Running for a cause

June 19, 2009 5:36:27 PM PDT
Some 45,000 runners toe the line at the start of the Chicago Marathon. For most it takes enormous dedication, and commitment to get there. For many first timers it is the realization of a long time goal. And some are running not only for themselves but for charity. And they are growing in numbers every year. They recently got some words of encouragement from two time Olympian Deena Kastor who plans to run Chicago in the fall. They are not only getting tips on training but also comparing notes on raising money.

"If you're running for one of the charity programs that gives you that extra inspiration that you know, I'm not just running for myself, but I'm running for someone else also," said Michael Chitwood, World Vision.

World Vision has the largest group of charity runners - nearly 1500 - and they're hoping to raise a $1.5 million for their relief efforts in Africa. Groups like Special Olympics are hoping to learn some of their secrets. They are partnering with the marathon for the first time this year.

"It's a bit more involved and life altering and life changing than inviting people to a dinner with silent auction and dancing which people have been doing for years and years," said Susan Nicholl, Special Olympics.

In 2002, there were 14 charities involved and they raised a little less than $3 million total. Last year, 110 charities had more than 6700 runners who raised well over $11 million. And this year they expect to do even better.

"I think for our participants it gives them an opportunity to really enhance that marathon experience by supporting one of our charities," said Carey Pinkowski, marathon race director.

The runners usually send out online requests to friends and family. It is an effective fundraising tool. And a motivating factor for the runner to finish the training and the marathon distance.

"Many of our runners are asthmatic themselves and so they're doing the marathon to prove to others in the community that they aren't stopped by their asthma," said Jamie Leavitt, Respiratory Health Association.

Most marathon training programs are getting underway this month. But the race sold out long ago. So the charity programs have another draw. The only way to get an entry at this point is from one of the charities. Many of them still have spots available until the deadline at the end of the month.

Check out John's blog on running.


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