Making the Leap

Red Frog Events commits to St. Jude as a national charity partner.

by Leigh Ann Roman

Making the Leap

All of the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are warriors.

Kevin Washburn knows that is true because his son Ethan has been fighting since January 2010, when tests revealed the presence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.

Ethan was immediately referred to St. Jude, where the 7-year-old began a three-year chemotherapy treatment plan that put his cancer into remission.

Now Kevin is a warrior, too, competing in a Warrior Dash competition produced by Red Frog Events, LLC. Chicago-based Red Frog, a leader in the active entertainment industry, recently made St. Jude its national charity partner and has already raised more than $2 million by encouraging participants in the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race and Beach Dash events to raise money for St. Jude.

The Warrior Dash is a 5K race in which participants conquer obstacles such as wooden barricades, barbed wire and waist-deep water on their way to the finish line.

“I decided to participate in the Warrior Dash primarily because of the new relationship with St. Jude,” Kevin says. “Ethan and his brother, Cooper, are proud of themselves for talking their dad into crawling through mud under barbed wire and jumping over fire, all the while raising money for St. Jude.”

Red Frog co-CEO Ryan Kunkel says the partnership with St. Jude is a perfect fit. “From the onset there has been such synergy with the passion and excitement we had for what each other did,” he says. “We saw potential for a large partnership and, of course, the mission of St. Jude is like no other. St. Jude is truly focused on helping those who need it most.”

Most people who compete in Red Frog events are fun-loving professionals in their 20s or 30s. “It’s been unbelievable, seeing the passion our participants have for what St. Jude does,” Kunkel says.

Inspired by the TV show The Amazing Race, Kunkel’s brother-in-law Joe Reynolds started Red Frog in 2007 with eight Great Urban Race events. Touted as a wacky urban adventure, the race requires teams to solve 12 clues and complete challenging tasks while exploring a city. Kunkel joined the company in 2009.

Red Frog has seen tremendous growth and, in 2011, won the U.S. Chamber of Commerce DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award. That year, the company also decided to make St. Jude its national charity partner.

St. Jude will also partner with Red Frog in its newest endeavor, the Firefly Music Festival, planned for July in Dover, Delaware, through the Music Gives to St. Jude Kids program.

“We feel it’s a privilege to be working with such a truly world-changing organization,” says Kunkel, “and we are excited to continue to grow our efforts to continue to provide lifesaving treatment to the kids of St. Jude.”

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Reprinted from Promise Summer 2012

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