Five Fitness-Focused Charities to Support #GivingTuesday and Beyond

Tis the season to be jolly … and generous, kind and charitable. Whether you’re thinking about spending your holiday bonus on someone other than yourself, looking for an end-of-year tax write-off or hoping to spread some good cheer on #GivingTuesday, you can feel joyful about supporting any (or all!) of the fitness-focused causes below.

Girls on the Run

Through innovative programming, Girls on the Run participants gain confidence, develop life skills and form positive connections. Plus, these third through eighth graders all train to run a 5K race. By the time they toe that start line, Girls on the Run participants have already experienced an engaging curriculum on competence, confidence, character, care and connections. Josie, a sixth-grader, sums it up: “Girls on the Run could make any girl fearless because when you’re surrounded by people you trust, respect and care for, nothing can hold you back from being the most beautiful person you have grown to be.” Make your gift here.


Were you the kid on the playground who was always picked last in kickball? Or maybe you spent your recess hiding out under the slides? Not saying I’m speaking from personal experience here … but if I was, it sure would have been nice to have Playworks around when I was growing up! Playworks is on a mission to change school culture by bringing back recess – and not just any recess. In the Playworks model, coordinators lead organized games that teach social and emotional skills, like conflict-resolution techniques and leadership. Kids are also free to play their own games, as long as they remain inclusive and positive. It’s a far cry from “cooties,” that’s for sure. Support Playworks here.

Special Olympics

For nearly 50 years, the Special Olympics has given people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to shine on the track, in the pool and on the court. As an international organization, the Special Olympics ensures that children and adults from around the world enjoy opportunities to build global friendships and communities. With over 30 Olympic-style events, there are endless ways for participants to put their athletic skills to the test – and become empowered and confident in the process. If you’ve ever seen a Special Olympics event, you know that all of these athletes are champions. Give to the Special Olympics here.

Surfers Healing

As it is for many people, surfing the waves is a peaceful and calming experience for Isaiah Paskowitz. In fact, for Isaiah, it’s a way to help manage his autism, including the meltdowns and sensory overload that accompany his condition. When his parents saw the effect the waves had on their son, they decided to start Surfers Healing; Isaiah’s father, Israel, is a championship surfer. Today, their camps serve more than 4,500 children each year – at no cost to the families. It’s athletic adventure, therapeutic emotion and joyful expression, all rolled into one empowering ride. Make your gift here.

World Bicycle Relief

The focus of this organization is less about biking as an athletic activity and more about biking as a lifesaving endeavor – but we can get behind that. World Bicycle Relief provides sturdy, durable bikes to students, health care workers, farmers and entrepreneurs in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Many of these recipients had previously walked tens of miles every day to support their education or fulfill their job responsibilities. The impact of one bike ripples outward in innumerable ways. For example, health care volunteers are able to make 45 percent more visits when they have a bike to facilitate transportation. Get onboard by supporting World Bicycle Relief here.

Which charities are you supporting during #GivingTuesday and the rest of this holiday season? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About Kelsey Schagemann

Kelsey is a former NCAA Division III cross country and track athlete who exchanged sneakers for spin shoes in her twenties. Hailing from the great state of Oregon (by way of St. Louis, where she spent her childhood), Kelsey has made Chicago her home since 2006. She can often be found at the helm of her daughter’s stroller, walking miles throughout the city. Her other favorite fitness activities include spinning, yoga, lifting weights and biking. As a freelance writer, Kelsey works with universities, nonprofits, websites and magazines (visit for more information). In her spare time, she enjoys trying new recipes, traveling with her family and keeping the library in business. Kelsey holds a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.