Getting active for a good cause

Virtual 5Ks give people more ways to support their favourite causes

Supplied photo

Virtual 5Ks and other races have become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability for runners to socially distance, choose their own locations and participate at their own pace have made them an attractive option for beginners and seasoned runners alike.

Some runs, which were created as in-person events, chose to make it virtual to be more accessible to people not in the area. For example, Run For It 5K, created by the American non-profit organization To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), had 4,200 runners from 22 countries and all 50 US states participate in the virtual run in 2021.

Virtual races like Run For It 5K, created by non-profit organizations, often have proceeds going towards the organization’s cause. For TWLOHA, it means the funds go toward “providing hope and help for people experiencing depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.”

Then there are runs like the Get Real Movement’s Virtual 5K, collaborating with the global organization Rainbow Railroad. Their 5K’s proceeds will be split between the Canadian non-profit focused on “combating bullying, 2SLGBTQ+ discrimination and racism” and the global organization “helping LGTBQI+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.”

Get Real currently has an after-school program in Winnipeg, run by Mackenzie Kolton.

“We held our first virtual 5K last year in 2021. This was the first time we decided to bring all the chapters across Canada to support one 50/50 fundraiser,” Victoria Pedri, Get Real’s chapter manager, says in an email to The Uniter. “It was a big hit last year! Our goal was to raise $2,500, and we doubled that amount, raising $5,000.”

Get Real’s goal this year is $10,000, and with more people wanting to get active for a good cause, they may reach their goal.

“I ran the virtual 5K in June 2021 for the Pride and Remembrance Foundation,” Bre Kelly, who also cosplays online and at Comic Cons as Priderman, says. “I’ve participated in the run before, back when it was still in person. When I heard they introduced a virtual/remote option, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Kelly has been a socially-conscious cosplayer since 2016 and has participated in different runs in Toronto and Winnipeg that align with her values.

Kelly says she felt good about participating in the Pride and Remembrance Run, even though she ran the 5K only hours after getting her second dose of the COVID vaccine in full cosplay on a hot day.

“I hit my fundraising goal, completed the 5K – even if it was longer than I had hoped – and, all in all, I felt good supporting causes I believe in,” she says.

Kelly also says that when she looks to participate in these types of events, it’s all about what she is supporting.

“I chose the Pride & Remembrance Run because it most closely aligns with my goals as a socially conscious cosplayer. I’m always looking to see with the beneficiaries are, and, without fail, the organizations receiving the funds are wonderful orgs doing amazing things for queer people across Canada and, in some cases, around the world,” she says.

Published in Volume 76, Number 19 of The Uniter (March 2, 2022)

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