Getting active with your family has many physical benefits, but walking for a cause can teach your kids compassion and the value of volunteerism. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, casual walker, or just want to spend time in the fresh air while helping others, there are many annual fundraising walks to choose from in the New York City area. Each walk listed here raises money and awareness for causes close to many of our hearts, including special needs, early childhood diseases, and children’s causes. Some are held virtually while others are in person in the spring and fall; check these walks’ websites for upcoming charity walks, locations, and registration information. So lace up your running shoes, apply your sunscreen, bring water to stay hydrated, and get out there to walk for a good cause.
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- Cancer Care and Research
- Mental Health Awareness
- Health Care and Research
- Special Needs Services
- Other Fundraising Walks in NYC
The Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s annual walkathon raises money to find a cure for childhood cancer. Traditionally, it has been held in New York City, but turned virtual in 2021. The organization continues to encourage participants to plan walks throughout the year and create a personal web page to fundraise online.
Totaling four miles, this walk supports pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center known for its patient care and commitment to research. The walk was virtual in 2021.
These annual walks work to raise money to help the American Cancer Society fight breast cancer through research and early detection. Money raised has also helped provide patient services like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near treatment, and a live 24/7 cancer helpline. There are several walks scheduled in the metro area throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Relay for Life transforms the typical fundraising walk into a virtual or in-person event where participants can lead a team, join an existing team, or participate solo in support of the American Cancer Society. There are dozens of relays throughout the metro region, including Manhattan, Yonkers, Jamaica, Middle Village, Paterson, Bronx, and more. Create an account on the website to find out information about a specific event.
For over 30 years, the Greater New York City Race for the Cure has raised significant awareness and funds for breast cancer, as well as celebrated and honored those who have been impacted. This year, the event was virtual. Check the website for updates regarding next planned race dates and locations.
Founded by the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the St. Jude Walk/Run walk donates all proceeds to fighting childhood cancer. Participants can walk individually or start a team in their community to help the hospital with fundraising.
This 5K family fun run/walk will raise funds for cancer research at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York in the name of Canadian Terry Fox. At age 18, Fox was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma in his right leg, which had to be amputated. He became convinced that a cure for cancer could be found through cancer research, but funds were in short supply. He began running marathons to raise money for cancer research until he was forced to stop because the cancer had spread to his lungs. He died a month shy of his 23rd birthday.
These walking events, held throughout the country, help support the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans suffering from mental illness. The organization is an alliance of more than 600 local affiliates who work in communities to raise awareness and provide support and education to those in need.
2. NEDA WALK
These events, held in the fall near National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, raise awareness and funds for the National Eating Disorders Association, which is committed to providing help and hope for those affected by eating disorders.
These walks benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a leading national nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit also reaches out to people with mental health issues and those impacted by suicide, our country’s 10th leading cause of death. During the pandemic in 2020, the organization held a variety of physically distanced activities known as Out of the Darkness Experiences, and then went back to in-person events throughout the country in 2021. More information about registering for the upcoming NYC and other local walks is available on the website.
Join the fight against HIV/AIDS. The NYC AIDS Walk, which benefits HIV programs and services in the tristate area including GMHC, has become the largest AIDS fundraiser event in the world. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, GMHC and AIDS Walk New New York altered its format to reach people at home, delivering meals, crisis counseling, and more to clients where they live.
Raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States, with more than 75 percent of people diagnosed with CF by age 2. The nonprofit foundation funds research into drugs that fight this debilitating disease and aims to improve the quality of life for those living with CF.
Sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, this walk raises money to find a cure for type 1 diabetes through educating children about diabetes and making healthy choices.
Walk or run to support the American Lung Association, the leader in the fight against lung disease, which claims the lives of more than 400,000 Americans each year. The American Lung Association launched a COVID-19 action initiative in April 2020 to help end the virus and stop other emerging respiratory viruses. The organization will have a charity runner team at the NYC Marathon on Nov. 7, 2021. Visit the website for more information on becoming part of the team.
March for Babies, sponsored by the March of Dimes foundation, raises funds for babies born prematurely and children born with birth defects. The organization supports research, leads programs and provides education and advocacy to help ensure mothers and babies have the best possible start.
When? The next walk is scheduled for May 21, 2022. Check the website as the date gets closer for details on location.
This walk raises funds for kids with Angelman Syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder that is often confused with cerebral palsy or autism. All proceeds go to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation to promote research, support services, and awareness.
Easterseals raises money for children with special needs and their families by holding several annual walks throughout the New York metro area and encouraging participants to create personal web pages to fundraise online. The money raised helps the organization provide services that help ensure people with disabilities and/or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. Since 2003, over 230,000 people have participated in Walk With Me events nationwide, generating nearly $41 million to support families at Easterseals.
The Buddy Walk supports children and families affected by Down syndrome by sponsoring a 1-mile walk in multiple New York locations. Walks are often added throughout the year, so check the website for the most updated walk schedule.
This walk takes place nationwide and supports Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research on the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism.
This program focuses on giving children in unstable living situations the gift of a bedtime routine through providing pajamas and books. With more than 6 million pajamas and books donated so far, the group aims to continue raising funds, supplies, and awareness for children in need.
Held each year, the event symbolizes firefighter Stephen Siller’s final footsteps from the foot of the Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers and pays homage to the 343 firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers, and thousands of civilians who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Each year, the Wildlife Conservation Society Run for the Wild at the Bronx Zoo is dedicated to a species in need of conservation. Participants can run a 5K or or take part in a family run/walk around the zoo.