I could say that the Penny Marathon is just another animal welfare non-profit organization, but it’s a lot more. The Penny Marathon is a chance for all of us to go out there once a year, among the public, and speak for all companion animals that keep waiting in shelter kennels or out on the streets – waiting for a chance. Once a year, instead of hiding behind heartbreaking Facebook posts and cries for help through online fundraising campaigns, we run a Marathon, wearing our Penny Marathon T-shirts, hoping to get the attention of people who might never had heard of what rescuing is actually about and might never had come across an animal welfare Facebook page or website. The Penny Marathon barely makes it to the eight o’clock news – but at least we make it to the streets, and that’s awesome.
Let’s start from the beginning. Ellie Prodromou the Greek-Australian founder of the charity worked as a journalist in Greece for five years and Penny was a dog who would meet her at the bus stop every morning. One day, Penny wasn’t there waiting for Ellie. A security guard pointed out a corpse on the side of the road – Penny had either been run over by a car or poisoned, as it keeps happening with so many stray dogs and cats in Greece who get to survive on their own as strays. In Penny’s honor, Ellie named her charity after her. And this is how it all started.
As John Spinoulas, one of the Penny Marathon volunteers sais: “In April 2012, I read a post about Eleftheria and Pep Prodromou planning to run a marathon for stray animals in Greece and Australia in mid-July – right in the heart of summer – which, to be honest, seemed like a crazy idea, but I liked the cause, so I asked a friend and fellow runner to join me and that’s how everything got started.”
According to the description on the charity’s official website “the Penny Marathon provides both a voice to stray, abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals (cats and dogs) and support to the people and groups that fight to save their lives. The money we raise through donations and sales is primarily used for various stages of the rescue–rehome process, such as medical emergencies, boarding, food and bedding, spay and neutering, vaccinations, travel and other essential costs.” Donations help the Penny Marathon save the lives of some companion animals in Autralia and Greece. “In Greece, for example, this help encompasses all stages of the rescue-rehome process. In Australia, we support established charities that save animals from euthanisation by finding them temporary accommodation until they are rehomed.”
This Sunday, July 10 2016, the fifth Penny Marathon will take place in five cities – Athens, Hania, Kalamata and Salamina in Greece, and Sydney in Australia, and I’m proud to say that this year I will be joining the Athens marathon, along with my beloved Elizabeth and some of the rescue dogs of SPAZ, and I’m excited. What started as a “crazy idea” of two women wanting to do something different, turned out to be an amazing annual event, with more people and more cities participating every year. And this is definitely something.
Running the Penny Marathon is much more than running just another marathon. It’s like sharing the journey of every orphaned, homeless and mistreated companion animals out there, form Greece to Australia and all around the world – it’s long and difficult journey towards something that can be considered as an end. Whether the end of their journey is a new home, an accidental death on the street or a euthanasia shot in a shelter’s “unwanted” ward, we run for them – and we’ll keep running until no more healthy dogs are put down, until no dog or cat is obliged to make the streets a home, until people realize that even considering buying a companion animal, is actually what killed Penny, and all the Pennies in the world.