As the sun creeps over the eastern horizon on January 18, 2009, more than 250 Ewing employees from across the country will lace up their shoes, strap on their iPods and gather at the starting line of the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and 1/2 Marathon in Phoenix. This year marks the sixth time “Team Ewing” has joined together to participate in this annual event, but this year’s event holds more meaning amid a turbulent economy.


 “During times like these, we need to look to each other for support. This race is a perfect opportunity to come together, boost morale and get motivated to have a big sales year in 2009,” said Robert Diaz, a “Team Ewing” captain and water quality products manager at Ewing Irrigation Products. “In a way, enduring the economy is like running a marathon. We might be at mile marker 20, have a few blisters and think we can’t make it to the end, but the reality is, if we push ourselves and our teammates, we will persevere to the finish line and make it through.”


Ewing’s involvement in the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and ½ Marathon began in 2004, and has since become an annual tradition focused on enhancing employee camaraderie while promoting fitness, nutrition, personal growth and balanced, healthy lifestyles.


For the last five years, Ewing has been sponsoring employees and family members nationwide, paying for airfare, race entry, hotel accommodations and meals for those who wish to participate in either the marathon or ½ marathon.


Employee participation has increased exponentially over the years, growing from 50 employees in 2004 to the more than 250 employees predicted for the upcoming race in 2009. Ewing’s model of a corporate team challenge inspired event organizers to create the “Get Fit Challenge,” a competition designed to promote health, fitness and camaraderie in the workplace while competing with other companies to bring the most people to the finish line.


“Like many organizations, we have been searching for ways to curb our spending,” said Douglas York, president of Ewing Irrigation Products. “Despite this fact, our participation in the P.F. Chang’s event remains a priority for us. We intend to continue embracing opportunities that boost morale and encourage leadership. This event helps us to do that.”


In addition to boosting morale internally, Ewing employees are running to raise money for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.


“It is an inspiration to see corporations and their employees join together during these turbulent economic times to raise funds in support of the autism community,” said Sam Levitt, national director of community events for Autism Speaks. “The engagement of corporations in support of Autism Speaks through sponsorship and internal fundraising will have a lasting impact on the research, awareness, family services and advocacy initiatives of the organization. This will aide Autism Speaks in helping those people across the country that need our help and support now more than ever.”


Ewing employees have set their fundraising goal at $20,000, and if their goal is met, Ewing has agreed to match the goal amount. If achieved, the match would bring Ewing’s fundraising grand total to over $40,000 of financial support for desperately-needed research and advocacy.


 To donate money to Autism Speaks, visit Ewing’s donation page at www.active.com/donate/teamewing.