For mere mortals, training for a marathon, holding down a demanding job in a corporate setting, writing and illustrating more than a dozen books at a prolific pace, and being a husband and a father to two boys, would represent at least three – if not four or five – full-time occupations. Now meet Scott Magoon, a man who is either seriously eating his Wheaties or from another planet.
Magoon, art director at Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, fits this profile – and makes it look easy. Magoon is bringing all these moving parts together with his Book It to Beat Cancer campaign, to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and to raise awareness for his books.
He is offering a signed copy of one of his books to anyone who donates $40 or more to the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge, a charity partner with the Boston Marathon, which raises money for the Institute’s Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research. Thus far he’s raised approximately $4700, surpassing the $4000 required to earn a bib for entering the marathon. Magoon has set a personal goal of $6000 and "with more than a month to go until the marathon, I think I can do it," he says.
This isn’t Magoon’s usual modus operandi. "It’s a first on many levels," he says. He’s never run a full marathon before, he’s never done a fund-raising push on this scale, and, he adds, "It’s the largest self promotional effort I’ve pursued."
In fact, Magoon only started running three years ago. In 2011 he ratcheted up his program and beginning in June he ran several 5Ks. The 5Ks inspired him to tackle a half-marathon that October, which in turn inspired him to go for the whole nine yards – or, more precisely, the whole 26 miles of the Boston Marathon this spring.
Like many of the high-profile marathons, just gaining entry to participate in the Boston Marathon is very competitive. Magoon knew he would never have the official times to qualify so he decided to try the other qualifying option: fundraising. The Boston Athletic Association, which oversees the marathon, assists 31 charitable organizations by guaranteeing entries for their organizations’ fund-raising purposes. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute is one of the 31 organizations to which applicants can apply; Magoon chose the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge because people close to him, including his grandmother, have died of cancer. But equally important to him was the reputation the charity has for being highly organized and cooperative with their partners.
It was the marathon challenge that led to the self-promotional aspect of his Book It campaign. In tackling how to draw attention to his cause he thought that getting publishers on board would help. He also realized that the challenge could get his books into the hands of young readers. Magoon has the advantage of being published by a number of children’s houses, including Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, Roaring Brook, S&S, Hyperion and Balzer + Bray. He’s pleased to report that all of his publishers have been happy to help by donating the necessary books.
At HMH’s Boston headquarters, where Magoon has worked for about six years, his colleagues have been very supportive. Children’s publicity director Karen Walsh reports that Magoon has done a great job plastering his posters by the water cooler, copiers and other available wall space, "Everyone here has been really excited," Walsh said. "We’re proud of him." HMH is also showing support with its matching gifts program.
Via his Web site and his Facebook page, Magoon keeps his supporters apprised of his progress both in training and fundraising. In addition to the thousands of dollars raised, he’s logged more than 380 miles and estimates that about 85 books have been given away. Right now he’s busy ordering bubble wrap and mailing labels with the goal of getting all the books out before the marathon on April 16.
While he was perusing Facebook and other online sites for the right way to raise funds, he noticed that there was a lot of chatter about good causes and good deeds, but not enough doing. "Another reason I’m running," Magoon notes, "is to set a great example of fitness for my two boys, but more importantly, getting out there and helping others, doing something for someone else."
Even with devoting his lunch hours and weekends to running, his rapid fire publishing schedule remains on track. December saw the publication of Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fate Love Story, written by Kara LaReau (Roaring Brook). Chopsticks by Amy Krause Rosenthal, their follow-up to the bestselling Spoon, came out from HMH In January. August will see the publication of Big Mean Mike (Candlewick), for which he teamed up with Michelle Knudsen. And now, when he’s not logging miles, he’s finishing up The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot, which he wrote and illustrated, due in 2013 from S&S.
Magoon attributes being able to do all this – his job, his running, his books, his family—by taking on the various elements one day at a time. "It’s a nice metaphor for me, for my life," he says, "to take things step by step and enjoy the journey."