Steer clear

March 17, 2015; WLJA (Washington, D.C.)

A D.C.-based youth program named Kid Power claims it was recently stiffed by a events company out of Utah named Viral Events that offers Run or Dye charity races. Andria Hollis, executive director of Kid Power, says the events company owes them nearly $8,000 based on its staffing of a race in 2014. The organization was to receive $50 for every volunteer staffing the race, plus bonuses. It provided more than 100 volunteers, but the money never came.

But in being stiffed by Run or Dye, Kid Power has lots of company—across 23 states. The BBB in Utah has since January 2014 logged hundreds of similar complaints related to the event company.

There are any number of articles in local papers with stories of nonpayment, as well as event cancellations, nonpayment of vendors, etc. (Here are some somewhat repetitive reports of similar type from Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Thunder Bay, and Ventura County, California.) This article, written in September of last year, says:

“Viral Events operates ‘Run Or Dye’ events around the country, five-kilometer races where the participants are pelted with colored powder along the route. They say 600,000 participants have ‘run the rainbow’ in 200 races across the nation so far, but in eight cities this summer, Run Or Dye was canceled or moved.”

Added to that, the company was quick to inform its partners that it had a “no refund policy.”

Jake Ackerman, the owner of Viral Events, claims he has never heard of Kid Power. Through Facebook messages, he said the company is out of business and that he “made mistakes that made us vulnerable.” Ackerman said that the company was in a “cash crunch” which prevented him from paying some charities associated with the events.

“We’ve asked some of our charity partners to be patient. Some have expressed some frustration,” Ackerman said. “We’ve got some catch up to do and we’re excited to get on about the business of playing catch up with those people who we owe money to.”

Most nonprofits can probably live without sharing in that kind of excitement.—Ruth McCambridge