Running for Life: Helping the Runner, Helping the Community (Guest Post)

Jackie Clark is the Community Outreach Coordinator for CancerAlliance. She recently contacted me and asked if I would be willing to share a guest post on the topic of various marathons that are held each year as fundraisers for cancer patients. Here it is!

Jackie Like most Americans I had struggled with my weight since I was in middle school. I was always the girl picked last in gym class and never played sport because frankly I was too heavy. It wasn’t until after college and loosing a close friend that I decided to get into shape. I started running. I ran and I ran, I was running as a way to clear my head and in the process I was shedding those unnecessary pounds. I finally realized that I could combine my weight loss efforts and fight cancer at the same time. I started researching various marathons and found dozens are out there. I started slow with half marathons at 13.1 miles and am still working my way up to a full marathon. My plan is to run in the Golden Gate Triathlon in June of 2012.

As a new marathon runner I knew what it was like, raising money, training hours a day, and having the emotional stress of every day life as well. Due to this, I decided to change things up and step out of my comfort zone yet again. I had the idea to organize a charity run for a close friend who passed away from cancer. Below outlines the steps needed to organize an effective and profitable run.

The first thing to do is to take inventory of the people who need to be involved in the planning stages. This can include everyone from running partners, business associates, or owners of companies interested in sponsoring the run. These people should plan to meet at a specific location at a certain time and discuss logistics. Perhaps over a series of several meetings, these people should discuss how many people to plan for, what charity to support, and the day of the event. Having companies sponsor the race can be a huge boon for both advertisers and for the event runners. If the event is going to be somewhat smaller, it may be best to simply charge each runner a registration fee, and use the proceeds to support overhead costs and the charities themselves. Law enforcement should also be notified of these plans, to account for any possible obstructions or limitations.

Picking a charity to run for can be a challenge in and of itself. Breast cancer is often a popular choice. If the organizers wish to donate to this charity, there may be trademark issues associated with the famous pink ribbon and certain expressions. Obesity is also a popular cause, partially because running is a solution in and of itself. With over 60 million obese Americans, this issue is the number two cause of preventable death across the country. Less well known is the disease of mesothelioma. This malignant cancer occurs in individuals exposed to asbestos, which was at one time thought to be harmless. This tragic illness can suck thousands of dollars from individuals seeking treatment, and any money given to such charities is definitely going to a worthy cause.

Once size, cost, and all the other logistical factors are set in place, promotion becomes the biggest issue. Unless organizers are trying to limit the size of their event, getting everyone and every company who would be interested is advisable. This means going to local newspapers and TV stations, scouting for volunteers, putting up flyers in athletic supply shops, or even just putting up flyers around town. Sponsorships are always a great way to add publicity and acquire donations as well as other free goods, such as water, hats, towels, or other items.

On the day of the race, there will most likely be observers as well as runners. Whoever shows up, it is important that they be handled respectfully. The most important aspect of a run is enjoyment, and with proper planning, this will happen on its own. Hope to see some of you across the finish line!

If you are interested in contacting Jackie, you can do so via @JakieClrk

Have you ever run for a cause? Which one(s)?

Thanks Jackie!

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6 thoughts on “Running for Life: Helping the Runner, Helping the Community (Guest Post)

  1. I love that races can be used for so many important issues, both raising awareness and financial support. I’m doing my first “Run for a Reason” charity at the Houston half, for the MS Foundation. My dad was diagnosed with MS when I was in college, so I’m excited to make this personal connection to my running.

  2. I do like that there are now so many organization partnering w/ races. A win/win if you ask me! I have run for the Ulman Cancer Fund and for Team Sadie, a local effort that benefits the Hopkins NICU.

  3. I have never raced with a team for a support cause, but I was asked once if I wanted to coach for a Chrones team (I had to turn it down due to logistics).

  4. I’ll be doing my first race “for a cause” (besides the races we’ve done where the ‘profits’ are donated to a cause) this March, and I’m really excited about it – it’s not for cancer, but it is for people who have had life altering experiences and need to get back on track 🙂 It’s inspiring to see them make the decision to change, and to be behind the funds that really allow them to grow.

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