Exercise and charity: a win-win combination

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Some general observations while enjoying a summer of recreation and charity, which seem to go hand in hand, now even more than ever.

I remember as a kid in elementary school, collecting pledges for CROP walks: church-related walk-a-thons to benefit the hungry. We’d collect a few cents per lap around the track, and then push ourselves to walk as far as we could, knowing the farther we walked, the more money we raised to feed the needy.

In college, there were bounce-a-thons, and of course the famous Penn State dance-a THON, taking charity/physical activity to another level.

Today, the idea of fundraising and recreation are even more closely linked, with walks, runs, rides, and so much more…all for a slew of good causes.

This weekend’s Keystone Country MS Ride will attract hundreds of cyclists for a challenging 2-day, 150 mile jaunt from Hollidaysburg to State College and back again. The decades-old event raised more than $450,000 last year alone, with cyclists combining for more than 55,000 miles of pedaling camaraderie.

The Hollidaysburg YMCA Race Series gives runners, walkers and even triathletes the opportunity to celebrate special people, places and holidays with hundreds of fellow fitness enthusiasts. They enjoy healthy activities while raising valuable funds for the YMCA mission: strengthening body, mind and spirit, while also benefitting the community. Their unique package of events has created holiday traditions, enjoyed by families, friends and even corporate teams: funds and fitness, a definite in-win.

And there are so many more opportunities to exercise, and even compete, while helping local non-profits.

Golf tournaments are still popular ways to recreate, socialize and raise money for everything from humane societies to high school booster clubs. And over the years, inspired creativity has turned traditional tournaments into outings that the put the “fun” in fundraiser. From men driving from the tee in dresses, to chipping rubber duckies, to putting with pool cues, the game of golf has taken new twists and turns, adding interest and smiles to what would otherwise be a regular round.

And kudos to the companies who encourage their employees to use charity runs, golf tournaments, and cycling events as team-building opportunities. People who work out together also tend to work well together, not to mention the overall benefits of healthy employees. A fit staff is a less-stressed staff, resulting in lower insurance rates and a more pleasant workplace. Another win-win value.

For folks who are going to work-out anyway, what better way to mix it up than to try a new running route, a new charity challenge or an old sport with a new twist?

Healthy exercise people can feel good about, as they bring friends, family and co-workers together, while also helping our neighbors and our non-profits. It’s a win-win-win.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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