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5 Tips for Hosting Your Own 5K for Childhood Cancer Research

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Hosting a 5k for childhood cancer research is a fun and easy way to help children battling cancer!


by Addie Martelli, ALSF

While lemonade stands are the foundation of ALSF, there are other fun and creative ways our supporters can raise money for childhood cancer research. One of those is by hosting your own 5K Race. I know it sounds like quite the undertaking, but that is exactly what we thought when ALSF planned its first Lemon Run 5K in 2009. However, eight years later it is our largest special event and an incredibly fun, family-friendly way for people to rally around the cause and support those affected by childhood cancer. Below are five tips to get you on your way to hosting a 5K in your community.

1. Find the right location. Figuring out where to hold this event can sound daunting, but try and think of a place where you would want to run or walk yourself. Maybe a park, a trail along the river or even a sports field/stadium in your community. You probably will want to avoid a neighborhood or area that would involve too many road closures. Permission from your town and certain permits may still be required, but you would be surprised by how many places you can turn into a 5K course. Once you find your spot, call your township or city offices and find out how you can get the permissions you need! 

2. Promote, promote, promote. You can’t have an event without people. Print out marketing materials like signs, fliers or postcards and ask local businesses to hang them up or keep a stack at their register. Social media is also a great way to get the word out. Post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and be sure to email all of your friends to encourage them to spread the word. Most people learn about our Foundation events through word of mouth, so the more people you tell, the better.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask. You would be surprised by how many people want to support community events. Go around to your local businesses, friends and family to tell them about the event and ask for donations of any kind. Some may donate money, but others may offer up food and beverage donations, gift cards or other services you can use.

4. Make it special. Hopefully, your 5K will turn into an annual event, so you want to keep people coming back. Make the day memorable for participants by including elements like giveaways, food, music, t-shirts and even have people cheering along the course. Although we have been hosting our 5K for years, we are always looking for what other races are doing to make the event an amazing experience for all involved. Do some research by participating in other local races and find 5Ks online to get fresh ideas about how to enhance your event.

5. Bring it back to the cause. Make your event in honor or memory of a child with cancer and encourage others to run or walk to benefit someone they know who has been affected. A lot of people don’t know what they can do to help when they learn that a family member or friend has been diagnosed. Participating in fundraisers like a 5K is a great way to show a childhood cancer hero your support and raise critical funds for research. 

Bonus Tip: Make sure there is something for everyone! Not everyone is a runner. Offer the option of walking the course as well. Also, a kids’ dash is always a hit with the little ones. And, as long as the location allows it, make your race stroller and dog-friendly so that even the smallest or furriest of supporters can be a part of the big day.

Addie Martelli is the Director of Special Events for ALSF. Since starting part-time in 2006, Addie has helped organize over 60 special events, including the Lemon Run, Philadelphia's most inspiring, cancer-fighting 5K! Register for Lemon Run here.