Running for charity motivates hundreds
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Everyone running in the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday will have some sort of goal in mind. Some will be hoping to post a time good enough to qualify them for the 2013 Boston Marathon, others will be looking to check an item off their bucket list by completing their first marathon.
For a few thousand runners, though, the motivation to complete 26.2 miles will be something outside of themselves.
The marathon will raise more than $2 million for charity this year, with 43 groups signed up to raise money through race teams.
"It's really exciting," marathon charity director Adriane Deithorn said. "People are really trying to jump into our program."
The amount raised in the marathon's charity efforts has increased every year since the race returned in 2009. That year, the marathon brought in $254,000. That number climbed to $500,000 in '10 and $1.2 million a year ago.
Organizers set a goal of $1.5 million this year, but expect that they will top the $2 million mark by race day.
"We're really, really excited," race director Patrice Matamoros said. "And I think that we realize our charities have been with us for a while, and they have been able to use this for four years."
The charities involved range from national charities, such as Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation, to local causes such as the Pittsburgh Promise and the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Kayla Doratio, who is in charge of marathon fundraising for Children's Hospital, said her organization expects to raise $60,000 this year, up from $44,000 a year ago.
Like most of the organizations, Children's Hospital requires participants to raise a minimum contribution in order to get their bib on race day. That minimum ranges from charity to charity. For Children's Hospital, it's $500 for the half-marathon and $650 for the full marathon.
Of course, Doratio said participants regularly collect much more than the required amount. Her group also allows runners to earmark their contribution to a specific area of the hospital, such as the NICU or heart center.
"A lot of people have those personal connections with their friends or family so they want to give back to the area that is close to their heart," she said.
Doratio and Matamoros agreed that the personal connection inspires runners who decide to do the marathon for charity.
"When someone says they're training for a marathon it's a huge commitment to make," Matamoros said. "People do it for their own reasons, but I think this is an even bigger commitment to make.
"Somebody else is counting on you. It gives you a higher purpose for doing it."
That message especially resonates in Pittsburgh. Deithorn said the Pittsburgh Marathon is one of the top-10 charity marathons in the United States.
Part of that success is due to an extra emphasis placed on charity runners. For instance, after the race sells out, organizers will open 1,500-2,000 more spots reserved exclusively for charity runners.
"That's when it goes through the roof," Deithorn said.
While most of the charity participants will blend in with the rest of the pack, there is one runner that most Pittsburghers will recognize. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is running in the relay race for the Pittsburgh Promise for the second consecutive year.
Last year, Deithorn said Ravenstahl raised $5,000.
"We love the fact that he runs with us every year," Deithorn said. "I think it really sets the bar high. And I think it shows it's attainable for anybody."
First Published April 30, 2012 12:01 am