How the innovative event has used charity to bring the Jackson community together to fight the valley’s challenges.
On the second Saturday of September each year, residents of Jackson Hole turn out for what is perhaps the most unifying event in our community: the Old Bill’s Fun Run for Charities. Over 4,000-plus people participate in a 10K or 5K run or walk in the Town of Jackson. To all who attend, this is a magical day filled with fun activities, delicious foods, good company, and a strong sense of community spirit.
The Fun Run is, of course, just the celebratory conclusion to the much grander Old Bill’s Giving Season. For six weeks prior to the run, Jackson residents donate to their favorite local nonprofits. Their gifts are augmented by a Match Pool funded by co-challengers. Nonprofits, on their end, attempt to stand out from others and bring awareness to their own work through engaging activities (like postcard parties) and sometimes hilarious antics.
Since its inception in 1997, Old Bill’s has raised over $189 million dollars for local charities, each year reaching a new record for money raised. Even with last year’s fundraiser being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, 4,349 donors gave a total of $15,314,287, the most money ever raised in a single year (and almost as much as one cent of sales tax brings in). This year, Mr. And Mrs. Old Bill – the anonymous couple who began the fundraiser – have pledged to double their matching funds to $1 million in honor of the fundraiser’s 25th anniversary, setting up what might be yet another record-breaking year.
The success of Old Bill’s is the result of the hard work of many people and the strong, charitable spirit of our community. These are the contributions, both big and small, of our residents; people who give what they can for the causes they care most deeply about. Their philanthropy helps support the crucial and diverse work of many nonprofits in our valley, including our work at the Alliance. And while it is true that we’ll need much more than just a six-week-long fundraiser to address our community’s biggest social and environmental challenges, Old Bill’s gives us reason to be hopeful and believe that we can come together as a community with shared values to address our problems.
We are thrilled to see how, over the years, the tradition of Old Bill’s has enriched Jackson Hole and the lives of our citizens with ideals of philanthropy and community. Today, one out of every three households participate in Old Bill’s, and we hope it continues to grow. Like last year, the upcoming Old Bill’s Fun Run will be different than previous ones. But we know that the spirit of community and philanthropy will remain as strong as ever. In the spirit of community, make sure to participate however you can and support your favorite nonprofits!