11 Tips for Participating in Charity Walks

In anticipation of tomorrow’s March of Dimes walk, Isis mom and blogger Charlene DeLoach Oliver provides some tips for making the most of your charity walk experience.

After my healthy pregnancy and the birth of my son, I realized how fortunate I was, and am, to have a healthy boy, but I know that many other families struggle. So when I had the opportunity to walk and support the March of Dimes March for Babies last year with Isis Parenting, I immediately signed up to raise funds and awareness. (Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate in the actual walk, because pouring rain, a stroller and a baby just don’t mix.)

This year, hopes are high for a sunny day at this year’s March of Dimes March for Babies Walk, and Isis Parenting has a great team once again. If you want to get involved in this great cause, Isis Parenting is looking for wonderful people like you to join the walk on Saturday, May 7th. Registration is at 11:30am and the 3 mile walk starts at 12:30pm. No minimum fundraising requirement and lots of fun and friendships.

If you do decide to walk, there are some tips to make it enjoyable (especially if you bring a child along). These 10 tips should help anyone have the best experience possible.

(1) Water. Drink water before you leave the house so you are well hydrated, but bring some with you as well. A 20oz water bottle that you can throw away/recycle is enough. While most events have water available, don’t rely on it.  I have been at walks/races where the water, for whatever reason, did not arrive or was gone before I got there. If you are bringing a child with you, make sure you bring water for them as well.

(2) Timing. Allow enough time to get to the event.  Large events, especially in the city, require extra time. From traffic, parking, registering, and navigating yourself through thousands of people, you don’t want to be parallel parking in Chinatown when the walk is beginning 2 miles away. I know it takes extra time to get out the door with a child in tow, so pretend that the registration starts at 10:30am (the actual start time is 11:30am). By having the earlier mindset, you can schedule your morning accordingly, which will allow for unexpected snafus.  If you arrive early, it will give you time to take a breather or allow your child to run around and burn off energy.

(3) Hand Sanitizer Wipe(s). Buy a pack of individually packaged hand sanitizer wipes. Grab one and throw it in your bag, a pocket in your shorts or even your bra. Let’s face it, we probably will be visiting the porta-potty at some point, especially if walking with a little one! Having the hand sanitizer wipe, post-potty visit, will make it a little ‘cleaner’.  I would even suggest bringing a pack of tissues. Other than the obvious need for children’s runny noses, it can also serve as toilet paper. Because like the water mentioned above, don’t expect it to be there when you need it.

(4) Trash Bag. Bringing a big black trash bag is the perfect accessory.  First, it is a mat you can sit on, especially if the ground is cold, muddy or wet. Running/Walking events don’t often have chairs so you’ll have to “cop a squat” on any surface you find (and it may not be a great surface). Second, it is a great windbreaker. Depending on the event, the crowds and the weather, it may be awhile before it starts. You could be shivering, getting wet from the rain or frying in the sun. Punch a hole in the top and slip it over your head. You won’t win fashion awards, but it does cut the wind, rain and sun. When you don’t need it anymore, you can toss it, rather than lugging around windbreakers or sweatshirts.  Or if you want to take it with you, it can be folded into a little square and weighs next to nothing. Though please be careful with bags around small children.

(5) Sunscreen/Hat. Even if it is overcast or cloudy, bring sunglasses, a hat and/or sunscreen. Put the sunscreen on before you leave the house and bring some with you. The sunscreen will not effectively last the entire registration/walk/post-event activities so you will need to reapply at some point.  A hat will also cut down on the sun’s rays and serve as a cover for rainy mist too. Don’t forget the babies and children if they are coming with you! I love the sunscreen wipes that are on the market.  Throwing a couple in with your hand-sanitizing wipes makes it super easy to apply.

