Fitness Articles

Run for Good: A Charity Race for Every State

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You already know that running does your mind and body good—but what if it could also do the world some good? If the physical and psychological benefits aren't enough to get you on the sidewalk, track or treadmill, maybe you should consider signing up for a charity race. Combining fundraising and fitness, these philanthropic events raise money for all types of causes, from cancer research to child abuse to animal rights.

Charity races are available for all levels and lengths, from mile-long "fun runs" to 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons and triathlons. In most cases, the registration fee goes directly to the charity group. Some organizations will encourage you to raise additional funds by recruiting family, friends and coworkers to sponsor you in the race. You may also have the option to join a training team with other participants, which can provide invaluable motivation, coaching and camaraderie leading up to race day.

Each U.S. state offers dozens, or even hundreds, of charity races each year. Whether you choose one of these events or find your own, implement these tips for finishing strong.  

Alabama


Race: King's Home Hope Run
Distance: 5K
Location: Chelsea, Alabama
Month: November
Why It's Great: Race proceeds benefit King's Home, a non-profit charity that helps to provide hope and healing to abused women and children throughout Alabama.

Alaska


Race: Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Distance: 5K
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Month: December
Why It's Great: Proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation to further arthritis research. Many racers showcase their holiday spirit by dressing up in winter-themed costumes and tying jingle bells to their shoelaces.


Image via Jingle Bell Run

Arizona


Race: Salute to Heroes Family 5K Run
Distance: 5K
Location: El Mirage, Arizona
Month: November
Why It's Great: In lieu of a race entry fee, the organizers ask that runners make a donation to their favorite veteran charity, or can donate at the event. The race is held at beautiful Gateway Park.

Arkansas


Race: White River Marathon
Distance: 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon
Location: Cotter, Arkansas
Month: November
Why It's Great: In conjunction with World Vision, the event raises thousands of dollars each year for the town of Katito, Kenya, providing clean water, clothing and other living essentials. The flat course runs along the scenic White River in the town of Cotter.

California


Race: Lupus Race for Life
Distance: 5K, 1 Mile Kids' Run
Location: Mirada, California
Month: December
Why It's Great: Hosted by Lupus International, the race helps to raise funds for women and men afflicted with lupus. The scenic, shaded course meanders through La Mirada Regional Park.

Colorado


Race: Dash to End Domestic Violence
Distance: 5K
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Month: April
Why It's Great: This race is designed to increase awareness of domestic violence and to raise funds for TESSA, an organization providing services to local victims.

Connecticut


Race: CancerCare Walk/Run for Hope
Distance: 5K, Half Mile Kids' Run
Location: Greenwich, Connecticut
Month: April
Why It's Great: Proceeds benefit CancerCare, an organization that offers free professional services to those facing a cancer diagnosis.


Image via CancerCare Walk/Run for Hope

Delaware


Race: Athletes to End Alzheimer's
Distance: 5K
Location: Bethany Beach, Delaware
Month: August
Why It's Great: Held in downtown Bethany Beach, this scenic race benefits the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley chapter.

Florida


Race: Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure
Distance: 5K
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Month: January
Why It's Great: The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Series is the largest and most successful breast cancer fundraising event in the world. One hundred percent of all proceeds are used to raise awareness, to boost education and screening and to celebrate survivors and those who have lost their battle.


Image via Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Georgia


Race: Habitat Hero 5K
Distance: 5K
Location: Milledgeville, Georgia
Month: April
Why It's Great: Proceeds benefit the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for families in need. The course winds along the beautiful Oconee River Greenway.

Hawaii


Race: Run for Hope Hualalai
Distance: 5K, 10K
Location: Hualalai, Hawaii
Month: September
Why It's Great: This annual event raises funds and awareness for cancer research—and it helps that it takes place at the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.


Image via Run for Hope Hualalai

Idaho


Race: Mutt Strut for Snake River Animal Hospital
Distance: 5K
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Month: September
Why It's Great: The race benefits the Snake River Animal Shelter, which works to promote animal adoption, welfare and education.

Illinois


Race: Kick Abuse 5K
Distance: 5K
Location: Edwards, Illinois
Month: April
Why It's Great: Proceeds benefit the Pediatric Resource Center, which is committed to meeting the medical needs of abused and neglected children.

Indiana


Race: Autism Evansville Walk & 5K
Distance: 5K
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Month: April
Why It's Great: This charitable run benefits Autism Evansville, which works to help families affected by autism.


Image via Autism Evansville Walk & 5K

Iowa


Race: Dubuque Diabetes Dash
Distance: 5K
Location: Dubuque, Iowa
Month: April
Why It's Great: In conjunction with the Iowa chapter of the JDRF, this race raises funds to promote research and to provide an educational and recreational camp for local children with diabetes.

Kansas


Race: Dog 'n Jog
Distance: 1.5K, 5K, 10K, 1.5K
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Month: April
Why It's Great: Hosted by the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, this event raises funds to provide guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs for those with disabilities and other therapy and facility dogs.

Kentucky


Race: Over My Head
Distance: 5K
Location: Somerset, Kentucky
Month: June
Why It's Great: All registration fees benefit Over My Head, a local homeless shelter serving Somerset and Pulaski county.

