09/05/2013 01:12 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2013


Today is The United Nations Foundation's International Day of Charity. I am honored that they have asked me to write a short piece reflecting on what that means to me, and what I think is the "coolest" thing happening in philanthropy...

I started running marathons 11 years ago to raise money for Parkinson's research in honor of my grandfather who has the disease.

At the outset, I thought of this as a publicity stunt: challenge myself to something so outrageous that my friends would donate -- if for no other reason than because they wanted to dare me to go through with it.

But each successive race seemed less outrageous. My friends all knew I was going to finish. Many of them were even getting in on the action -- if not with marathons, then with half marathons, 10ks, triathlons and mud races.

Of course, we're not the only ones. The last decade has seen a boom in people moving to raise money for charity. Nearly 12 million Americans walked, ran or biked for charity last year, collectively raising over $1.5 billion.

To me, this is the coolest thing happening in philanthropy. But it's not just about the money. It's about the purpose we wear into our soles each day, the people we bring with us on our journeys, and the metaphor of 12 million people physically and spiritually striving for a better world.

So this International Day of Charity, please lace up and join us. You don't have to run far or fast. You don't even have to ask your friends for money. Just carry a cause in your heart for at least a mile and see where the road takes you. As we like to say at Charity Miles, #EveryMileMatters!