While the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon helps local charities raise much-needed funds, it also helps spark a passion for fitness.
Through Lifetime Networks’ ongoing participation – some years fundraising teams have had 50-plus runners and walkers – the non-profit has raised more than $100,000. But it’s offered the organization much more, says Lifetime executive director Carlene Thompson.
“The fundraising is great but it’s (also) really allowed for a very inclusive event,” she says, noting that for many Lifetime Networks’ team members, it’s the first such event they’ve participated in.
To have it open to people of diverse abilities makes it more special, she adds.
Supporting about 400 families, Lifetime creates connections and friendships for individuals with disabilities.
“We’ve had staff who have run their first marathon and they started running with us,” Thompson says, recalling a special moment during her own first half-marathon.
“I happened to pass a group of about 10 of our 8K walkers and they stopped and cheered me on.”
The marathon, set for Sunday, Oct. 8, offers two levels of charity contributions, the official charities and the CHEK Charity Pledge Program.
When registering, event participants can choose to donate to official charities KidSport Greater Victoria, GoodLife Kids Foundation and the Pacific Autism Family Centre. Tax receipts are issued after the race.
The second tier of fundraising is the Charity Pledge Program, which has raised $1.7 million for local charities since its launch 13 years ago, says media liaison Louise Hodgson-Jones.
“We started it to spread the word about how important it is to promote the charities. Everyone who has come on board is very, very enthusiastic,” she says.
Applications are taken in the fall for charities that want to participate in the next event and many often co-ordinate teams to run and raise funds. Marathon organizers help promote participating organizations and share tips to help them succeed, but the actual fundraising is up to them.
For participants, “it’s a means for them to help some of the charities without raising it all on their own and they feel as though they’re a part of a team as well,” Hodgson-Jones says.
Some of those teams will don colourful costumes to get in the spirit, especially for shorter events like the 8K and relay events. “It’s always part of the fun component.”
Plus, “through the charities we’ve encouraged a lot of people to be more active, which is the main thing,” Hodgson-Jones says.
Learn more about the charity program, donate or join a team at runvictoriamarathon.com/fundraising.