Volunteers Make All the Difference!

As the school year kicks off and the fall race season begins, now is the time to encourage your students to volunteer and get active at the same time! Race volunteering is for everyone, and your students can help. Learning to Give met with a marathon race director to chat about how volunteers make all the difference.

Race thoughts by Marathon Don Kern:

Sports and philanthropy go hand in hand. At any running event, volunteers are there making the experience better. Most runners run several events every year, from 5K to ultra marathons. But no matter the distance, there's one thing that MAKES a race experience. Volunteers!

Athletes often travel to races and when they are in a different city, they may not know their way around. The people they know are miles away. But right in that race town, beautiful people of all ages are making sure that they know where they're going. They're keeping runners hydrated, feeding them, and cheering them on. 

There are several volunteer groups at athletic events including cross country teams, cheerleaders, scout troops, and other sports teams. These groups help the runners and the race, but they also help their team. At many races, the teams that volunteer get a donation to their program. It's their chance to do some team building AND contribute to their team. Why not help your students create a volunteer group for local races?!

Volunteering for a local race is a great lesson in philanthropy.

Many volunteer groups are high school sports teams. When they come out to volunteer for a race, they're doing something good for other people--most of the time for total strangers! They're sharing their time and talent to give to others. They're also ambassadors of the community, both the school and the town. 
Why volunteer? These lessons help you encourage students to give their time, and have fun while they're at it! 
K-2: Students will be able to define volunteerism and distinguish between volunteer and non-volunteer jobs in the school.
3-5: Define "volunteer" in this 2-part lesson where students will see themselves as volunteers.
6-8: Students reflect on the power of volunteerism and gain some perspective on the immense impact volunteers make on our economy and society. 
9-12: Students identify the role of volunteerism and research the incentives often used to attract volunteers. 

Final thoughts from Marathon Don Kern:

So, THANK YOU to all of you who stand out in the weather, no matter what it is, handing us water and Gatorade. To all of you who make sure there's paper in the porta-potties. Who lay out the post-race food. Set up the start/finish area and the expo. Hang up the signs and point runners in the right direction at the corners. Any race event is possible because VOLUNTEERS are there.
Guest blog by Marathon Don Kern
Race Director, Grand Rapids Marathon