The inaugural Canton Marathon will leave a charitable footprint in the community as big as the collective running shoes of its competitors.
Runners can designate a portion of their registration fees to go to one of a dozen groups that marathon officials have identified as charity partners.
“The whole trend in running for a cause has been the backbone of running events like the Canton Marathon,” said Stephen Mears, chief executive officer of Canton Marathon. “From the outset, our business model for a marathon included a charitable component. There never was a time in the evolution of the Canton Marathon that giving back to the community was not a part of it.”
HOW MARATHON GIVES
The selection of a charity when registering at the marathon’s website — CantonMarathon.com — does not increase the registration fee for the June 17 race, noted Amy Renkert, chairman of the marathon’s philanthropy committee.
“I love it because a runner can click on a charity and say, ‘I’m running for this,’ ” said Renkert. “Now they’re not just running for themselves. And we have enough variety that I can’t imagine anybody not being able to find a charity they want to help.”
The system also allows charitable partners to recruit runners or relay teams to raise pledge money based on their participation, said Renkert. And it encourages people at the organizations to start running.
“It’s getting the word out, it’s supporting the community, and it’s getting people involved,” Renkert said.
Charities chosen as partners “reflect what we’re trying to do with the marathon,” she said.
“We want healthy people and kids with a future, and we also wanted to reflect categories (of charities) that runners were interested in,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes this year and adjust in the future as appropriate.”
The charitable partners comprise one of three parts of the Canton Marathon’s three-tiered philanthropy.
The marathon also has joined with Team in Training, which raises money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society by signing up runners to earn pledge money as they compete.
“Team in Training is unique in that they get your commitment (in dollars) up front, and then they give you a training program,” said Mears, who noted that Team in Training participants have been in training for the race for weeks. “Team in Training is all over the country, and they’ve made this one of their signature events of the year.”
A third charitable component, the legacy element, is the Canton Marathon Charitable Fund. Mears said the fund, to which people also can make outright tax-deductible contributions, will be administered by Stark Community Foundation.
Sponsors who are helping to fund the Canton Marathon, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity, also are assisting to build the charitable fund, Mears said. Sponsorships still are available at all levels, he said.
“The more costs we can offset through sponsorships, the more money will be available for charity at the end,” he said. “Our long-term vision is to create a fund that lives on and grows year after year.”
Canton Marathon events include:
• Fitness Health Expo, 3 to 8 p.m.
• Fitness Health Expo, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Ultimate Marathon Dash, 9 a.m.
• Canton Marathon, 6 a.m.
• Half Marathon, 6 a.m.
• Five-person Relay, 6 a.m.
• Marathon Wheelchair Division, 5:50 a.m.
• 10K Race, 6:15 a.m.
Visit cantonmarathon.com. Registration fees are $90 for the marathon, $75 for the half marathon, $60 per person for the relay, $90 for the wheelchair division, $50 for the 10K race and $10 for the Ultimate Marathon Dash. Fees will increase $10 at the Fitness Health Expo.
How to contribute
To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Canton Marathon Charitable Fund, make your check out to Canton Marathon, Inc., putting “charitable” in the memo line, and mail it to Canton Marathon, 2618 Fulton Dr. NW, Canton, OH, 44718.
To contribute direct to the operation of the marathon, or to become a marathon sponsor, contact Stephen Mears at 330-456-9811, Ext. 1, or email steve@CantonMarathon.com.
When you register for a Canton Marathon event, you have an opportunity to designate one of 12 charities to receive up to 5 percent of your registration fee. For information about the charities, visit www.cantonmarathon.com/charity-partners.
• Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
• American Heart Association
• American Red Cross
• Community Services of Stark County
• Girls on the Run
• Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio
•Habitat for Humanity of Greater Stark Carroll Counties
• Pathway Caring for Children
• Pegasus Farm
• Stark Parks
• Trillium Family Solutions
• YMCA of Central Stark County