Many of the world’s top marathons and cycling events, including the New York Marathon, include entrants who have raised money for a particular charity, usually one that has affected a close family member or friend, from breast cancer to multiple sclerosis. But the charity they are running or cycling for does not pay their airfare, hotels or other expenses to participate. They pay their own way, and the money raised goes to the charity. Here’s one charity that lets you use part of the money you raise to pay for your expenses to get to the marathon, in effect, giving you a free trip, paid for by the friends, neighbors and co-workers you hit up for donations, and the charity gets whatever is left over —
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America is advertising now for participants in its upcoming 2011 marathons and half-marathons in Kona, on Big Island Hawaii, and in Vigrinia’s wine country. A similar fund-raising marathon event was held in Las Vegas in December. The program includes 16 weeks of training sessions with professional coaches in your hometown, to prepare you for the main event, plus clinics and parties to educate you on the ins and outs of fund-raising.
The charity is legitimate, and so are the ravages of Chrohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. More than one million people in the United States are sufferers, and most sufferers develop the illnesses between the ages of 18 and 35, according to the charity’s own website. But — and this is a big but — the Chrohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America is not well regarded by charity monitoring services. It has a three-star rating from Charity Navigator, my go-to charity monitoring organization. By comparison, three other charities named by Charity Navigator as performing similar types of work in researching cures for Crohn’s disease and colitis and providing support for its sufferers, are rated higher, with four stars each. The four-star list includes the National Organization for Rare Disorders, so let’s just compare these two charities.