Kindness Prevails

Through PARK Project’s #WePARK movement, Marly Q. Casanova is encouraging us to create “A World where Everyone Performs Acts of Random Kindness” to ignite the community like never before.
Text by Estrellita S. Sibila Photo by Gani Espinoza | May 19, 2018 | People

When she was 20, Marly Q wrote down her vision for the world she dreamed of and wished to create…a world where people actively respond to their inner desire to be kind and of service to one another. A decade later, she’s realizing her dreams and inspiring others to spread kindness through an organization she helped launch called PARK Project. “It began as a simple birthday party for a cause; my mission was to unite my closest friends and family to celebrate life with me and inspire them to PARK (Perform Acts of Random Kindness) for our servicemen and women the weekend of 9/11.”
That year, instead of birthday gifts, she asked people to PARK a $20 donation at the door and her friends enjoyed an awesome celebration at Grand Central with DJ sets DJ Robin Louis and a live performance by Day Music Died. That night she and her fellow 300 party-going PARKers helped raise $5,000 that was later donated to the Miami Veteran’s Administration Fisher House and the FIU Relay For Life. The following year, she founded the 5K Freedom Run & PARK Festival.
As awareness grew, Marly Q began orchestrating “flash mobs of kindness” at malls, gifting balloons to strangers and handing out flowers to passersby just because. After a series of successful events, PARK Project devised a revamped plan for a 5K PARK Fest that won her 3rd place for The Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge. “It’s not your typical race,” she says, “the ‘5 K’ stands for Performing 5 Acts of Kindness at this all-day family-fun festival that unites our community to celebrate philanthropy.”
PARKticipants pay a $40 registration fee and half of the fee is passed directly to a cause of choice. The bigger the team, the more money and awareness raised. Last year’s event drew over 700 PARKticipants, 80+ teams and raised just shy of $30,000 for 66 local non-profits and schools in South Florida. “Our 2016 mission is to make history and double our impact by inspiring 1,500+ people to PARKticipate and benefit 100+ worthwhile causes in our community.”
Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual 5K PARK Fest taking place Sat., Oct. 1 from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Start a team or join a cause for your chance to PARK;