History of Holiday Streakers
Wonder how this whole thing got started? How did it grow from 25 or so original Streakers to what we are today? Read about streaking and our history, then prepare to be a part of the future.
I would like to say I invented the idea of Holiday Streaking, but I doubt I did. I have recently read about Holiday Streaking in a leading running magazine I am not sure if that started before us or not. But in 2012, I challenged about 25 or so of my friends to run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and that group became the first “Holiday Streakers.” It was extremely informal, no shirts, no website, barely any community beyond the loose connection (me) we already had. That being said, it was a lot of fun and we thought maybe we would do it again the next year. I admit that I haven’t checked, but I do believe that every original Holiday Streaker is still an active Streaker, which is pretty cool.
The next year, as more people wanted to try it, I decided to get us shirts. Collecting exact shirt money from about 50 people, was, well, it sucked (at least I thought it did then, I had no idea what was in store for me in subsequent years). There were a few group emails, but it was again, quite informal. I still had no idea that this would be as popular as it would become, but I also knew that collecting exact change was something that I wouldn’t do again. However, the shirts were cool and once again the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I began thinking this could be an annual thing and more people may want to get involved. But I needed a cause, a reason beyond just a fun challenge…
Going into our third year, I made the decision to just charge a nominal amount, everyone gets a shirt, and we’ll figure out what to do with the leftover money. It just happened that a teacher I worked with had a kindergarten son who was undergoing cancer treatments. A charity was born. I still believe it was Ryan’s courageous battle that gave me the courage to accept that this may be more than just a silly little running challenge. That this could be something bigger than just me or running. It was also the year that Streaking morphed from a running challenge to an “intentional exercise” challenge. As the focus changed to a larger purpose, we realized that exercise is exercise and there are people who are extraordinary health nuts but do not run. Personally, I don’t understand it, but I hear its true! This is also the year that the Jack Daniels looking logo made its first appearance. As we had more than 100 participate, delivering shirts and collecting checks was getting to be a full time job in November! But with renewed purpose and help from some friends, we began planning for something even bigger in 2015.
Year Four is when the current Holiday Streakers really began to take shape. We supported two families this year and our numbers reached 180 participants. The now infamous “I AM A STREAKER” shirts were born. A Google sheet was shared among all participants to log their exercise and make comments; everyday I got to delete multiple tabs that were added by, well, I think about everyone. It was a primitive attempt at a logging site, the beginning idea of Streaker Central. Encouragement and trash talking was promoted. I spent the vast majority of my waking time trying to collect money. Folding and delivering shirts took an entire team of about 5 of us. But we raised and were able to donate some serious money. I began to realize that this was getting bigger than what I could handle. I needed help. Dave had always been a great support, along with my wife and several local friends but I needed more. It had outgrown the one man operation status. An awesomely frightening revelation.
Enter Anthony. Year Five is the year that I finally understood what we had started. This could be big, this could grow. Heck, this was exploding! As word spread via Facebook, we grew to 360+ Streakers. We had an Old School “We’re All Going Holiday Streaking” shirt design. The development of a Facebook page was pretty popular and fun, if not completely hypocritical for me (to say I don’t Facebook in real life would be an understatement). But the two biggest developments were the creation of online registration that linked to PayPal so Streakers could pay by credit card (life was great, no more collecting checks!) and the development of the logging site (now known as Streaker Central). Anthony outdid himself and Dave, Anthony, and I spent a couple of REALLY late nights around Thanksgiving working out as many bugs as possible. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an incredible upgrade and allowed us to dream big for the coming year. Collecting money was cake, but folding, packaging, and mailing well over 100 packages of shirts was an unwelcome Christmas present for a small yet dedicated group. We were able to donate $4600 between two different families. We talked constantly of what we will do different for next year and the improvements we could make. As awesome as this year was, the three of us almost couldn’t wait to get started on next year.
