Walk/run events are well received in Tyler and surrounding areas as they typically yield crowds and participation.
Last year, the Tyler Azalea 10K drew more than 900 and the popular Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure had more than 4,700 people participating in its 5K at Bergfeld Park.
Walks such as Race for the Cure allow participants an opportunity to get moving while also supporting a cause. Beginning this month, new and old walk/run events will aim to offer both to residents.
WALK FOR A CAUSE
In recent years, fundraisers have used walks and runs to not only bring about awareness to a cause, but also to engage potential donors.
For example, next weekend, the African American Cultural Events Committee will hold the Sickle Cell Youth Scholarship 5K Walk/Run. Half of the proceeds go to the Sickle Cell Foundation of America, while the other half funds scholarships for Tyler-area high school seniors.
The group began bringing awareness about sickle cell after its then-vice president's godchild was diagnosed with the disease. Sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder, which gives red blood cells a crescent shape. It commonly affects African Americans.
"We're trying to bring awareness of sickle cell, that it's a silent disease that many people haven't even heard of," said Greg Buckner, the committee's chairman. "We're just raising money so people can be healed from it."
The sickle cell walk/runs have been relatively small, raising only about $2,000 total over the past two or three years, Buckner said. But organizers are working to attract more participants this time.
Meanwhile, The American Heart Association has had a long history of raising money through walks. At least 300 people already have signed up for the Oct. 19 Heart Walk in Tyler.
Brandi Russell, corporate market director for the organization's southwest affiliate, said the event allows supporters to "walk the talk" to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living. Heart Walk is part of the AHA's "My Heart. My Life" campaign to encourage simple, everyday behavioral changes such as eating better and exercising 30 minutes a day.
"People want to participate because it's a fun environment, a rewarding challenge, and it demonstrates building healthy habits in your community," Ms. Russell said. "And the event itself is a celebration. The day is filled with inspiration, energy and hope."
A trend with walks and runs today is to focus on fun themes or to encourage the competitive spirit of its participants. Zombie runs, Christmas-themed races and obstacle courses deviate from the standard walk or race. Tyler has held several in recent years including the Bambi Run and the Tyler Rose Marathon. Mellew Productions will introduce the HoHoHo run — a Santa Clause themed race — in December.
ORGANIZING A WALK/RUN: THE CAVEATS
Mechele Mills, president and CEO at the East Texas chapter of the Better Business Bureau, said while people may have great intentions in raising money for charities, if not done properly, they are opening the charity up to negative attention that could harm its reputation.
She said before planning a walk to benefit a charity, people should first get the charity's permission to do so.
"Without the charity's permission, you open yourself up to scrutiny, not to mention lawsuits, as most charities are very protective of their names and logos," she said. "To avoid any appearance of impropriety, you should ask that donations be done by check and the checks made out to the charity. Another option would be to set up a separate bank account for all proceeds from the walk/run to avoid comingling of these funds with your own."
Mrs. Mills said mismanagement is often the biggest mistake made when organizing a run. It's a large undertaking, which entails choosing a location, getting permits, creating a budget, public relations and ordering T-shirts and awards.
"It's crucial that organizers begin applying for permits as early in the process as possible," she said. "It can be a time-consuming process, and a delay in approval could affect the intended race day. Make sure you have well-written waivers as well as carry liability insurance. This will help protect the race organizers, sponsors (and often runners, too) in case of an accident."
CHOOSING A CHARITABLE WALK/RUN
Mrs. Mills said it is important for race participants to research any organization before making a payment or submitting personal information.
"Ask yourself if you really want to enroll with a for-profit organization, one that may or may not donate some or all of the proceeds to a charity, rather than sign up for a fundraiser directly owned and operated by a charity," she said.
She said check an organization's tax status by visiting www.irs.gov.
"You may read heartwarming stories of people who have been helped by the workings of the cause you wish to support, but do your research first," she said.
Mrs. Mills said also to be suspicious of vague appeals that don't identify the intended use of funds. She advises potential donors to ask how the donations will be used and what percentage of money raised will go the specified charity if the event is owned or produced by a for-profit business.
Other tips include paying by credit card when possible so charges can be disputed if a problem occurs.
"Resist the urge to pre-pay registration fees many months or even a year in advance, especially when the charity itself is not the one collecting the fees," she said.
What: Sickle Cell Youth Scholarship 5K Walk/Run
When: Registration begins at 7 a.m., followed by stretching and an aerobics workout at 8 a.m. The walk/run begins at 9 a.m. and information tables will be available until noon. Proceeds benefit the Sickle Cell Foundation of America and Tyler-area youth scholarships.
Where: Woldert Park, 701 W. 32nd St.
Information: Call Greg Buckner at 903-592-8973
What: Historic Longview Market Run Walk
Participants walk or run through the historic areas of Longview, beginning with Historic Longview Farmers Market.
When: 7:15 a.m.
Where: Longview Farmers Market, Corner of Cotton and Center Streets.
What: Henderson County Young Life Mud Run 2013
Race includes a venture through a 5K obstacle course, and lunch is provided for registered participants. Awards will be presented to special achievements including dirtiest competitor and best-dressed team. Proceeds benefit YoungLife, a faith-based youth organization in Henderson County.
When: 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Carpenter's Ranch, Farm-to-Market Road 317 in Athens
What: Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce and Tyler-area churches' Community Faith-based Health Walk*
The walk encourages healthy living, particularly in the African-American community.
When: 8 a.m.
Where: Woldert Park, 701 W. 32nd St.
Information: www.themetrochamber.com/register-for- faith-walk
What: Tyler Rose Marathon/Half Marathon/5K
The course has various scenic routes, which include the countryside, around the airport, along the highway and through neighborhoods.
When: The 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 12. The marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 13 while the half-marathon kicks off at 8 a.m. Oct. 13. The junior rose events begin at 8 a.m. Oct. 12. The half-marathon benefits The University of Texas at Tyler's cross country and track teams.
Where: Marathons begin at Bergfeld Park and end on at the Rose Garden. The 5K route is in the Rose Garden area.
What: American Heart Association's Tyler Heart Walk
The race brings awareness to heart health and encourages healthy living.
When: 8:30 a.m.
Where: Robert E. Lee track, 411 E Southeast Loop 323
What: Pine Needles and Paychex 5K
This 5K allows people to compete with others on the same fitness level for cash prizes.
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Tyler State Park, 789 Park Road 16
What: Race to the Rescue 5K Fun Run and Walk
Proceeds benefit the Van Zandt Children's Advocacy Center.
When: 8 a.m.
Where: Canton Trade Days Grounds, 800 First Monday Lane in Canton
What: Patrick's 5K Challenge and Fun Run
The event is designed to celebrate the memory of former Tyler resident Patrick Bowman. All proceeds benefit the Patrick Bowman Eagle Scout Scholarship of East Texas.
When: 7:15 a.m.
Where: Faulkner Park, 410 W. Cumberland Road
What: UT Health Northeast's 5K Hope Run*
This walk promotes healthy living and includes family-friendly activities.
When: The 5K begins at 8 a.m. while the 1-mile walk starts at 8:30 a.m.
Where: UT Health Northeast, 11937 U.S. Highway 271
What: HoHoHo Run
Participants don a Santa Clause suit, hat and white beard while racing around downtown Tyler.
When: 9 a.m.
Where: Downtown Tyler
*No entry fees or fundraising required.