I know a lot of racers, runners and walkers who, year after year, will target certain events that are meaningful ways of contributing to a charity need.

“Run Fatboy, Run.”

Now, before you get all indignant with me for the first line, I am referring to one of my new favorite movies. It was actually released in 2007, so I’m a bit late to the party but still, if you’ve never seen it, it’s new to you!

In the movie,the main character leaves his pregnant girlfriend at the altar, then tries to figure out a way to win her back (along with their son) from the girl’s new boyfriend, who has marriage ideas of his own.

It’s funny (British humor is REALLY funny), it’s romantically irreverent, and it’s about RUNNING! In order to prove that he can finish what he starts (for once) the main character offers to run a marathon for a charity, with only about three weeks of actual training. Why a charity? Because it’s the only way he can gain entrance into the race. Many larger marathons that sell out these days offer a charity “in.”

Charity running isn’t new, but it’s become pretty big business. Most races have some sort of charity component, such as Caesar Rodney Half Marathon’s long-standing connection with the American Lung Association, or the Olde Tyme Peach Festival in Middletown, where proceeds help fund scholarships for student-athletes in the Appoquinimink School District.

Big, big, big races, like Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, have several connected charities, including the American Cancer Society and the Fairmount Park Conservancy. Even the esteemed Boston Marathon decided years ago that a certain percentage of the race field would be given over to groups such as Team in Training, as a way of gathering donations for participating organizations. Side note, I’m still not sure I’m cool with the Boston thing, since charity runners don’t need to qualify, but in almost every other venue, the charity function is a great thing.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philly Marathon spent nearly $2.7 million to produce the 2017 marathon and netted $4.1 million in revenue with a $1.4 million profit! After paying off expenses, there was about $900,000 remaining, which went to various city-wide charity organizations. That’s a whole lotta Fatboys running!

Local events, such as Middletown’s Relay for Life 5k can raise several thousand dollars for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. In mid-June, the Georgetown (Delaware) Public Library hosts its 15th annual 5k, where funds raised are used specifically for library programs and needs. Almost every week from now through the end of October, there are 4, 5, even 6 local races within 60 miles and MOST have a charity designation or beneficiary.

I know a lot of racers, runners and walkers who oftentimes think “event” first, then semantics and causes later. I also know a lot of racers, runners and walkers who, year after year, will target certain events that are meaningful ways of contributing to a charity need. The MS Run on Thanksgiving in Wilmington is one of the oldest race events in the state and has literally hundreds and hundreds of return participants year after year, as tradition and as philanthropic necessity or calling.

And as an aside, great race events and great charity events are not mutually exclusive. I’ve run in every race mentioned above and will tell you that the race experience, the competition, the SWAG, the post-event party, etc… are all very good.

You don’t need to be a fatboy to run for a cause, nor do you need to be a runner to give back. Do a little race research, find out what speaks to you, and support it. Just don’t leave your girlfriend pregnant at the altar. There’s a whole lot wrong with that.

Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.