Running truly is a gift. (Ask any runner who’s been forced to take some time off, right?) In Charlotte, there are a number of ways to pay that gift forward. Here’s our updated list, starting with programs for local youth. Each year, the list of opportunities to pay it forward grows – and that’s a good thing, too.
Your Local Public School’s Athletic Program
Your local school likely has cross country and track programs that are underfunded, and need your dollars to share the sport with marginalized kids. Simply contact the school of choice and ask about a booster club or foundation for the athletic department!
CMS Athletics site (with schools): CMS Athletics – Charlotte
Girls on the Run
The earlier we can teach girls to be active and healthy, the more likely they are to make good habits that last a lifetime. Girls on the Run, founded in Charlotte, became a national phenomenon based on this premise. The popular afterschool program offers the opportunity and encouragement girls need to learn about inner strength, confidence, and their own health and fitness at a crucial age. GOTR teaches 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. A new, reformulated-for-the-times curriculum addresses boys’ emotional needs brought on by the pandemic, in addition to its traditional format of challenging the “Boy Code.” The non-profit program, also founded in Charlotte and growing nationwide, 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: Let Me Run Donations | LetMeRun.org
Cross Country for Youth
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: Cross-Country For Youth
More Than Miles
Founded by our friends at Mad Miles, this new nonprofit 501(c)(3) aims to build and strengthen community. Their three pillars of focus are to provide resources to the community, promote educational advancement, and encourage acts of service.
Their More Than Miles scholarship was created to provide collegiate students the opportunity to develop professionally and socially while highlighting the importance of community in building successful networks.
Samaritan’s Feet believes that a new 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 8 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and over 440 U.S. cities.
To Give: Samaritans Feet
Black Men Run
Black Men Run is about more than just getting in the miles. This program aims to reverse negative health trends and increased health risks that plague Black males, by offering support and camaraderie through running. The organization’s mission is to encourage African American males to get out and be active. The Charlotte chapter of this national organization is active and open to all!
To give: Black Men Run: Home
Achilles International is a global organization operating in 18 countries including the US, that transforms the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connections. Since its founding in 1983, Achilles International has empowered over 150,000 athletes of all ages and ability levels to participate in endurance events around the globe. You’ve probably seen some of them at the finish of the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon!
NC Special Olympics
Special Olympics North Carolina held its first Games in 1970 with 400 participants and has since grown to be recognized globally as one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world. Nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities participate in Special Olympics North Carolina. Last year, we spoke with multi-sport track and field athlete, Philip Blount before his trip to the World Games – what a guy!
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 to get ALL women moving — regardless of race — and lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.
To give: BGR! Foundation
Running a marathon or taking part in other sports is a big enough challenge for most anyone. 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.
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: Speed for Need | Who Pushes Who?
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 work daily to protect and preserve the health of our children so they can grow strong and run someday!
To give: Support Hemby Children’s Hospital
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