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One Last Thought: Gratitude for Miles

There is something so special about Novembers in New York City. Each year, the month kicks off with one of the largest, most outstanding displays of strength and perseverance in the world: The ING NYC Marathon. The streets transform into a runway for experienced athletes and novice marathoners alike; and the sidelines are packed with cheering and inspired fans. It is a long awaited day filled with hope, excitement and — this year especially — resilience. Back on track after the 2012 cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy, and in spite of the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon, a record 50,740 runners participated (up 3,000 from the previous 2011 race), many of them sporting “For Boston” and “Boston Strong” gear. As a spectator, it was impossible to deny the intense energy and contagious gratitude radiating off each runner; there was nothing stopping them from completing their 26.2 miles. So many New Yorkers — in the City and across the State — live with a similar zeal each and every day. This vigor for life and the greater good is exactly what inspired November’s New York ‘Outstanding’ State of Mind issue.

For the last four weeks, we have celebrated the above-and-beyond choices of New Yorkers, the individuals and businesses who act outside the norm in a variety of ways:

  • Outstanding Creativity: We introduced two major artistic forces from New York (who also happen to be good friends): Modern artist Ellsworth Kelly and MoMA President Emerita Agnes Gund;

  • Outstanding Service: We honored Veteran’s Day with a week of stories highlighting the State’s dedicated servicemen and women, and the difficult decisions they make each and every day in pursuit of the greater good;

  • Outstanding Style: We stepped behind-the-scene into the atelier of Manhattan-based (and Manhattan-manufacturing) fashion designer Lela Rose; and,

  • Outstanding Compassion: We gave thanks to New York’s kindest souls.

To wrap up our November issue, we wanted to introduce a final example of our New York Outstanding State of Mind — Charity Miles. A triple-threat mobile app, Charity Miles combines exercise, charitable giving and altruistic advertising opportunities. Founded in NYC by social entrepreneur Gene Gurkoff, Charity Miles allows users to “earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike.” Connecting to GPS, the app tracks and logs a user’s distance; bikers earn 10-cents per mile, while walkers and runners earn 25-cents per mile — all for a charity selected in-app at the beginning of each workout. There are currently 25 national organizations to support, such as The World Food Programme, Autism Speaks, The Wounded Warrior Project and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The financial support comes from one of three current sponsors: Lifeway, Liv/giant and — as of this week — Timex. Their “ads” appear in the form of tweets and Facebook updates once a user finishes his/her workout and shares it to his/her social media channels (a necessary step to make your miles count).

“A lot of what Charity Miles is about isn’t just about raising money but allowing people to express themselves and their commitment in a meaningful way, [about] empowering each person to go out and make a difference,” Mr. Gurkoff said. “I want the billions of dollars companies are spending on banner ads to go toward curing Parkinson’s, curing cancer. And none of us on our own could get a corporate sponsor, but all of us together can.” Since its June 2012 launch, the app’s over 300,000 active users (with about 50,000 per month) together have logged more than 2.5 million miles and raised over $600,000 for charity. Downloading the app just might be the best way to give back this holiday season — and tackle the inevitable weight gain of holiday binge-eating. Reflecting on the energetic start to November, looking at our ‘outstanding’ stories this month, and on the heels of Thanksgiving, it’s impossible NOT to be inspired to go that extra mile (pun intended) and to follow in the footsteps of so many great New Yorkers, be they artists, servicemen, designers, philanthropists or entrepreneurs. I don’t know about you, but I have been motivated all month long. Who knows, maybe next November I’ll decide to run through the five boroughs for 26.2 miles, with Charity Miles in hand — or maybe that’s the lingering tryptophan- and pie-induced delirium talking. — In case you missed any of our stories this past month, we've compiled the entire New York 'Outstanding' State of Mind issue in pictures below. Take a look, savor it, share it — and tell us about your own outstanding state of mind in the comments below.

 

The New York OUTSTANDING State of Mind: A Recap

The November Issue: Drawing Outside the Lines

NYSOM's Co-Founder, COO and Editor in Chief Christine Murphy introduced the November Issue in her Editor's Note.

The Shirt Factory: Thinking Outside the Box

We toured the Shirt Factory in Kingston, an abandoned warehouse turned bustling art space.

Outliers Together: Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Gund

We shared a short film of a conversation between friends, featuring modern American artist Ellsworth Kelly and MoMA President Emerita Agnes Gund, captured in Mr. Kelly's Hudson Valley studio. Their candid dialogue touches on the art scene, the creative process and their incredible experiences in New York.

Forming A Protective Outer Circle: The Patriot Guard Riders

We spotlighted the Patriot Guard Riders of New York (with particular attention paid to the group's Finger Lakes and Southern Tier divisions), a group of volunteer motorcyclists who provide support and protection at military funerals and other events.

Zach Iscol Reaches Out A Helping Hand

We introduced you to Zach Iscol, a battle-decorated former Marine who now strives to help fellow vets overcome PTSD and find employment after service through his for-profit and non-profit ventures.

Outside Personality: The "Real" Uncle Sam

We unveiled the story of the REAL Uncle Sam, a butcher from Troy; a rich part of local legend, but little known outside of the Capital region.

Mightier Than the Sword: Accessories with Meaning

We lusted over the fashionable Sword & Plough accessories made by Veterans using repurposed military fabrics, and inspired by New York's own West Point.

The Suburban/Urban Outfitter: Fashion Designer Lela Rose

We went behind the scenes of Lela Rose's atelier in Manhattan's Garment District to learn about her eponymous fashion line and her hyper-local, bike-commuting, greenmarket-product-consuming life in New York.

More Than Just A T-Shirt: You and Who 

We highlighted a Buffalo-based company that sells the "Goodest" shirts ever. Similar to TOMS, You and Who donates one T-shirt to charity for each one T-shirt sold, and furthermore hires local artists to create the screen-printed designs.

Outsourcing Talent to Bring it In-House

We spoke to Tom Cahill, the president and CEO of Studio in a School, an organization founded in 1977 by Agnes Gund to bring arts education — in the form of professional artists — to low income public schools in NYC, following devastating government budget cuts. 

In the Kitchen, Out on the Road to Recovery

We met the folks at Leaf, Loaf & Ladle, an organization that uses food to bind communities together.

Outlasting Influence: Long Island's Native American Culture

Ancient Native American place names live on to this day. In honor of Thanksgiving we investigated the Native American roots (and their accessibility, in both historic and living terms) on Long Island.

Taking Turkey Out of the Menu: Farm Sanctuary

We traveled to Watkins Glen's Farm Sanctuary, a refuge for farm animals rescued from traumatic circumstances, for a look at their twist on the Thanksgiving tradition.

Charity Miles

We bid farewell to Thanksgiving with a little philanthropic motivation to give back this holiday season — and get back in shape.