05/26/2011 03:07 pm ET | Updated Jul 26, 2011

Making a Difference: The World of Giving -- Running, Walking or Biking for Charity

Summer has arrived and that doesn't just mean warmer weather! Signs of summer are everywhere and include music and food festivals, baseball and softball games, eating outdoors either at restaurants or picnics, and, of course, numerous walkathons, marathons and bikeathons for charity!

It seems as if every weekend you can participate in an "-athon" type fundraiser for a nonprofit organization. Many of these endurance events are fundraisers to benefit health related organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that benefits breast cancer research, or Easter Seals' Walk With Me for Autism. Such contests raise both funds and awareness about their respective disease or illness.

The idea of people raising money for charity by walking, running or bicycling began in 1970 when the March of Dimes organized and launched its first WalkAmerica event. It was such a success that the idea was copied, adopted and adapted by many nonprofit organizations.

A quick search on the Internet produces hundreds of walkathons, marathons and bikeathons taking place in the months of June, July and August throughout the country. Here are some area nonprofits and their walking, running or biking fundraising events including websites so you can participate:

  • Headquartered in Chicago, the Alzheimer's Association "Walk to End Alzheimer's". Since 1988 it's been the nation's largest event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer's care, support and research.

  • Avon's Walk for Breast Cancer takes place throughout the country on various dates.
  • Many of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS) chapters have bikeathons scheduled during the summer. It's an opportunity to bike 35, 50, 75 or 100 miles while raising money to rid of the world of this disease.
  • The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is their signature fundraising event! This is a team event with participants being able to run or walk to raise money.
  • The benefits of participating in a charity walk, run or biking event including:

    • Charity Walks/Runs/Rides are good for health! When you get out and train, the exercise will improve your physical and mental well being!

  • Charity Walks/Runs/Rides are a way to do something for good with your girlfriends and/or sisters!
  • Charity Walks/Runs/Rides are a great way to raise money for your favorite cause or nonprofit organization while doing something you love!
  • Here are five recommendations and tips on easy ways to make a difference:

    1. Find a walk/run/ride for a cause you care about: utilize the Internet or call the nonprofit organization.

  • Become clear and knowledgeable on the expectation and requirements. Some walks/runs/rides require the participants to raise a specific amount and/or pay a registration fee, and others do not.
  • Do your part to raise funds! Share what you are doing to support the cause with family, coworkers and others by asking them to support your fundraising efforts. Remember, if you don't ask them, they can't say "YES!"
  • Set reasonable goals, both for the amount of dollars you will raise, and how far you will walk/run/ride. You want to be successful.
  • Ask your employer to become a financial support of the cause.
  • Support your favorite charitable cause by participating in their walkathon, marathon or bikeathon. These events are a way to honor a family member or friend who survived (or died) or who is living with an illness. These are easy ways to be involved in the philanthropic world!

    Remember, by doing any of the recommendations in this blog, you will definitely be M.A.D. (Making A Difference)! Are you M.A.D. today?