Sean Penn's Virtual Marathon to Aid Haiti Uses FitBit, MapMyFitness or Strava

By Etan Vlessing 10/14/18 |

Rainn Wilson and Soleil Moon Frye co-hosted The Long Run For Recovery — photo credit: Donato Sardella/Getty Images
Hurricane Michael's torrential winds had barely subsided Oct. 11 when The Office star hosted The Long Run For Recovery, Sean Penn's charity fundraiser, in Venice, California, to launch a unique virtual marathon initiative to support hurricane Michael and Florence and Haiti relief efforts.

The Long Run for Haiti requires participants — a.k.a. digital runners — to synchronize their personal page to FitBit, MapMyFitness or Strava devices or platforms to automatically track their distance as they virtually run across Haiti.  

Royal Caribbean International cruise line is offering a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two to Haiti for whoever raises the most money to support the Oscar winner's relief efforts.

"This is only our first virtual marathon, but already it’s demonstrating something that I feel deeply—that when we come together as a community even small acts, like running, can have a big impact. Together with our partners, we’re contributing to long-term recovery efforts in Haiti and emergency relief right here in the U.S.," Penn — who was not in attendance — said in a statement.

Within a day of Penn's campaign getting underway, 21 online runners had run 767 miles and raised $20,400, as of Friday afternoon. The proceeds go towards the hurricane relief efforts, and help participants learn about Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization, dedicated to saving “lives and build sustainable programs quickly and effectively with those impacted by distasters.” Both Frye and Wilson have also signed up, each aiming to raise $3500.

According to the “about” section, “J/P HRO continues to keep in step with the needs on the ground as they evolve. Programs focus on supporting the residents of the camps we manage and the surrounding communities in the ongoing post-earthquake reconstruction effort,” including community  health, engineering and construction, community development, camp & relocations, reforestation.

J/P HRO has treated half a million patients, impacted 4000 students, relocated 60,000 people, and has 95 percent Haitian staff.

Music industry veteran and digital entrepreneur Bill Baumgart, CEO of WRLDX Funds Without Borders, also made a "generous donation" to make the evening possible.  The hurricane relief efforts chime with his digital marketing and mobile financial app businesses, via WRLDX, which aim to build financial bridges to support under-served and un-bankable consumers in emerging world markets.

His WRLDX and its two main subsidiaries — RedRoar, a digital marketing agency specializing in cause-oriented products, and PocketBank, a mobile wallet app for emerging world markets with under-served consumers — is a consortium of organizations and digital resources spanning six continents and 45 countries.  

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