Ice Bucket Challenge

Have you ever wondered why people go out and sweat for a charity? They may just like to move, no matter what, or they might be focused on the mission of the charity sponsoring the run or walk. But research has found that people are more likely to support a cause and to donate if they suffer a bit.

It’s called the “martyrdom effect” and it’s a real thing. And the martyrdom effect seems to be more potent when we suffer for a terrible problem, disease or condition.

These days, that suffering can take all kinds of forms. Like the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS, the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics or maybe just a 5K with your kids, friends or co-workers to support your favorite cause.

Martyrdom aside, running, walking or biking for charity is such a great idea. It only takes a few hours at most, you will raise money for a good cause and you can get healthy – all at the same time.

Walking/running events are both competitive and noncompetitive races sponsored by many charities to raise funds and as a way to involve many more people than they might otherwise. Here in Kern County, literally dozens of these events occur each year from the CASA Superhero Run to the Rio Bravo Rumble, Dog Tag Dash or even the Tour de Meow.

Participants usually pay a registration fee and may collect pledges. In return, they get to enjoy: a great walk/run that is organized for them, snacks, drinks, T-shirts and other mementos.

The best way to find a charitable walk/run is to check out one of these popular sites that serve as clearinghouses or registration platforms for these events: Active.com, Bakersfieldtrackclub.org, Runningintheusa.com or Roadracerunner.com. Of course, you can also call your favorite charity and ask about upcoming events or check their website.

To make the most of your efforts, here are a few quick tips:

1. Find a walk/run/ride for a cause you feel passionate about.

2. Learn all about the event’s expectations and requirements. Some events require participants to raise a specific amount of donations and pay a registration fee.

3. Raise money with enthusiasm. Tell everyone you know about your participation and urge them to support you and the cause. Research has shown that people who use social media to raise money for their causes bring in six times more money than those who don’t use it!

4. Check with and then ask your employer to match or otherwise support your cause.

If you want to do more, charity walks and runs need lots of volunteers on the day of the event. You might stuff information packets, take registrations, help set up the route or distribute drinks during the event.

Get moving now. Help a cause that you care about and get in shape at the same time. 

Kristen Beall Barnes, Ed.D., is the president and CEO at Kern Community Foundation. Contact her at Kristen@kernfoundation.org or 616-2601. The views expressed in this column are her own.

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