Catching up with Dick Batchelor as Run for the Children hits 30-year mark
This weekend, the Dick Batchelor Run for the Children marks the 30-year milestone.
That's about the same amount of time Batchelor has been out of public office, though he manages to keep a higher profile than some current state house representatives with lots of air time as a political analyst.
What else is the race's namesake up to these days?
I caught up with him recently — while he was on a Tallahassee-bound Greyhound bus.
It turns out that the politician-turned-lobbyist and businessman occasionally opts for the bus so he doesn't waste time when he travels.
"I could have flown … spending nonproductive hours (without phone service) or take the bus and complete five hours of uninterrupted reading and emailing," he wrote in an e-mail from somewhere along Interstate 10.
He even admits that he's always embarrassed to submit his bus expenses to clients in fear that they might "think I am a bit off," but says he's obsessed with the efficiencies of time management.
Perhaps he needs the extra time to keep up with one interesting client he's taken on recently. After all, I can't picture the folks at 5-Hour Energy, makers of the seen-on-TV drink, as a subdued bunch.
Batchelor helped the Michigan-based company hire and manage its federal lobbyists and recently helped it ink a deal to advertise in the AARP's magazines, a key demographic for 5-Hour Energy.
Batchelor, a Democrat, may be known as a former state legislator who, in 1982, ran for Congress and lost to Bill McCollum before parlaying his politics into a lobbying career.
But these days he says a lot of what he does falls more into the category of "business development" and "connecting the dots with members of the been-there-done-that club."
Child advocacy remains his passion. The race scheduled for Saturday raises money for the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families, part of the Orlando Health hospital system.
Batchelor says competing system Florida Hospital, where he serves as chairman of its foundation and Florida Hospital for Children boards, considers the race a "pre-existing condition."
The run will be held for the first time at Universal Orlando, a request made by Universal executive Jan Stratton shortly before her death in November. Under her leadership, Batchelor said, Universal became a big sponsor of the race as well as the Howard Phillips Center.
Batchelor hasn't run in his race for years thanks to a bum knee. But don't worry, he won't be taking the Greyhound to the finish line.
"I'm the guy walking around with the clipboard," he said. "I'm the big cheerleader."