12 Charities to Help You Run with Purpose and Make a Difference

"Everything changed as soon as I started  to run with purpose for the American Cancer Society. I suddenly felt so much positivity surrounding me and my fellow runners in the face of such a horrible disease."  - Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, Karen Berenson

What is the "why" behind your running game? Do you need one?

While long-distance runners have an incredibly demanding job, and they do it for a variety of reasons, I often find that rookie runners - and sometime seasoned runners - fail to connect themselves to a greater purpose, which is so important!!! They get the "what" (aka "the goal") and the "how" (aka "the plan"), but they don't have a "why" (aka "deeper meaning" / "purpose"). And, the why can make all the difference. 

Continue reading to explore three reasons to find your why as a runner and check out 12 charities that can connect you to a mission. I'll also reveal my "why" and how it totally changed my running game. 

3 Reasons to Run with Purpose

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1. I'm on a Mission.

Last year I developed anemia during my marathon training season. I was developing injuries one after another and felt like I was suffocating on every run. When I finally learned from the doctor the cause of my pain, I knew that the road back to full health was going to be slow, which was brutal. Nonetheless, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be my year to PR, I still put my best effort forward come race day. Why? I was running for the American Cancer Society and determined to find a cure for cancer. I also had so much support from friends, family, and the running community in raising funds. 

2. Momentum Ebbs and Flows! 

"I'm going to do this! I've got this!" - says every runner when they sign up for a big race. 

Yes, there is so much excitement when you first register for a marathon, yet, the momentum comes and goes throughout training. In fact, I'm running my 9th marathon this year and there is no denying that every running season is different from the next. Some seasons click. Some don't. Sometimes the weather, diet restrictions, spending time with family and friends, etc., can be a distraction or slow you down.  But, drawing it back to your "why" - keeping that fresh in your mind each and every day - will get you through some of the hard points. 

3. Pay it Forward.

If you've found your "why," pay it forward by helping others find their "why," too. Everyone is searching for something bigger than themselves, and everyone needs some help finding it. Look around and you’ll easily find someone who his grieving the loss of a loved one, someone who is struggling to start a family, someone who is facing disappointment in the careers they’ve put so much effort towards...everyone is going through something at any given time. You can help.

Need some inspiration?

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Don't Look at Places, Look at People.

If you want to run with purpose, get around people. I'm not talking about the crowds that drive you crazy - no! Get yourself out into the community and start talking. Get to know people. Go, volunteer. Ask them what they do. It's a strange, chaotic time in the world, but you will find that people care.  

For me, and many of my clients, the best way to find your "why" is to sign up for a race that has a charity component. If possible (and it is!), don't just sign up and run. Raise funds, too! The running community is set up to improve lives, and there are many incredible missions we love at RunFit MKE. Trust me, attaching yourself to any of these charities will not only amp up your game, but you'll feel an entirely different connection to yourself and your fellow runners come race day.

Click on each organization to learn more about what they do. Then, get involved. 

The Charities We Love at RunFit MKE

American Cancer Society

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

American Red Cross

Autism Speaks

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Girls on the Run

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Run to Defeat ALS

St. Jude's Research Hospital

World Vision

What is My Why? 

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Before cancer tormented our family, I ran, but I didn't run with a passion. Everything changed as soon as I started running with the American Cancer Society. I was suddenly surrounded by so many positive people and felt connected to my fellow runners in the face of such a horrible disease. PRs are fantastic. Perfect running days are amazing - they really are - but there is nothing like lining up with jerseys and raising millions of dollars for a good cause. And, it's helped me find my "why" as a runner, which takes each mile to a new level. 

Connect with Your RunFit MKE Community

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Our RunFit Community is Creating Change on an Emotional Level

I don't know a single person who thinks their life is perfect. At RunFit MKE, we've created an opportunity for people to share their challenges while they get their physical bodies running fit. Whether it is work, mental health, the loss of a loved one, family issues - it is so important to give time to people, to make sure they have someone to talk to. This is the thing I'm most proud of - helping people create change on both a physical and emotional level. 

Having a "why" is also so valuable to our RunFitters. It not only helps to run with purpose, but live with purpose as well. 

Contact Us Today to Begin Your Journey


Karen Berenson