EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene Marathon is a bit more than a month away. Thousands of runners are training to complete their first races or their first marathons, but some are also running to give back to the community.
Eugene Has Heart allows runners to support local nonprofits as they Run For Free on race weekend. With this year’s races finishing on the 50-yard line at Autzen Stadium, the Eugene Marathon has chosen two nonprofits with close ties to the Oregon Duck football team.
“To be able to partnering with two great organizations that have two great people is something that is important for us,” says Justin Hanes, Eugene Marathon.
Those two great people: Joey Harrington and Mike Bellotti. The Harrington Family Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southwest Washington and Oregon are two of six nonprofits runners can support. For the MDA, money will go to clinics, support groups, research for treatment and cures, and a summer camp for kids.
“That will go to sending children to an adaptive summer camp. It’s in Salem and all the kids in the state come together. Most of the time they’re the only kid in the community in a wheelchair, or walker, or braces, and they’re told they can’t do this. And they come to Salem and for a whole week they can do everything. We have horseback riding, we have dances, we have talent shows. They are among their peer and we never charge families a penny,” says Malissa Bare, Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Runners can sign up online, pledging to raise $60 for the 5k or $175 for the half or full marathons. The top fundraiser for the MDA will get two tickets to the annual gala, with other items signed by Mike Bellotti up for grabs.
“Part of our mission is to give back to Lane County in any way that we can. So, we have some nonprofits that are not part of the run for free program, like Girls on the Run. getting them running and getting them involved in a healthy and well community,” Hanes said.
The race weekend is for everyone, from seasoned runners to those just getting started.
“We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, by using an experience-base curriculum that creatively integrates running,” says Rachel Stroh, Girls on the Run.
Girls on the Run is an afterschool program that empowers local third, fourth, and fifth grade girls through running
“Every girl at the end of the season does a 5k that is really powerful, because for many of those girls they haven’t done something like that before. It’s just really powerful to see girls do something they never thought they could and getting excited about being active,” Stroh said.
The Eugene Marathon’s goal is to raise $25,000 for local nonprofits this year.
“Run for Free is a great way to get involved. I encourage anyone to look into it. If you are looking to raise money for charity there is still time to do it,” Hanes said.
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