Brian Williams Creates Change w/ “Think Kindness”

“It is human nature to make everything complex and more complicated than it really needs to be. It’s a simple act of kindness, done in solidarity, which can create the massive change we seek. A simple hello, a door being held open, or paying for someone’s coffee behind you can mean the world to someone. To date we’ve documented over 250,000 acts of kindness. . . and we’ve just begun!” -Brian Williams

What do you think of when you think of kindness? I think of doing things for others without expecting a return. Brian Williams has taken the idea of kindness to the next level, creating change locally and internationally. I will be honest, after I met with this guy it really made me look in the mirror and think to myself- “What the heck am I doing with my life!?” I’m no couch-potato, but I am talking about real change here. Lives are being touched in so many ways through this organization.

Brian is from Reno, NV where he attended Bishop Manogue High School and earned a black belt in martial arts. In 2003, he moved to LA to intern for Blake Mikosky (TOMS anyone?) at Reality Central. From there, Brian took his talent and opened a martial arts school, where he engaged his students with motivational speaking. His charisma with speaking to the youth eventually placed him in elementary schools across southern California delivering awareness in “Stranger Danger,” anti-bullying, and “Speak-to-Create-Change.” In 2008, Brian moved back to Reno and was eager to keep the kindness ball rolling and create more change.

Think Kindness was born in 2009. Brian was brought on to several different campuses in N. Nevada, and pitted schools against each other in the “15 Days of Kindness” challenge. Kids across N. Nevada were committing acts of kindness throughout the community in a “Kindness Takeover.” Check this out:

Brian soon began to pit schools against each other in another eager race to raise shoes for children 6,000 miles away in Kenya, Africa. 8,000 pairs of shoes of shoes were delivered and distributed by Brian and a courageous team of 5. To date, over 220,000 pairs of shoes have been sprinkled throughout Reno, Haiti, Japan, Kenya, and Nigeria. After several successful trips to Africa, Brian began to brew more ideas of how he could provide further assistance to the children of Kenya. On August 8th, Brian and a team of 16 will come together to deliver 1,500 life straws and 500 pairs of shoes. What’s a LifeStraw? It’s a small filter that will offer clean water to someone for 1 year…Real change…are you getting my point?

I am only mentioning a few of the major campaigns Think Kindness has launched since 2009, as there have been many more; victims from the Reno Air Races and the Japanese Tsunami have been supported by Think Kindness in the past several years. Think Kindness also sponsors Family Assistance and Educational Assistance for children in Africa.

A little bit closer tohome…. If you are in the Reno/Tahoe/Sparks area, keep your eyes peeled for Kindness Cards. Random acts of kindness will be recorded through these Kindness cards. Think of the “pay it forward” concept, combined with the “Where’s George” bill tracker. Perhaps your next cup of coffee will be paid for by a total stranger; along with your coffee you will receive your Kindness Card- follow the instructions to see where it came from, and pay the act of kindness forward. Why didn’t I think of that? Soon, Kindness Cards will be sprinkled all across N. Nevada with trackable, random acts of kindness that being performed by total and complete strangers. How are you creating change? Donate here. Follow the change here.

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The Biggest Little Relay Race: The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey

Written by Kristin Stith, originally posted on What Keeps The BIGGEST…little.

“This is kind of like Burning Man, but with running.” – friend/burner/Odyssey teammate, Johanna Bailey

Speaking of all things Reno…Here’s an event that keeps the Biggest Little City, little…The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. Now, this is one of those events that I tell my friends about, and they look at me like I am completely nuts. Probably. But, I am not the only one who is nuts. There were almost 3,000 people that participated in this 178-mile relay race throughout the Reno/Tahoe area on Friday/Saturday.

Eric Lerude founded the Odyssey 8 years ago, and he coordinates the event every year with many volunteers. Portion of the proceeds are donated to charities like the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation and Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. An incredibly entertaining aspect of the race is all of the team names and yes…costumes. I saw it all this weekend. Men running in speedos, women running dressed as American flags, women and men running in tutu’s. And yes, there is beer. I saw a man dressed as a pink bunny running up Geiger Grade with a Heineken in his hand. God bless him.

How does this work?

Most teams include 12 members (male, female, or coed); some only have 6 (these teams are “ultra” which to me, means unbelievable). Each team of 12 will be broken up into 2 vans (6 and 6). Van #1 will have runners 1-6 run each of their legs, stopping at individual “exchanges” to have each runner pass off The Odyssey wristband. Then van #2 carries runners 7-12. These exchanges go on for 178 miles, a team of 12 will have each runner run 3 times. It took our team 26 hours to complete the race, some teams are faster, and some teams are slower.

Here are some FAQ’s: Is there time to sleep? A little, when your van is off- you can attempt to grab some shut-eye.  I slept for about 3 hours, which is a treat! Where do you change? In the vans…yes it gets stinky. Do you run in the dark? Yes. The race is nonstop; in fact Miss Evven Carrion was climbing 4.2 miles up Kingsbury Grade, exiting Lake Tahoe at 3 am. Where do you go to the bathroom? ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE! Are you following all of this? This may break it down for you:

Where do you run?

The best part about The Odyssey is the scenery. Starting in Downtown Reno along theTruckee River, traveling through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and along the shores of Lake Tahoe. Then, we circle back through the Northern Nevada high desert back to where you began in Reno, at Idlewild Park. Runners get to experience a variety of sceneries. Each of my legs were in completely different areas, I saw Tahoe, Carson City, and Downtown Reno.

I was invited by the Mayberry Athletic Center to run with them this year. I was runner #12, which means I was the runner to cross the finish line for my team. My first leg was the beginning of North Lake Tahoe, it was about 9pm. The moon was fairly full that night and the whole lake was lit, it was gorgeous. Once again, I am from Southern California- and running through Truckee and Lake Tahoe is still a dream to me. I am still a tourist, and I may always be. If you check out my Facebook, I was keeping everyone posted throughout the 26-hour race. I was also tweeting. The Odyssey hash tag this year was #RTO12 if you want to check out tweets from the race this year- many of them are quite comical.

Despite the beer and costumes, this race is nothing to take lightly! It was intense and it was hot. Running in and out of the mountains has many elements: altitude, total darkness, animals, bugs, major inclines, and major declines. All of that aside, it is an amazing experience and I had a blast competing with my team. It was cool to see so many runners come together to enjoy this event. Everyone is supportive of one another. Complete strangers will offer you water, food, cold towels, or toilet paper. I can’t wait to do it again.

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Intent: To Tell the Stories of Reno Business

We intend to use this blog to share, for real, and perhaps for the first time, the realities of business and life in Reno, Nevada. We, the people of this awesome place, are going to dig deep and find the stories right here in Reno. We want to share the good things that are happening: Reno’s favorite businesses, the real business owners, entrepreneurs, success stories, how they got to where they are now. We all want to know and that is what we are going to work weekly to  bring to the surface.

Reno is Rockin and there are many
damn good reasons we live here

We are going to share the good truths about Reno businesses that the outside world doesn’t hear all to often. This is Made In Reno.

We invite you to learn more about the movement and to join us.

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