Walking for charity has dual rewards: getting in a major workout and benefiting a worthwhile cause. Here is a sampling of options around the country over the next year, from 5K challenges to three-day treks.
The cause: Called the Memory Walk when it began in 1989, the annual Alzheimer’s Association event is the world's largest to raise awareness and funds for dementia-related research, assistance and care, which includes in-person support groups as well as a free nationwide helpline.
Location/Dates: More than 600 communities nationwide participate in September, October or November, including New York, Oct. 28; Phoenix, Nov. 11.
Distance: Walk of 2-3 miles is an all-ages, all-abilities event.
How to sign up: Click the Find Your Walk button on the home page to customize your search by location, then click the event page to register.
The cause: This signature American Diabetes Association fundraising walk raises critical funds and shows support for people living with the disease. Seventy-three percent of the total annual expenses go toward research, advocacy and public awareness activities.
Location/Dates: About 30 cities are expected to host Step Out Walks between March and November, including Boston, Oct. 21; Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 18; Palm Desert, Calif., Nov. 4; and Phoenix, Oct. 28.
Distance: Most events cover three miles, though they range from about 2.5 to 6 miles. Some have special shorter walks for families and children and those who want to walk but can't make the full distance.
How to sign up: Do a search by zip code or state for an event near you, then register. You can form or join a team or participate as an individual.
The cause: The annual fundraising walk generally takes place in conjunction with National Arthritis Month. Money raised funds advocacy on Capitol Hill, as well as research into a cure of arthritis and related diseases.
Location/Dates: In 2017 so far, 77 walks taking place across the U.S. have raised more than $8 million. The remaining cities hosting walks this year are Bakersfield, Calif., Dec. 9; Lake Worth, Fla., Dec. 2; and Miami, Oct. 29.
How to sign up: Participants can register online or contact the local chapter office to receive the necessary tools to organize a team.
Avon 39 brings together women and men from around the country and unites them under one goal: ending breast cancer.
The cause: Each walker raises a minimum of $1,800, which is funneled by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade to local and national organizations that help women, regardless of their ability to pay, get the breast cancer care they need. These programs provide everything from food and transportation assistance to financial help.
Location/Dates: In 2018, Boston, June 23-24; Chicago, June 9-10; Houston, April 21-22; New York, Oct. 20-21; Santa Barbara, Calif, Sept. 8-9; San Francisco, July 14-15; Washington, D.C., May 5-6.
Distance: Over two days, Avon 39ers walk 39.3 miles. When you register, you’re assigned a fundraising coach who provides as much (or as little!) help as you need to exceed your fundraising goal and find the training regimen that works for you.
How to sign up: Register as an individual, or join or form a team, online
The cause: Over the past 14 years and 156 events, funds raised have been used to save lives, support community programs and make strides in breast cancer research.
Location/Dates: In 2018, Atlanta, Oct. 12-14; Dallas-Fort Worth, Nov. 2-4; Michigan, Aug. 3-5; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Aug. 17-19; Philadelphia, Sept. 28-30; San Diego, Nov. 16-18; Seattle, Sept. 14-16.
Distance: This 60-mile walk involves 15-20 miles a day; at night, you’ll camp with other participants. For those unable to complete each day’s trek, support vehicles will be available to take walkers to the next pit stop, or ahead to camp for rest and medical attention. Accommodations are bare bones: a two-person sleeping tent to share with another participant. But sites also include a dining tent, shower trucks, and lounge and stage areas for nightly announcements and entertainment. Not a camper? The organization will provide information about nearby hotels, which include shuttles to and from camp.
How to sign up: Go to the home page, select your three-day location and complete the form. You will be guided through the registration process. Or call 800-996-3DAY to register by phone.
The cause: This creative take on the charity walk is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Now raising $5 billion annually for things like research and patient care services, the relay grew out of a single event in May 1985, when Gordon "Gordy" Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash. The next year 19 teams were part of the first relay at the Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000; today the event is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries.
Distance: Team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is 6-24 hours in length, and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. Each team sets up a themed campsite at the event and continues its fundraising efforts by collecting donations for food, goods, games and activities.
How to sign up: All you have to do is pick your event, sign up and decide how you'd like to be involved — as a team captain or a participant. The website offers helpful training materials to ensure that your participation is easy to follow and enjoyable.
The Cause: Funds for these walks, which are sponsored by American Heart Association, go toward research into the country’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke — as well as for public education and training for health care providers.
Location/Dates: Walks take place in about 300 cities, including the following in 2017: New Orleans, Nov. 11; Philadelphia, Nov. 4; San Jose, Calif., Oct. 21; Tampa, Fla., Nov. 11.
Distance: Most are 5K walks, with a few locations offering one-mile distances as well.
How to sign up: Sign up at Heartwalk.org as either a team or individual. There are no fundraising requirements, though it’s requested that you set a goal to participate.