Ciera is the 2nd from the right, first row with maroon jacket during a group shot with DetermiNation.



       Giving back is a great feeling that some people are lucky enough to enjoy. This past month I ran the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on behalf of the American Cancer Society with Team DetermiNation. Being a DetermiNation athlete means that I had the opportunity to run and raise funds for the American Cancer Society.


       When you run through a charity, you automatically get a spot in the race you apply for, as you fundraise for that charity. There are all kinds of distance opportunities and events to choose from depending upon what you decide fits your need including a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or a full marathon. Each race has a minimum fundraising goal that you must reach to keep your spot in the race. My advice is to pick one that you have a passion for, and you will exceed that minimum goal.


       There are many different charities that you can choose to be part of in a race. I chose DetermiNation because I wanted to run for those who are burdened with cancer. You can choose your charity based on what group you want to help most or what suits your passions. Most non-profits offer run for charity spots in races such as ASPCA, NYRR Team for Kids, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training, and many more. When you choose your charity you must consider what you want your purpose to be. Whatever that may be, you will be running in honor of it. American Cancer Society DetermiNation coach Ramon Bermo, states, “I think coming into the program with a good heart and willingness to make a difference is key.” You have to be willing to put in the work so you can feel accomplished in the end.


       After you sign up for the charity of your choice, your adventure will begin, but like any race, you will have to put in the time and effort with your training. As part of being on a charity team, the organization typically assigns you a coach that is there to help with weekly workouts, running secrets, and lots of encouragement for both running and fundraising. If you live in the same city as the race, your coach will also arrange weekly runs, where you can do workouts with other runners. It’s a great opportunity to meet the other runners and share ideas about running and fundraising. There are also other specials events where you get to meet some of the people your funds are helping. With DetermiNation, I had the chance to spend time with cancer patients and hear their inspiring stories of hope. This brings meaning to what you are doing both in your running goals and fundraising.



        The biggest factor in running for charity is that you have to be motivated to run. If you are passionate about running, nothing can get in your way. Sometimes you may hit a roadblock, but the great thing about charity running is that you have a purpose in your actions. Even at the toughest points in training or the race, you must remember the ultimate purpose. You are not only doing this for yourself, others are counting on you too. During the process, you might even inspire your peers to get involved. To fundraise, I made videos to spread awareness of where the money will go and how it will help cancer patients. Remember, you are never alone!


        So, if you are looking for a unique challenge, and want to take the meaning of your running to another level, then running for a charity is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. “It’s never too early to get involved with a charity. Find a charity that you feel connected to and get involved,” said Bermo. If you can stay motivated, persevere, and dedicate your time and effort, running for a charity is a great option for you. It taught me valuable skills that I can use in my future. Trust me, crossing the finish line when you run for a charity is the ultimate accomplishment. Hope you try it out soon. See you on the roads!


Read about Ciera's experience at the New York Half.