On Sunday, March 20, 2011, I ran 13.1 beautiful miles through New York City’s Central Park, Times Square, Broadway and down along the Hudson River to Battery Park in the NYC Half Marathon. The clear skies and sun announced that spring had indeed arrived after a hard and snowy winter.

I didn’t come in first place – far from it! That honor went to Caroline Rotich of Kenya and Mo Farah of Great Britain. But, I beat my own personal record by 2 minutes and felt an amazing rush of accomplishment and satisfaction at the finish line. However, it wasn’t just that I had completed a personal and physical challenge, it was something more.

I joined hundreds of other runners on Sunday in making my race experience about something bigger than me: helping others in need and running for others who can’t. I raised money to support Tostan’s work in partnership with African communities. The New York Road Runners partnered for the first time with an innovative new website called Crowdrise to allow every runner to run for a cause. Through their website, supporters could give as little as $10 to support the cause. In total, I raised $135 for Tostan, and all I did was promote my page through a few messages on Twitter and Facebook.

Runners in Sunday’s race literally wore their passion on their shirts and sleeves. From Japan earthquake/tsunami relief to breast cancer and cerebral palsy, the spirit of giving permeated the race day atmosphere (almost as much as the sweat!). While I’ve been involved in Tostan’s mission for many years, raising money by running added a new and visceral dimension to my support. I was filled with awesome inspiration as I entered a completely closed off Times Square (the only event other than New Year’s Eve to completely shut it down!) thinking about how running could literally help empower girls and women in African communities.

I hope other athletes will consider using Crowdrise’s innovative platform and support Tostan’s mission in future races.

Click here to donate to Cody’s Crowdrise fundraiser for Tostan. The final deadline for donations is May 31st.

Story by Cody Donahue, former Coordinator of Tostan’s Department of Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning


Road Runners