Connections for Success



Making a Difference: The World of Giving
Lisa Dietlin

Summer has arrived in Chicago!  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 contests raise both funds and awareness about an organization’s cause.

The idea of people raising money for charity by walking, running or bicycling began in 1970 when the March of Dimes organized 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 more than 75 walkathons, marathons and bikeathons taking place annually in Chicago alone!  The following is a sample of local nonprofit organizations and their walking, running or biking fundraising events:

  • The Chicago Marathon supports numerous charities, including The American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross.  For more information, visit
  • Headquartered in Chicago, the Alzheimer Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s has been the nation’s largest event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s care, support and research since 1988.  Go to
  • Avon’s Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago has participants walking along Lake Michigan and viewing stunning architecture as they raise money for a cure.  Check it out at
  • The Greater Illinois Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS) has its Bike MS: Tour De Farms.  It’s an opportunity to bike 35, 50, 75 or 100 miles while raising money to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.  Visit
  • The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life is its signature fundraising event.  This is a team event where participants can either walk or run to raise money.  Check it out at

Benefits to You

The benefits of participating in a charity walk, run or biking event, include:

  • Charity walks/runs/rides are good for your health!  Get out and train; exercising will improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Charity walks/runs/rides are a way to do something fun and meaningful while bonding with your friends and/or family.
  • Charity walks/runs/rides are a great way to raise money for your favorite cause or nonprofit organization while doing something you love!

Make a Difference – Top 5 Tips

  1. Find a walk/run/ride for a cause you care about.   Surf the Internet or call the nonprofit organization to learn more about their mission or find out how you can make a difference.
  2. Become knowledgeable and get the facts on the expectations and requirements of getting involved with an organization.  Some walks/runs/ rides require the participants to raise a specific amount in donations 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.  Ask 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/ride…you want to be successful.
  5. Ask your employer to become a financial supporter of the cause.

Support your favorite charitable cause by participating in their walkathon, marathon or bikeathon.  These events are a way to support a family member, friend or coworker who may be living with an illness or honor the memory of someone who has lost their battle.

Remember, you can Make a Difference!

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