Fitness Articles

Charity Races Mix Fitness and Fundraising

A Win-Win Scenario: Get Fit and Help Others!

Donkey basketball. A classic example of two words you’d never include in the same sentence let alone next to each other. Yet some of you may have heard of it nonetheless. Donkey basketball was an annual event that took place in my small southern town when I was a kid: Real life donkeys in the high school gym, mounted by people and playing basketball for an audience. The whole point of donkey basketball was to raise money for a good cause. What can I say? We’ve come a long way since then!

Fitness-themed fundraising events continue today, but thankfully donkey basketball is a thing of the past (I hope!). Today, many charity groups hold specific fitness events with the goal of recruiting participants to help raise money and awareness for their cause. In return, the charity often provides participants with the tools they need to achieve their goals. Chances are that right now there are some charity events in your community.  You may have even walked, ran or biked in one! People participate in these events for a host of reasons, whether they want to contribute to a good cause, get some exercise, or wear their race T-shirt with pride.

I have had personal experience with charity races on three different occasions. My first was at the Country Music Half Marathon, which benefited a local group called Team ASK (Athletes for Special Kids). The second was the Tour de Cure bike ride for the American Diabetes Association. And most recently, I fulfilled my dream of running in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. There are many others out there including the well-known Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program, which offers various events all over the country. (If you have ever seen a lot of people in purple tank tops during televised marathons or races, those are the folks!) And this year's Marine Corps Marathon has are over 70 participating charity groups from which participants can choose from.

So how exactly do you get involved in a charity race? It works like this.
  1. A charity group identifies an event, such as a half or full marathon, 5K or 10K run/walk, bike tour, or triathlon.
  2. The charity then recruits participants who agree to raise money for the charity and personally participate in the race itself.
  3. Participants typically pay a race entry fee (which can range from $10 to $40 on average). This money usually goes directly to the charity group, but also reserves a participant's spot in the race.
  4. In the months or weeks leading up to the event, participants are asked to raise funds, and are often encouraged to meet a minimum fundraising goal, as set by the charity. Participants will ask their friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers to donate money to the cause on their behalf.
  5. In turn, the charitable organization often provides support, coaching, encouragement, and training to help participants reach not only their fundraising goals, but also the level of fitness necessary to participate in the race.
Overall, a charity race is a great way to raise money and awareness for a good cause while staying motivated and encouraged to stick with a fitness program. Here are the top 4 reasons you should consider running, walking or biking for charity yourself:
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

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