Running races can be a fantastic way to meet goals, stay healthy and fit, bond with others, and see new places. However, it can also be a great way to make a difference in someone’s life or honor a particular cause by running your race or event for charity.
Running for Charity
Running for charity has actually grown to be a significant portion of many charities’ donation base. There are some large charities that actually have teams and multiple slots in marathons to get their message out and raise money for the cause. Not only is it great for the charity, but it is a wonderful way for the runner to use his or her event to raise some money for a cause near their heart. Running races, especially longer races, can really push someone to their limits so it is a natural extension to use that pushing/self-imposed suffering as a way to feel just a little bit of pain as the runner runs on behalf of another person/organization.
Why Run For Charity?
There are many reasons to run for a charity and all of them are good and valid! You obviously do not need just one reason to run for a charity – many of these might apply to your reasoning.
A Cause Close to Home
Many people have family members or close friends who have been affected by some disease or sickness. Running for the charity that supports that cause is a great way to raise money for that cause. It is also a way to keep the illness in front of your family and friends so that they remember what the person in your life is going through. It is also a great way to honor that person with your athletic effort.
There are many people who have had illnesses themselves and overcome them. Being able to run for the charity organization that helps with research and to help others with that illness is a great way to give back. It is also a way to celebrate that you have been able to overcome the illness while remembering those that continue to suffer with the illness.
Honor the Military
There are many charities that support and assist military families who have suffered the loss of their military hero or assist the military hero who has been harmed in the way of war. What a wonderful gesture of support for those who have sacrificed greatly to wear our nation’s uniform on our behalf! To be able to run and support such an organization gives you a great way to give back a bit and thank those who have given so much.
Connecting with a Purpose
For some people, simply running races is not enough. They need to have some way that they are able to help and impact those around them. Running for a charity gives those people that push and encouragement they need to allow them to enjoy the event and run with a purpose for others.
Many charities actually have incentive programs in place to thank you for running to help raise money for the charity. These incentive packages are tiered to the amount that you raise for the cause and normally start with something like a charity jersey as the base level all the way up to things like paying for your race and the travel to the marathon. If you enjoy challenges, you could pick a charity and use those incentives to help you raise money that will benefit the charity and help you with your race fees or other fees.
To Get Into a Marathon
There are some marathons that have lotteries or qualification terms to get in. Often, the only other way to get into those races is by running on behalf of a charity and raising a minimum amount of money. For instance, if you want to run the Chicago Marathon, the only way you will be able to do it this year is to sign-up with one of those charities.
Picking A Charity
There are the big charities like LIVESTRONG and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Team in Training) that are geared towards athletic fundraising activities. In fact, Team in Training as great programs in place to help you learn and train with other, like-minded individuals while fundraising. They even provide coaches to help you reach your race goal as well as the fundraising goal. If that is something you need, choosing that charity can be a major help.
There are other charities that are tied directly to the different marathons. If you have already picked your marathon or signed up for it, go to the charity page on the marathon site to find out which charities they have teamed up with. Next, contact them and inform them that you are running that particular marathon and would like to help raise money.
Finally, as mentioned in the section above, there are charities that can actually give you a race bib when the race is already closed. Races like Boston, New York, and Chicago all have extra slots available to charity runners, even after the regular registration is filled up. However, be aware – by signing up for these marathon slots, you are also guaranteeing that you will raise the minimum amount for the charity or else you will be on the hook for that amount. For some charities, that amount can be $5,000! Only sign-up this way if you know you can raise the amount!
Running is fun but running a race for charity can be even more fulfilling. The charities I have selected have been ones that I had a personal connection to and having the image of the friend in my mind when running the race really helped me to push. My first 50 mile race was done to raise money for a cancer organization on behalf of a young friend. He had given me one of his bracelets before the race and I wore that thing the whole day. When it would get hard, I would look down at that bracelet and think about the hardships he had to go through and it would motivate me to push harder.
I am actually very close to beginning fundraising for a charity for my upcoming Pharaoh’s race. The charity is one that provides research for a terrible condition that a young friend is suffering right now. Being able to do something to help with that by giving my body a little pain (and money) is a great feeling and a way that I choose to honor this friend and her family. I can tell you – it makes running races completely different!