(6) Money/Identification. Make sure you have money in your pocket and identification on your number and/or stroller. I hate to be a downer, but it is always good to be prepared.  Whether you need to catch a cab or need to buy some emergency snacks, a few bills in your pocket is a good backup.  Having your name on your shirt, or a tag on the stroller, with a contact number and medical information will ensure proper care if it is needed. Even if it is not a medical emergency, you may find that your child has a complete melt-down at mile 1.25 and you need bail and head back to the car. Unless you happened to have walked in the direction of your car, you may need to hail a taxi.

(7) Old Sneakers. I always think it is obvious, but am shocked when I see bright, white (and new) sneakers on the feet of walkers/runners.  Never wear new sneakers to an race/walking event!  Unbroken-in sneakers can cause blisters, sores and muscle strain. If you need new sneakers, buy them now and wear them everywhere over the next few days to break them in. Same with any other clothing you may be wearing. That new headband you just bought may give you a headache, the new sunglasses may be pinching your nose, or the new shorts rubbing a sore spot on your thigh. After three miles of the headache, pinching and rubbing, you will not be a happy walker. So stick with your tried and true so you won’t be black and blue.

(8) Wash Cloth. This is more essential if the weather is warm, but you will be sweaty/grimy post-walk even on a cooler day. When you head back to the car, throwing some water on a dry wash cloth and wiping down your face, arms and legs will make you feel like a million bucks. Diaper wipes or something similar also does the trick if you happen to be bringing a child along.

(9) Snacks. Most events have some great snacks at the end. But don’t count on it. By the time you cross the finish line, the faster walkers/runners may have depleted the stock, you just don’t like the offerings or you have to be conscious of food-allergies. Having your favorite nutrition bar in the car or your bag is a great backup if you have to pass up the event offerings. Pack extra snacks for the little ones too!

(10) Well-stocked (but not huge) bag. It is tempting to bring provisions that would last you weeks to an event like this, especially if you are walking with a child.  Yet do your best to limit the load because you will be lugging it three miles. Parents know best, but don’t underestimate the entertainment factor of the music, sights and sounds that may negate the need for a pile of toys. In addition to the tips above, items like a couple of diapers and formula (if needed) are key.  A blanket to keep the chill or sun away can be essential too. It can also be draped over the stroller if you
need to calm your baby.  A lovey or other soothing object can help if they feel overwhelmed with the crowd.

Bonus idea: Get Your Child Involved. Depending on the age of your child, you can teach them about how you are helping others, share the background of the March for Babies organization, or have them help you raise money by putting the stamp on the envelope or having a lemonade stand.  If they are coming to the event as well, have them decorate the stroller or make a special t-shirt they can wear.  Events like these can be great teaching opportunities and getting them involved in the event can make the event be fun rather than overwhelming. If they seem fearful with the crowd and the noise, reminding them of why you are there can possibly help or you can provide a distraction by having them waive the sign they made for the event.

Regardless of whether you follow the tips above or not, have a blast. Enjoy the people and the scenery. Be courteous to others around you, especially if you are pushing a stroller. Get out and walk this week to get ready for this extraordinary event for such a great cause.

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(Picture is my own, but please note that pets are allowed at the March for Babies event, but must be on a leash and bring bags to pick up after them!)

Charlene DeLoach Oliver has an 18-month-old son and blogs about parenting at Charlene Chronicles. Charlene’s Metrowest Mamas Facebook Page is a great resource for learning about family events in metrowest Boston.

About An Isis Parent

These Isis Parents have generously offered to share their stories of the triumphs and challenges of childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting and beyond.

No Responses to 11 Tips for Participating in Charity Walks
  1. Roger Carr
    May 8, 2011 | 6:53 pm

    Congratulations on participating in the March of Dimes walk. I love to read from people who take part in these type of events. I also enjoyed reading your preparation tips. Doing a few things prior to the walk can make the experience more enjoyable. I am sorry to hear you have experienced events that ran out of water and snacks. However, I have learned from your experience and will be taking water and snacks to my future walks (just in case).

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