Celebrations of giving

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By Virginia Betz

You can make a charitable donation by clicking a button on your computer, or by filling out a check – and it will probably feel good to do so. Yet, year after year, signing up for marathons and other sporting or quasi-sporting events has become a favorite way to give to good causes. Competitive events are America’s most popular kind of social gathering; and they bring together people of all classes, religions and ethnic groups. The sporting event provides a formal backdrop for what is essentially a celebratory ritual. Charitable giving is a social act; it is an affirmation of our commitment to our mutual welfare. What better way to experience the joy of giving than in the context of a celebration? It reminds us why we give – to strengthen our common bonds and feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Sure, you can just write a check, but a lot of things, especially giving, are more meaningful, and more fun, in a crowd.

P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is, for sure, Phoenix metro’s biggest charity bash. Sunday, January 20, 2013, tens of thousands will fill the re-vamped urban courses for the marathon, half marathon, cycling and wheelchair events. For those who’d prefer a less massive gathering with targeted local giving, there is no shortage of opportunities in the Valley. LPM offers a partial list of some of these upcoming charity/sports events – some suave, some fuerte. If profuse sweating is not your idea of a good time, you can get in on the excitement by volunteering to provide support services on the day of the event. 

McDowell Mountain Frenzy
Benefits McDowell Mountain Regional Park
Date: December 8 (Saturday)
Location:  McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Fountain Hills
Event type: Cross-country running in 5 distance categories: 50 mi., 50k, 25k, 10 mi. and 5 mi.
Time: Day-of-race registration is 6 a.m.; races start between 7 and 8:30 a.m. depending on the event

There is probably no other running event in the area that takes place in such stunning surroundings. The shorter races follow professionally designed competitive tracks. The three longer races (part of the Desert Runner Trail Series) incorporate other trails within the Park appropriate for highly experienced cross-country runners. All races are chip-timed. Color-coded signage will guide the participants along their chosen course, and water/snack stations will be available along all routes. Runners are advised to familiarize themselves with their course prior to race day. To get directions to the Park, maps/descriptions of the courses and on-line registration, visit:

Registration fees: $65 (50 mi.); $60 (50k); $55 (25k); $50 (10 mi.), $45 (5 mi.). Fees will increase by $10 for day-of-race registration; in addition, there is a $6 parking fee for each vehicle.

“Chip in for Humanity” Golf Classic
Benefits Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona
Date: December 14  (Friday)
Location: Troon Golf Club, 10320 East Dynamite Blvd., Scottsdale
Event type: Golf tournament
Time: 8:30 a.m.

What’s more Arizonan than golf? And few sports have such a long tradition of association with charitable giving. The beneficiary of the Golf Classic, HFHCAZ, builds and renovates affordable housing for families of low to moderate income, a group that certainly deserves our attention in the current economic climate. To learn how to register as a golfer or sponsor, visit:

Registration fees: $175, individual; $650, foursome

First Annual Brace It for Brayden Awareness 5k
Benefits the Brace It for Brayden Awareness campaign
Date: December 29, 2012 (Saturday)
Location: Encanto Park Clubhouse, 2605 N. 15th Av., Phoenix
Event type: 5k run/walk
Time: 8 – 11 a.m.

This first-time, family-friendly event takes place at one of downtown Phoenix’ loveliest urban green spaces, and draws attention to fatalities/injuries resulting from inadequately fixed appliances and furniture. For more information about the campaign and on-line registration, visit:

Registration fees: $30, adults; $15, child (10 and under), $20, silent angels (non-participants)

The Color Run
Benefits Banner Health and Special Olympics Arizona
Date: January 26, 2013 (Saturday)
Location: Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
Event Type: 5k run/walk
Time: Multiple start times – 7:30, 8:10 and 8:45 a.m.

Each kilometer represents a “color zone” that participants pass through while they are bombarded with blasts of powdered color. By the end of the course, everyone looks like Jackson Pollock’s version of a rainbow. Pigments are non-toxic and easily removed by blown air. For a map giving route details and on-line registration (number of participants is limited), go to:

Registration fees: $50, individual; $45, per person in a 4+-person color team (fees will go up by $5 after 1/1/13)

AZ Bedrace for Charity
Benefits Bridging AZ Furniture Bank
Date: February 23, 2013 (Saturday)
Location: Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
Event type: Bed race
Time: Registration at 10 a.m.; races at 11 a.m.

Five-persons teams compete in costumes, theme and speed contests. Each team builds and decorates their own “racebed,” which four “pushers” and one “rider” navigate down a 100-yard course. Proceeds go to the Furniture Bank, an organization that works through several social service agencies to provide furniture and household equipment to Arizona families in need – a truly unique competition for a unique charity. For more info, visit

Registration fees: $15, individual (x5 = $75 per team) (fees will increase after 2/20/13) 

AFAA Zoo Walk for Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis
Benefits Arizona Food Allergy Alliance for Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis
Date: March 9, 2013 (Saturday)
Event type: 5k walk
Where: Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Time: 7 a.m. for registration; walk begins at 8 a.m.

Another inaugural charity event for the Valley. The AFAA raises funds to support local efforts to raise awareness and education, as well as to support research and advocacy. For more info and early registration, visit:

Registration fees: $9, adult; $6, children 3-18 (fees also apply to Zoo members) 

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