Putting the Fun Back in Fundraising


The Pineapple Classic 5k was inspired by the impact cancer had on one family and a desire to raise funds and awareness in a unique, exciting way.

In 2005, Adobe’s eCommerce director Eric C. learned his wife and two-year-old son had cancer. The next four years consisted of testing and treatments while the family did what was necessary to get healthy again. Instead of crumbling in the face of adversity, Eric’s family banded together to gain control of their lives and raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Read on to hear how Eric created the massively successful Pineapple Classic 5k fundraising event, learn more about the event, and what you can do to help the LLS!

The Beginning
When Eric’s wife and son were diagnosed with cancer in 2005, the family spent months going through intensive chemo treatment in a Seattle hospital while their family and friends offered support from back home on the east coast. As a way to cope, the family began to plan what they would do after they completed treatment. They decided to take a trip to Hawaii and to participate in the LLS Light the Night walk in Seattle. When they decided to participate there were just three weeks to go before the Light the Night walk, so Eric’s family didn’t have much time to fundraise. But their story struck a chord with many people, and in that short amount of time the family raised an astounding USD45,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Amazed with the amount of money Eric’s family had raised, the LLS arranged a meeting with him. It was in this meeting that the opportunity arose to create a fun and exciting fundraising event for the LLS. Eric explained that “many people want to do good things and are perfectly willing help out, but many fundraising events just aren’t fun.” He wanted to create a fun event that people would want to attend with helping out a great cause as an added bonus.

The Idea
With the possibility of creating an exciting new fundraising event for the LLS, Eric and his family flew to Hawaii for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. While there, the family decided the event would have to be Hawaiian themed. As Eric said, “no one goes to Hawaii and doesn’t have fun.”

From there, the idea for the Pineapple Classic 5k took off.

Back home in Seattle, Eric proposed the idea to the project manager and direct of the LLS. He explained that “to have fun, you want team participation and involvement. It’s an adventure race, an obstacle course that anyone can complete. It’s fun, laid back, Hawaiian style. Wear a costume, drink some beer, get muddy. There will be a luau at the end. The goal is to have a good time.” While the director wasn’t sure if the people of Seattle would enjoy completing an obstacle course while wearing a costume and getting muddy, he trusted Eric and gave the green light to the event. That first year, 800 people registered and raised USD90,000 for the LLS.

The Pineapple Classic 5k Today
Seven years later, the Pineapple Classic in Seattle sees around 3,000 participants and averages USD500,000 in funds for the LLS each year. Additionally, Eric and the LLS have expanded the Pineapple Classic to nine cities across North America, including Dallas, Portland, Greenwich, Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Jose.

The obstacle course is put together entirely by volunteers with donated materials and 100 percent of the funds raised at the events benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Because there is no budget to create the course, the construction committee has to get creative. Eric says “in Seattle, a port town, we have a lot of shipping containers. Participants climb over, under, and through the shipping containers, wearing their costumes and carrying a pineapple.”

Eric claims that his favorite obstacle was the giant slip and slide created out of a 50 x 25 foot sheet of industrial plastic and dish detergent on a slope. “People slid across so fast they’d get grass stains on the other side. Onlookers would cheer on fast sliders and boo people who didn’t make it all the way across. It was so fun.”

Another fun aspect of the Pineapple Classic 5k is the costumes. Eric says “maybe 10 percent of people don’t wear costumes. The costumes are a huge aspect, and there seems to be an unspoken rule that the craziest costume gets the most respect. I’ve seen couples in wedding gowns and tuxedos, a group in mountaineering equipment all tied together and the Scooby Doo gang. It’s always a great time.”

There’s a Pineapple Classic 5k Near You!
With a Pineapple Classic 5k in nine cities across the U.S., there’s bound to be an event near you. It’s a fantastic way to have fun and support a great cause at the same time.

Learn more about the Pineapple Classic 5k and find an event near you.