Louisiana


Race: Minden Run for St. Jude
Distance: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon
Location: Minden, Louisiana
Month: February
Why It's Great: This annual race benefits the Louisiana chapter of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which works to provide education, treatment and prevention of childhood cancer and other juvenile diseases.

Maine


Race: Sailors & Sirens 5K
Distance: 1K Fun Run, 5K
Location: Kennebunk, Maine
Month: June
Why It's Great: Runners dress up as mermaids and seafarers to run a picturesque course on the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery, winding down to the waterfront. Proceeds benefit the fight against blood cancer, hosted by The Downeast Divas, which work to raise funds for cancer research, patient support and advocacy.

Maryland


Race: Run & Fun Walk for Hospice
Distance: 5K, 10K
Location: Leonardtown, Maryland
Month: April
Why It's Great: Since 1996, this event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Hospice of St. Mary's County, which provides care, comfort and support to terminally ill residents.

Massachusetts


Race: Cape Abilities Harbor Walk and Fun Run
Distance: 2.2 Miles
Location: Hyannis, Massachusetts
Month: May
Why It's Great: This event benefits Cape Abilities, a non-profit Cape Cod organization that helps people with disabilities access jobs, homes and therapeutic services. Starting on the Village Green in front of the town hall, the flat, scenic course offers picturesque water views.

Michigan


Race: Steps to Freedom
Distance: 5K
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Month: March
Why It's Great: Proceeds go to The House of Promise, an organization that is raising funds to build a home for young girls recovering from sexual abuse and trafficking.

Minnesota


Race: New Hope Women of Today 5K
Distance: 5K
Location: New Hope, Minnesota
Month: April
Why It's Great: New Hope Women of Today is a non-profit organization made up of a diverse group of community-minded, philanthropic women. They host the race to raise funds for various local charities, which have included The Preeclampsia FoundationTEAM Mental HealthKody's Closet and The 30-Days Foundation.

Mississippi


Race: Make a Difference 5K
Distance: 5K
Location: Ridgeland, Mississippi
Month: February
Why It's Great: Proceeds benefit the Friends of Children's Hospital for the Blair E. Batson's Children's Hospital at University Medical Center. FOCH holds fundraising events to help improve healthcare for sick and injured children.

                                Image via Make a Difference 5K

Missouri


Race: Children's TLC Groundhog Run
Distance: 5K, 10K
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Month: January
Why It's Great: Since 1982, the Groundhog Run has raised more than $4.5 million for children with special needs. Held at the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, the race offers pleasant running temperatures in the mid-sixties.


Image via Groundhog Run


Montana


Race: Race for Independence
Distance: 1K, 5K, 10K
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Month: July
Why It's Great: This sojourn through the trails of north Bozeman benefits Reach, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to empowering adults with developmental disabilities.

Nebraska


Race: Set Me Free Run
Distance: 1 Mile Kids' Fun Run, 5K, 10K
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Month: July
Why It's Great: All proceeds from the race go toward The Set Me Free Project, a non-profit organization that works to raise awareness, education and prevention of human trafficking.

Nevada


Race: Free to Breathe Run/Walk
Distance: 1 Mile Walk, 5K Run/Walk
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Month: May
Why It's Great: Registration fees are used to fund research, education and awareness to help increase lung cancer survival rates.

New Hampshire


Race: Rescue Run for Marine Mammals
Distance: Half-Mile Kids' Run, 5K
Location: Rye, New Hampshire
Month: April
Why It's Great: Save the seals by running or walking along a cross-country coastal trail, which winds through scenic Odiorne State Park.

New Jersey


Race: Rubin Run
Distance: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon
Location: Tenafly, New Jersey
Month: May
Why It's Great: All proceeds benefit the JCC of Central New Jersey, a non-profit organization that provides people with special needs with valuable life-enhancing skills that enable them to reach their full potential.

New Mexico


Race: Run with Your Doc
Distance: 1 Mile, 5K, 10K
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Month: February
Why It’s Great: Proceeds go to St. Luke’s Health Care for the Homeless, a network of medical professionals who volunteer their time to provide healthcare for the local homeless. The course runs around the Doña Ana Community College campus against stunning views of the Organ Mountains.

New York


Race: Little Cow Harbor 4-Mile Run for Hope
Distance: Kids' Fun Run, 4 Mile Run
Location: Greenlawn, New York
Month: March
Why It's Great: This race benefits St. Hugh's Project H.O.P.E., a community ministry that holds food drives, Sunday suppers and mobile soup kitchens for the hungry, homeless and unemployed people in the Huntington area.

North Carolina


Race: Ocean Isle Beach Run for Food
Distance: 5K, Half Marathon
Location: Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina
Month: January
Why It's Great: Your registration fee will benefit the South Brunswick Interchurch Council Food Pantry. The course meanders through beautiful Ocean Isle Beach, with stunning views from the Ocean Isle Beach Bridge.

