Athletic Tribute Events: Stepping Stone or Final Destination?

So what’s the difference between an athletic event fundraiser and an athletic tribute event? The obvious difference is of course…money. An athletic event fundraiser involves raising funds for a particular cause, charitable organization or to assist someone with medical bills, etc. It’s an amazing, usually well-organized, win-win experience that everyone should explore at some point in their lives. In 2012, participants in athletic event fundraising programs raised almost 2 billion dollars, in the U.S. alone. In contrast, an athletic tribute event, whether it be a track walk, bike tour, swim meet or marathon, has a simpler, often informal purpose behind it - to celebrate, honor or draw attention to a special hero or group of inspirational individuals. It may be a family member, a friend or even a group of people you haven't even met. Some participants may focus on the environment as they muscle through their challenge. It’s an effort not particularly geared toward raising money but more toward raising spirits, elevating attitudes, nurturing forgiveness, encouraging tolerance and inspiring gratitude. It may not even be a public endeavor. Many amateur athletes walk, golf, run, cycle and trek all around the world, in private tribute of someone special, everyday. They may journal about it afterwards, share it with close friends and family via Social Media, or they may even keep it to themselves.

An athletic tribute event is a point where athletic endeavors intersect with meditation, passion, prayer, and pilgrimage. Whether it’s public or private, any time someone trains for and participates in a physical activity they are truly passionate about, for a greater purpose, the result is pure magic. It elevates every action and person involved. At times, the thought of approaching friends and family for money turns off prospective participants, driving them to turn back before ever beginning on their fundraising journey. If you've ever been inspired by another’s courage, recovery, persistence, ethics or spiritual nature, consider launching your own tribute event or solo activity as a stepping stone toward a formal fundraising effort.

An athletic tribute event doesn’t require extensive planning, a crowd of participants, expensive gear or complex promotions. It doesn't even need to be “official” to hold great value. Even the simplest physical effort can be dedicated, in your own mind and heart, to someone or something special in your life. You may share your future intentions or keep them to yourself. Either way, rest assured, your kindness and compassion will make a difference.

In some cases, a tribute may even find you. Go ahead and plan a special athletic activity and as it unfolds, be mindful of lost friends, motivational family members, and charitable causes that have impacted your life, but don’t commit to one in particular. See how the cards play out. Often, something will click along the way and inspire the remainder of your participation.

The icing on the cake is often what you discover about yourself in the process of any athletic tribute. Large scale or small, completing a tribute ride, run, walk or swim can impact you in a positive way, for the rest of your life.

For more info on athletic event fundraising programs, athletic tribute events and adventure cycling for special causes, visit