GARDINER, N.Y.--The founder of a nationwide color run spoke exclusively to Fox CT about allegations by customers that his run and charity are scams.
Jamie Leibert runs Color Fun Fest, a popular running event featuring powdered paint and music. It is based out of Richardson, Texas.
Customers complained to Fox CT after an event that was scheduled for August 8 in New Britain was unexpectedly rescheduled to a new day and location, and no refund was offered. The tickets cost $40 per person.
“I’ve done seven of these 5Ks. I’ve never had an issue like I had with this company,” Michelle Russo from Waterbury said.
Leibert told Fox CT on Monday that the New Britain event was rescheduled after the venue backed out.
Jamie Leibert: From what I understand, the event was rescheduled because we had a handshake agreement with a venue. They didn't want to do it. They changed their mind. And at that point, we had to get another venue.
Louisa Moller: You're also giving your word that you're going to deliver on an event and you're taking people's money without a signed contract. Doesn't that feel wrong to you?
Jamie Leibert: No, because it's a trust policy. Because, if I work with you and you're telling me that we're good to go, that's all I need to know.
He also reacted to an email Fox CT obtained from the New Britain Parks and Recreation Department. In it, superintendent of recreation, Erik Barbieri, reached out to Color Fun Fest to ask about the run.
"You have an event listed in our facility on our website but we have no information on it. Can you either take it off or your website or call me please,” Barbieri wrote.
Leibert said he had no knowledge of this email.
The self-proclaimed extreme sportsman said that his life is about supporting his charity, Just Care More. He said he was inspired by his own rough childhood.
"I have group homes, abusive homes, drug addiction, trouble with the law. I turned my life around. I dedicated it to doing the right thing all the time and I wanted a platform to work with kids that need mentorship,” he said.
Color Fun Fest’s website links to the Just Care More website. On it, the charity advertises itself as “a non-profit organization focused on taking time to show young people love and empathy while supporting their dreams.”
It also mentions a camp called Camp Care More which, “will harness the compassion, support, and motivation of staff and volunteers to foster character and leadership training through extreme sports activities.” However, the site does not mention that the camp does not currently exist. Leibert said he has not even purchased the property to build the camp on, and he admitted that the website could be more transparent.
“The reality is, I don't know how to run a non-profit. I don't know all the procedures that need to go into making this thing transparent,” he said. “We are currently going to go and we're going to restructure the entire Just Care More site so that it is transparent."
Leibert said Just Care More has applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS and is waiting for its application to be processed. He emphasized that his operation is not a scam.
"I think the big interpretation people would have is, hey these guys are holding runs, they're raising money under Just Care More, and then they're paying themselves with it. Come look at my books. We're not."