People run for all sorts of reasons. We run to improve our physical and mental health. We run to disconnect. We run to compete in races and achieve goals. We run simply because it’s fun.

Running can also be spiritual. And for some, running is a form of prayer.

When the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, Kahtoola made a three-month commitment to support those most impacted by COVID-19 by giving back to local and tribal communities. Since Kahtoola was started in 1999, we have been dedicated to giving back, granting 1% of annual sales to support indigenous cultures and fund projects that improve communities, healthcare, education and the environment—specifically in the Himalayan region, Peruvian Andes, and on the Colorado Plateau.

We have also been longtime opponents of uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region, regularly banding together with the Havasupai Tribe, who has led the ongoing fight, and other supporters, against the risky form of development that threatens the Grand Canyon so many of us love.

Amidst the current pandemic, the Tribe, which is remotely located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon—an 8-mile journey by mule, on foot, or by helicopter—has been particularly vulnerable to the virus. Healthcare supplies and medical access are extremely limited, and tourism (on which the tribe relies economically) and all non-essential travel in and out of the canyon have been suspended in an effort to keep the virus out of the community. So, the impact of the pandemic is, and will continue to be, felt deeply.

As a way to lend a helping hand to our friends in the Havasupai community, we first donated to the GoFundMe Havasupai Tribe COVID-19 Relief Fund, and then realized we could use a virtual run to boost fundraising efforts and encourage people to be active at the same time. That’s what led to our virtual 5k and 8-mile run (8 miles is the distance from Hualapai Hilltop parking to Supai Village). Our fundraising goal was $10,000.

Right from the start, support poured in beyond anything we anticipated. And when the run ended, we had 624 donors with 258 runners from 23 states, 69% of which were females and the youngest participant was just 15 months old. Together, this community more than doubled that amount, raising an incredible $25,000!

For 10 days, runners from around the country ran to support people and a community that has fought for decades on behalf of all of us who cherish the Grand Canyon. It was our great honor to work with each of you to offer a helping hand to the Tribe in return.

Following the run, Carletta Tilousi, Havasupai Tribal Council Member, sent this heartfelt statement that we want to share with all of you:

“On behalf of the Havasupai tribal community, we are very grateful for all the support we are receiving during this difficult time. We are humbled and thankful for everyone’s support during this pandemic. The Havasupai elders are very thankful for all the help we are receiving through your fundraising efforts.

We feel encouraged to keep our community safe from this pandemic. Thank you to everyone for thinking of the Havasupai people. We will continue to pray for all mankind and our Mother Earth to heal and remain safe. To date, we do not have a positive case in Supai Village. We are working hard to protect our families, animals, and all tribal members across the country. The tribe has been utilizing our own resources to order much needed supplies. With your help, we will continue to supply tribal members who may need help and supplies to remain sheltered in our canyon home.

Everyone be safe and our prayers are with all of you and your families. We will all get through this together.”

Carletta Tilousi
Havasupai Tribal Council Member

THANK YOU to the Havasupai Tribe for being the guardians of the Grand Canyon since time immemorial and thanks to each of you that participated for taking the time to run with Kahtoola in support of the Havasupai Tribe. The generosity, kindness and energy you’ve put into the earth with every step is felt beyond words. Thank you for doing your part to help our Havasupai friends safely navigate the ongoing pandemic.