This was a monumental year in our continued development. I formed a Board to support all the great changes and growth. We also become an officially recognized 501C3 nonprofit organization, a huge step that allows donations to Holiday Streakers to be tax deductible. With our logging site (currently Streaker Central) very much in place, and a somewhat primitive website (build by me), our focus was on growing to 1000 strong. We waded further into the world of social media by firing up Twitter and Instagram accounts (and send out a lot of personalized memes for promotion). The shirt was a big hit, and I still see seemingly random people wearing them from time to time. We tried having additional Streakers gear. Holiday Streakers was installed as one of the Wellness program activities by my employer, Heartland Area Education Agency 11. We were featured in the Ankeny Living magazine. And at the last minute, we threw together the idea of Streaker teams for the Streaker Central logging site. We missed our goal of 1000 Streakers (growing from 360 to more than 660!) but were encouraged by spreading to 33 different states and 3 countries. Everything ran smoothly, with the exception, again, of mailing shirts (the latest and greatest idea was Stamps.com, which, unfortunately, was NOT the answer; my wife and I spent the better part of a Friday night reprinting and relabeling a little over 300 packages after a bit of a “snafu”). We were able to donate $3500 each to three recipient families. It was truly an incredible year all around for Holiday Streaking. Come January 1st, the Board was exhausted. After a short hiatus, we were back in the virtual boardroom, reading to make the 2108 Streak somehow bigger and even better.
As Streaking 2018 rolled in, we were starting to feel established. Not satisfied, but established. Marketing took on a life of its own, in fact, I even got to be on the local news to help promote our mission (turns out I may not be “TV pretty” lol). Dave worked Instagram beautifully and we had a large contingent from the Keto world join us (the team concept is a hit!). We grew a little less than in previous years but Streaker Nation was 800 Streakers strong. And check out these stats: Streaker Nation ran/walked/hiked over 16,500 miles; biked another 2400 miles, and swam a little over 230 miles! For a grand total of (wait for it)…7546 total hours of exercise. That translates to over 314 days of exercise throughout the Streak. Simply amazing. We also introduced “Snowballs” our official 2018 Streaker logo. Providing support to three families and 2 children’s hospitals lead to a total donation of $17,500! Additionally in the Spring, we experimented with a new “Spring into Summer” Streak running from Easter to Memorial Day. About 120 participated and we donated an additional $2400 to 3 children’s hospitals. As we looked ahead to Holiday Streaking 2019, there were more ideas than time to implement them, but as with every year, we are confident that the coming Streak will be the biggest and best ever!
The year 2019 was a huge milestone for Holiday Streakers, as our goal has always been to donate 100% of registration fees to our recipients. Through some generous donations and the addition of some business partners, we were actually able to donate $33 per Streaker for a total of $22, 500! Our total participation was near 700 strong and we covered a record 36 states this year! Not only were we able to support 3 families and our two children’s hospitals, but we were very fortunate enough to have money “leftover” and got to help two more deserving families. The “Christmas Vacation” logo was a hit. Mistress Brewing stepped in and even printed a custom Holiday Streakers beer label to help support our cause (and fulfill my dream of having a Holiday Streakers beer). We also did a completely voluntary donation streak called Streaking through COVID-19 to give money to a local food shelter; we had just over 100 join. It was completely impulsive but also a way to stay in touch while everyone was in lock down. As we grow and become more efficient, our giving has really taken center stage, which is really what its all about.
Holiday Streaking 2020 was both a banner year of giving, but our most difficult year regarding our recipients. With 756 Streakers, it was our second largest Streaker Nation since we started. With the help of generous donations and some great corporate sponsors, we were able to serve 8 families and donate just over $28,000 (a whopping $36.50 per Streaker!), our biggest giving year to date. Unfortunately, we also mourned the passing of three of our 2020 recipients (Freddie Windsor, Grant Leitschuh, and Brya Graham) as well as one of our 2019 recipients (Ryan Tofteland). We will miss them and are thankful to have had the opportunity to be a small part of their journey. As the Board settles in with comfort regarding our size each year, the addition of business partners has allowed us to extend our giving significantly. We are so grateful to be able to look to 2021 knowing that we are making a significant impact on our communities with the families we support. Holiday Streaking is continuing to gain strength!
2021 was the first year the Board felt like all the pieces were in place to have another successful year, we just needed to put it into motion. It seemed almost easy as compared to years past. Our logo this year was GingerBread Men and we were honored to have over 700 registered Streakers. We were able to benefit 7 families this year, and donated the $3500 max to each family for a total of $24,500. A blew past the $100,000 donated mark and ended at just over $117,000 donated! The Streak was finally running successfully without the Board being exhausted. The Streak was sustainable! On to 2022…
So that is how we got to here. From a running challenge among friends to an all-out charity organization focusing on health, exercise, spirituality, and donating thousands to recipient families. We have expanded from the Des Moines metro area to both coasts, Texas to Canada, and even across the Pond to the UK. As always, there are a ton of new developments for this year; check out the “What’s New” in the menu bar. As Holiday Streakers continues to grow, we are working hard to make Streaking bigger and better every year.