You Gotta Know When—And How—To Fold ’Em!

By Paul Peavy

Sometimes ya’ just gotta know when to fold ‘em. I help run The Mac Crutchfield Foundation, which provides college swim scholarships and donates to Special Olympics.

The foundation was organizing a new and exciting fun run, but the crowd was not responding, and we were not getting the registration we needed. It was a fun run with inflatable obstacles. It was difficult to publicize and get across what we were doing because there were no other pictures of such an event out there.

We also had a problem because we had to pay for the inflatables, so there was a very real possibility of losing money for our foundation, which is not a very good way to run a successful foundation.

We decided to make one last push to friends of the foundation, but we knew that if we did not get the numbers we would have to cancel. Well, the numbers did not come up to being viable so we had to pull the plug.

So, this now becomes to me a very simple matter of pulling the plug with dignity and walking away with head held high. I called everyone that we had registered and apologized and told them we would be sending a check back to them. Those without phone numbers received a very personal email explaining what had happened. I encouraged them to continue to support The Mac Crutchfield Foundation. Most expressed disappointment but said they would look forward to our next event.

Let me skip over to another friend’s triathlon. She was successful with her events the previous two years and was expanding the triathlon. The numbers did not come through for her either. She made one last plea for more registrants and then, well, I’m not quite sure what happened. The website was shut down and no more was heard from her. This is a fine upstanding community member with personal integrity who had done all kinds of work in the community. But her reputation and this event’s reputation took a severe ding because of the way she folded the event.

The point is this: sometimes incredibly intelligent, imaginative, hard working people take risks in creating events that may not take hold. The question comes down to whether you could accept the financial risk and carry on or fold. Then, the bigger question is how to fold.

I can hold my head high and walk into any room and look anybody in the eye and talk about what happened with my event. I can also look people in the eye and talk about future events we have planned. At least they know I will be up front with them. If they hear me talking about an event they might want to come to, at least they won’t see signing up as too much of a gamble.

Paul Peavy, http://www.paulpeavy.com, is a licensed mental health therapist who, along with his wife, runs triathlons and participates in and plans sports events.

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