08/04/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2014

Making a Difference in the World of Giving: The Summer-Athon Season

Summer is in full swing! The sights and sounds of summer are everywhere and include music and food festivals, baseball and softball games, eating outdoors at restaurants or picnics and, of course, the 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 (breast cancer) or Easter Seals' Walk with Me for Autism. Such races raise both funds and awareness about their respective disease or illness.

Some might say it is too late to participate but I would counter with that now is the perfect time for you to get involved and be Making A Difference!

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 produced hundreds of walkathons, marathons and bikeathons taking place in the summer months of June, July and August in the northern part of the US and all throughout the year in other parts of 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. Go to

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. Go to the MS website.

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is their signature fundraising event! This is a team event where participants run or walk to raise money. Check it out at

Some might be turned off by the requirement to raise money for some of these "-athons," or claim that it is too hard to participate. And still others would say that their time is too precious to dedicate this amount needed for these events. I counter and say the benefits far outweigh whatever real or perceived costs, in terms of money and time, that occurs when participating.

There are many benefits to you for participating in a charity walk, run or biking event, including the following:

• Charity Walks/Runs/Rides are good for health! Get out and train; exercising 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 (5) recommendations and tips on easy ways to be Making A Difference:
1. Find a walk/run/ride for a cause you care about; utilize the Internet or call the nonprofit organization whose cause has touched your life or piqued you interest.
2. 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; others do not.
3. Do your part to raise funds! Share what you are doing to support the cause with family, co-workers and others asking them to support your fundraising efforts. Remember, if you don't ask them, they can't say "YES!"
4. Set reasonable goals...both for the amount of dollars you will raise and how far you will walk/run/ want to be successful.
5. 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 fantastic way to honor a family member or friend impacted by a serious illness. These events are easy ways to become 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?