MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Run, Walk, Bike for Charity

Have you seen the movie Selma? If you haven’t, please go. Whatever your opinion of the alleged historical inaccuracies, Selma is a must-see as it’s powerful and inspiring. The thing that moved me most is how well David Oyelo portrayed Dr. King and his conviction, empathy, and ambition. I left asking myself “what are you doing to make a difference?” (King joined the Civil Rights movement in his twenties) and “what do you believe in that you would publicly work to prompt change in the lives of others?”

Even as a runner, I’ve always questioned the effectiveness of the walk, run, and bike for a cause movement. I believed if the charity got its money, what difference does it make if you show up to walk, run, or bike? After running with Fred’s Team and watching Selma (and listening to sermons at church), I was reminded that a belief with actions is dead. If you aren’t willing to act publicly and invite others to join you in your cause, you don’t really believe it at all. There’s also something to be said about the power of the collective. Not only do people take notice when you stand in solidarity, but the collective is like a braid. The individual strands are never as strong as a woven braid, and if one strand frays the others hold it together.

Today, as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he did to prompt change in our lives, I challenge you to also publicly proclaim your beliefs and walk, run, bike, or even eat, to make a difference. Be willing to make people slightly uncomfortable (I believe there is no change without discomfort!), and challenge them to step out of their comfort zones. Ask them to walk with you, donate money, or just imagine life from someone else’s perspective. Here are just a few worthy causes…

Cycle For Survival Join the Battle

If you like spin…
Cycle For Survival – this is the spin party of the year. Grab a few friends and spin for four hours celebrating life and raising funds for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering . Read about my experience at Cycle For Survival 2014. Cycle for Survival teams are required to raise $1,000 per bike, or a minimum of $4,000 for Cycle for Survival Extreme. Satellite bikes have no fundraising requirement (this option is for folks who can’t actually attend a local Cycle for Survival event). Events take place year ’round – find your local Cycle For Surival ride.

If you like the stair master…
Climb to the Top on March 1, 2015 – climb 66 flights of stairs of to the Top of the Roc Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. Raise funds and awareness for the NYC Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and experience an amazing view of New York City. Teams must consist of a minimum of three members, and fundraise at least $250 per person.

If you like biking…
TD Five Boro Bike Tour on May 3, 2015- registration for the world’s largest charitable ride opens tomorrow at 12 pm EST. It’s a great way to see NYC car-free and raise money for the city’s bike education program. Registration is is $92+ or you can raise money for a variety of other charity partners.

If you like to mentor…
Girls On The Run – there isn’t one particular event, but this organization is on a mission to educate and empower girls 13+ through running. According to, “the program combines training for a 5k race with positive emotional, mental, and physical development to transform the way these girls see themselves, their opportunities, and their potential.”

If you are a foodie…
Time Out For Hunger – Time Out New York and Food Bank for New York City have partnered once again to bring you Time Out For Hunger. For one day, participating restaurants in all all five boroughs of NYC will donate 10% of sales to the Food Bank of New York City. Date is TBD, but make sure to make that date night.

If you are passionate about making a difference internationally…
Team Living Water – Join local endurance activities and races to provide clean water in developing countries. Find a race near you, or organize your own. Learn more about Team Living Water, which supports the religious non-profit Living Water International.

If you live in Atlanta…
The MLK Day 5K “Let Freedom Run” – this race was this past Saturday, but I hope you Lean Girls Club readers in Atlanta will consider it for next year. This race combines “fitness and fellowship” as diverse groups come to honor the late Dr. King in “the spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

I purposely didn’t list the major walks/runs that you may already know about: Revlon, Avon, Relay For Life, etc. I wanted to shed light on smaller organizations who are making a big difference in their communities and subsequently, the world. I’m not suggesting that fighting for civil rights and raising money for a rare disease are the same thing. But I know that my cause is improving people’s quality of life through exercise and encouraging words. That is why I am so passionate about fitness, in particular running, and Lean Girls Club. I truly believe that good health can and will improve someone’s life.

So, what are you passionate about? How do you publicly prompt change and make a difference in the world? And if you know of any upcoming runs that support worthy causes, please let me know. I’d love to check it out.


Related Posts

Grete’s Great Gallop
Cycle For Survival
NYC Marathon 2013 Recap
  • paulakiger

    Wow Grace these are all cool!!!! My feeling is that in addition to raising money, when we run/bike/walk for a cause, we are raising awareness and demonstrating support, and sometimes it is hard to put a price on that! I also recommend the Charity Miles app – when you use it, 25 cents per run/walked mile and 10 cents per cycled mile goes to a cause you choose (out of their selection of about 20 causes). Easy peasy!

    • @paulakiger – that’s such a great idea. I’ve heard of Charity Miles, but have never used it myself. Does the money come from our own bank accounts? Or who actually donates the money?

      • paulakiger

        Hi Grace. The money comes from various corporate sponsors. Previous sponsors have been Humana, Timex, and Lifeway Kefir. Nothing out of our own pockets! Always happy to answer any questions you (or anyone) has!

        • @paulakiger:disqus – thanks so much for this. i will definitely try it out. Aggie Runs, another blogger, tweeted me about it this morning too.

          • paulakiger

            Fabulous!!!! 🙂