Over twenty-five years ago, Bruce Cleland put together a team to raise money and run a marathon, all in honor of his daughter, Georgia, a Leukemia survivor. One father’s passion for supporting a cause close to him turned into the Team in Training program, a powerhouse of runners, walkers, and triathletes that have raised more than $1.3 billion for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s research and patient support efforts. Now, thousands of people raise money for charity and participate in endurance events each year.
If your goal is to get fit in 2013, consider fundraising for charity while you get in shape. The added motivation can keep you moving, all while supporting a meaningful cause.
Get Support and Give Back
Anyone who’s run a marathon, or cheered on distance runners, has seen the armies of purple shirted Team in Training runners, coaches, and cheerleaders – all Team in Training athletes and supporters. My friends who’ve participated in Team in Training have loved the camaraderie that comes with training alongside others committed to the same good cause, and benefited from the support of the coaching staff. Team in Training has the experience and support to make it easy for anyone to run (or walk) a marathon, bike a hundred miles, or finish a first triathlon.
Run for Mothers
One thing that’s more motivating than making a 6 am running date with a good friend is running to help save lives. If you’re passionate about reducing maternal mortality in rural areas around the world, consider running for Every Mother Counts. The Zooma Women’s Race Series takes place in five spots around the country, with events from 5k to half marathons, and has selected Every Mother Counts as its charitable partner. You can race a distance you choose, and help support Every Mother Counts’ work providing transportation to health care and training midwives.
Get Fit as a Family
Many local 5ks have a kids fun run, so you can do a 5k and your preschool or elementary-aged child can sprint a mile or two. The Children’s Museum in Denver has taken it one step further with Hop Skip & a Jump Start - it includes an Infant Crawl and a Toddler Trot, as well as a 5k for stroller pushers. My five-year-old still has the red ribbon from his first kids’ fun run a few years ago, and he loved having the chance to cheer on grown up runners, and then be cheered on himself.
Share Your Shoes
If you’ve got a pair of shoes that just don’t fit you quite right, consider sending those gently-used kicks to Shoe4Africa, who will then share them with another runner across the globe.
Run, walk, or bike your way to better fitness and more cash for a cause – each mile you run and log on Charity Miles will earn twenty-five centers for a nonprofit you select, whether it’s the Wounded Warrior Project or Feeding America. With three kids five and under, I can’t find the time to train for another marathon for awhile, but until I can, I’m glad that the few runs I squeeze in each week can be a little more meaningful, through Charity Miles.