Do any of us really pay attention to where your money ends up when we enter a race? Water, timing systems, employees and awards are all part of the overhead when your local 5k is in the planning stages. Also, many charities are beneficiaries of the race day revenue. I have been looking into this issue for a while and have come up pleasantly surprised with, of course, a few exceptions. The Seattle Marathon in 2007 donated 0% of the entry fees to charity while the bulk of the profit went to a few major companies who organized the race. I don’t see any problem with this as long as the race is not pulling a bait and switch with my money. The Seattle Marathon did just this when it’s website touted the fact that the money went “to benefit UW Medical Center Patient & Family Housing Fund”, when in fact, the only money that went there was cash donated by runners above and beyond their entry fees.
Some charities have political affiliations and agendas that you may want to investigate before tossing a few bucks their way. Regardless of what side of the aisle you fall on, it is a good idea to be informed as to who your money is “benefiting”. For instance, the Susan G. Komen Foundation recently found itself embroiled in controversy over the funding of Planned Parenthood. The organization waffled back and forth for weeks but it is up to you to decide if they are worthy of your hard earned money. Personally that issue is one I will not debate here. I happen to like The National Cancer Society who is the recipient of many race dollars throughout the year and does great work to fight cancer in all it’s forms.
Every year the Arthritis Foundation holds 5k’s around the country called the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. They are a very worthy organization determined to fight this crippling disease. Since 1948 they have committed over $400 million to research arthritis in all its forms. In addition, they also lobby congress for better access to care by attempting to remove the restrictions on the small drug companies and allowing these medications to be made available to the public cheaper.
The Special Olympics is also another high profile and wonderful charity that every runner should be glad to help. Starting in 1968, the Special Olympics has provided year-round training and competitions to children and adults with disabilities. This happens to be one of my favorite non-profits.
The National Kidney Foundation also hosts one of the largest walks throughout the country in different cities to raise money for kidney disease research and awareness. This is yet another charity where I would be glad to see my money working.
To this point all the charities I have mentioned are associated with disease research or benefiting the disabled and you really can’t go too wrong with supporting them. But beware, some other charities that have political affiliations also put their hand out for your race money and you may want to watch out for them. The Annual Race Against Extinction 5k in Boston, MA. is a good example of what I am speaking about. We all love animals and I am absolutely no exception, but I will not participate in a race that supports and gives free membership to participants to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and some of the crackpot ideas that have been given unwarranted consideration. I draw the line at letting my dog sue me or issue a restraining order.
The dispute over global warming is ongoing contrary to what many people are being told. If it’s hot or it’s not, the cause is definitely a point to be argued, which is why I do not participate in anything “Earth Day”. The 5K Run For Clean Air is an example of some of these global warming races. They clearly state, ” supports programs that reduce waste in favor of increased recycling and composting to slow down global warming.” Beyond that they have award medals made from recycled materials (afraid to imagine what that may be) and a bicycle valet (see post from two weeks ago). So compete in all the “green” races you want but remember the people you are giving your money to are the same people who hate the factories where your shoes and running gear are manufactured.
The Legs Against Arms 5k in Philadelphia is heavily supported by Joyce Resources Inc., which is rabidly anti-gun. Held yesterday, they brag about “attracting runners, walkers, wheelchair rollers, children and adults who are committed to changing the social norm that celebrates violence by focusing on violence prevention, honoring loved ones lost to gun violence and modeling healthy life choices”. The City of Philadelphia has incorporated this important event as one of the city sponsored events to stem the epidemic of violence in Philadelphia. What? I barely know where to begin. Many pretty, but deceiving, words that mean absolutely nothing. Sorry Philadelphia, this will not reduce your violent crime rate. Even the winner of the race, with an admirable 16:15, can’t outrun a thugs bullet. I’ll save my money for more ammunition rather than participate in a race such as this.
So, in my opinion, donate your shoes, walk for cancer and run for any and all disease related races. Hey, if they have a local race to raise money for grade school playground upgrades, do that too. But pay attention to exactly who is getting your money and if they are using it to lobby for a “green” agenda. Maybe like shutting down a few running shoe factories because the rubber involved is environmentally hazardous?
Remember, run for fun but race to place!
© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running