magic.

    Making It Count,
    Joe, Rick, and the gang at Plus 3 Network Delivered by Mercury The Messenger at Plus 3 Network, http://www.plus3network.com

  2. I should add that I also signed up for the Diabetes Action Network newsletter when Rebecca started this race, and you should check out the category called “complementary corner”
    as it shows aligned issues like Neuropathy (which my mom has big time, even though she does NOT have diabetes, and they keep testing her for it!)

    Here’s what some of the Diabetes Action Network research $$$ goes toward:
    (from this month’s e-newsletter)

    “I am excited to share news with you from Dr. Denise Faustman who is working on a cure for type 1 diabetes at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Faustman’s team has previously discovered a technique that reversed type 1 diabetes in mice. The results of the current study – which Diabetes Action is helping to fund – have just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a top scientific journal, and confirm the feasibility of this treatment with humans.

    This treatment is unique in that it uses a generic, inexpensive, readily available, generic drug to treat those who already have type 1 diabetes and does not involve the need for immunosuppresive drugs…With your help we will continue to fund this promising research and I will keep you updated to the latest progress.”

    More on their site at: http://www.diabetesaction.org

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, and all the great info and links here.

    See also the newest and fastest-growing social network for people with diabetes: http://www.DiabeticConnect.com.


  4. Hi Amy T., yep, I mentioned that one in the links above (right after the Diabetes Action logo! ๐Ÿ™‚ Since this month is Diabetes Awareness…you’ll probably tip the scale with new growth from all ages. Nice to have a resource for people to help debunk some of the stereotypes and such too…

    Thanks for taking the time to comment! –AJ

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