North Dakota


Race: Run 4 Change–Deutscher Family Memorial
Distance: 1K, 5K, 10K
Location: Bismarck, North Dakota
Month: April
Why It's Great: In memory of the Deutscher family, who were killed by a drunk driver in 2012, this event is dedicated to raising awareness and the prevention of drinking and driving. Proceeds benefit local organizations, such as Safe Communities Coalition and SADD.

Ohio


Race: Butterfly Walk & 5K for CancerFree Kids
Distance: 1 Mile Walk, 5K, 10K
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Month: May
Why It's Great: Proceeds go to CancerFree Kids, a parent-founded, non-profit organization that raises funds for childhood cancer research.

Oklahoma


Race: Run for Recovery
Distance: 5K, 10K
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Month: February
Why It's Great: This charity race funds a program that helps to prevent teenage substance abuse and to help teens recover from addiction. The course follows the scenic Lake Hefner Trail.

Oregon


Race: Crush Cancer
Distance: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon
Location: Terrebonne, Oregon
Month: September
Why It's Great: Where else can you raise funds to eradicate cancer while running through gorgeous vineyards and farmland against the backdrop of the Three Sisters Mountains?

Pennsylvania


Race: Get Your Rear in Gear
Distance: Kids' Fun Run, 2 Mile Run, 4 Mile Run
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Month: March
Why It's Great: Produced by the Colon Cancer Coalition, this event raises money to further research to find a cure for colon cancer.

Rhode Island


Race: Run for the Fallen
Distance: 5K
Location: Bristol, Rhode Island
Month: September
Why It's Great: All race proceeds benefit annual events to recognize local heroes who have lost their lives protecting our country's freedoms since September 11, 2001.

South Carolina


Race: Red Shoe Run
Distance: 5K, 10K
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Month: January
Why It's Great: In conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, South Carolina, this race provides funds to help families care for critically ill or injured children.

South Dakota


Race: Avera Race Against Breast Cancer
Distance: 1.5 Mile Run, 3 Mile Run, 5K, 10K
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Month: May
Why It's Great: This long-standing race unites cancer survivors and supporters in the goal of furthering cancer care and research in the local community.


Image via Avera Race Against Breast Cancer

Tennessee


Race: Hike2Heal
Distance: 5K
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Month: April
Why It's Great: This benefit race donates all proceeds to healthcare for students at Raise the Roof Academy in Uganda. Funds are used for immunizations, antimalarial treatment and preventative medical care.

Texas


Race: Run with Heart
Distance: 1 Mile Run, 5K, Half Marathon
Location: Mansfield, Texas
Month: January
Why It's Great: All proceeds benefit the Heart of the Community program, which works to promote local heart disease education and prevention, and also supports cardiology services at the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

Utah


Race: Race to Reduce Bullying
Distance: Fun Run, 5K
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Month: March
Why It's Great: Hosted by Playworks, this race benefits the organization's efforts to support positive, inclusive play for children at local elementary schools.

Vermont


Race: Covered Bridges Half Marathon
Distance: Half Marathon
Location: Woodstock, Vermont
Month: June
Why It's Great: As if you needed another reason to run through some of Vermont's most scenic covered bridges, all proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that specialize in services for people with dementia.


Image via Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Virginia


Race: CASA Superhero Run
Distance: 5K, Kids' Fun Run
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Month: April
Why It's Great: Hosted by Court Appointed Special Advocates, this event raises money to help find safe, permanent homes for abused and neglected children who are involved in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court process.


Image via CASA Superhero Run

Washington


Race: Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes
Distance: 1 Mile Run, 3 Mile Run, 8K
Location: Washougal, Washington
Month: May
Why It's Great: Runners attempt to cross over Seattle's University Bridge before it's raised. If they don't beat it, they can enjoy a live band while waiting for it to come back down. Race proceeds benefit the JDRF, the world's biggest fundraising organization for type 1 diabetes.


Image via Beat the Bridge

West Virginia


Race: Run the Fight
Distance: 1 Mile Walk, 5K
Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Month: July
Why It's Great: In memorial of local educator Sherry Shumaker, this event raises funds for The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, which works to advance research, awareness and support for this life-threatening disease.

Wisconsin


Race: Parkinson's Half Marathon and 5K
Distance: 5K, Half Marathon, 1 Mile Walk, Kids' Fun Run
Location: Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
Month: April
Why It's Great: The race benefits the Wisconsin chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association, which supports those affected by Parkinson's and works to further research and education efforts.


Image via Parkinson's Half Marathon

Wyoming


Race: Hear in Color 5K Glow Fun Run
Distance: 5K
Location: N. Poplar Casper, Wyoming
Month: September
Why It's Great: Put on by the Wyoming Families for Hands & Voices, this event raises awareness of hearing loss and healing health. Proceeds help hearing-impaired children get access to hearing devices.

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Member Comments

  • I don't live in the States but found this interesting anyways.
  • SUNDEVILS1
    For Arizona I also suggest Pat's Run, a 4.2 mile race which honors Pat Tillman and benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation, offering scholarships for veterans and their spouses. Pat is one of my heroes along with the tens of thousands who participate and volunteer every year.

About The Author

Melissa Rudy Melissa Rudy
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into online writing in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

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