If you’ve been running any time at all – yes, we’re looking at you, too, new runners – you know how much this simple activity provides so much. The joy, the release, the endorphins, the escape… they’re things we all need in these complicated times. And running’s impact on the Charlotte community goes much further. So does the running community’s support. Running really is a gift. Here are some of the ways to pay it forward.
As you’re planning your holiday gifting, or how your own running can be something beyond personal… consider some of these local organizations that are setting the pace.
Running can have a transformative effect on people’s lives, and RunningWorks proves this where the rubber – pardon the pun – meets the road. The nonprofit gives Charlotte’s homeless population an avenue to take control of their lives with life skills learned through mentoring and the health and wellness of running.
To give: https://runningworks.org/donate/
Girls on the Run
Sometimes all it takes to turn sedentary kids into active ones is opportunity and encouragement. Girls on the Run, founded in Charlotte, became a national phenomenon based on this premise. The popular afterschool program teaches girls about inner strength, confidence, and their own health and fitness by teaching skills of character, care, and self-reliance through running.
Let Me Run
If you’ve heard of Girls on the Run, you may know there is a similar group for boys called Let Me Run. The founder is a GOTR coach and mother of two boys who wanted to challenge the “Boy Code” of toughness with a safe space for young boys to be themselves. The non-profit program encourages boys in 4th through 8th grade to be healthy, build relationships, and live active lifestyles with skills learned through running and positive communication.
To give: https://letmerun.org/donate
Cross Country for Youth
The great outdoors feels even greater when you’re running, and Cross Country for Youth introduces young people to cross-country and character-building concepts with twice-a-week training. The non-profit for 9- to 14- year-olds (4th – 8th grades) teaches endurance, flexibility, and character development through group runs, stretching, and focused talks about Integrity, Respect, Sportsmanship, Responsibility, Perseverance, Teamwork, Commitment, Courage, Discipline and Leadership.
To Give: https://crosscountryforyouth.org/
Running a marathon or taking part in other sports is a big enough challenge for most people, but now imagine you are training or competing with a visual impairment that doesn’t let you see the crowd or bumps in the road as clearly as the other athletes. Para Guides allows athletes with visual disabilities to train and compete in swimming, cycling, running, or group activities by pairing them with another athlete or coach who guides their way, even providing transportation if they have none.
To give: https://www.paraguide.org/
Black Girls Run
Black Girls Run was launched in 2009 to encourage and motivate black women to practice a healthy lifestyle, and to battle what the nonprofit calls the “growing obesity epidemic” in the African-American community. The group is a fitness resource for runners and gym rats alike, to get ALL women off the couch and get active, regardless of race, and create a movement to lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Speed for Need
This nonprofit was created with inclusiveness in mind. Trained drivers (runners) share races with their special needs Track Commanders (riders) by pushing them in customized racing wheelchairs. Speed for Need has a mission to raise awareness and foster inclusion of those with a special need, supported by the men of F3 Nation.
To Give: https://speedforneed.org/
Samaritan’s Feet believes that a new a pair of shoes can provide a tangible foundation of hope, and decrease the possibility of getting a foot-borne disease. Since its founding in 2003, this Charlotte-based non-profit and partners have distributed over 7.5 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and over 420 U.S. cities.
The Hemby Foundation is the charitable entity that supports the Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital, beneficiaries of the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon. While not technically a running nonprofit, they fight hard to protect and preserve the health of our children so they can grow strong and run someday!