1. Be part of something bigger than yourself. By participating, you are joining hundreds and thousands of others who have the same goal of helping people—and that just feels good! Many participants would probably tell you that they wouldn’t have just signed up for a race on their own, but knowing they would be helping others motivated them to do so. In running the Marine Corp Marathon last year, I was proud to wear the singlet with the Injured Marine Semper Fi logo. Many people would shout “Semper Fi!” as I ran by and that felt amazing!
2. Be part of a team. Anyone who played sports in high school or college will tell you that when their “career” ended, one of the biggest things they missed was being a part of a team. Participating in an event with a charity group puts you on a team of other runners, walkers, and cyclists who have a united goal and purpose. You even get to wear the same shirts or jerseys in most cases. For those who have always longed to be on a team, whether for the first time of the fiftieth, this is a great opportunity.
3. Build some very special relationships. When I was training with the runners from Team ASK with Special Kids, we met up every Saturday in the winter to train together. On those extra cold mornings, running become bearable an even fun knowing I would be seeing my friends. Also, sharing in the training experience and encouraging one another builds great bonds and friendships that last long after the event is over.
4. Get the tools you need to accomplish your goal. You may have had a lifelong dream of completing a marathon, or even a triathlon, but there was one problem: You didn’t know how to train to get there. Groups like the Leukemia Society’s Team In Training provide coaches who will give you weekly schedules so you know exactly what to do and when to do it. They also provide other tips for training and fundraising. Their goal is for you to succeed in your event and fundraising and to have a great overall experience. Sometimes there are even local groups with these teams that meet for weekly runs or walks.
As I said earlier, a charity race really is a win-win scenario. But more accurately, it's a “win-win-win” scenario! You win by completing a dream or fitness feat. The charity wins by receiving the funding they need to fulfill their mission. And the people helped by the charity win by benefiting from the research, services, education and support that the charity provides. How much better can it get?