Travel for free while helping others

One of the most common reasons why people can’t travel is often due to funds, or a lack of funds. Let’s face it, not everyone can afford to buy an airline ticket and pay for a hotel room, even for a short vacation. I want to share with you a way to travel without having to pay for your airline ticket or your hotel room. Sounds too good to be true? Read on.

I established my first ever bucket list in 1983 when I was 23 years old. One of the items on the list was to complete a marathon before my 40th birthday. Seems like a reasonable goal, but the reality was that I was not a runner, in fact, I wasn’t even a jogger. As my 40th birthday approached, I consulted some of my running friends to get some advice on training. My aim was to complete the marathon, not break any records. I did train for the Honolulu marathon, which I did mostly walk, and during the long race day, I noticed teams of runners and walkers wearing “Joints in Motion” and “Team Diabetes” singlets. I asked what the group was all about, and discovered that they were all part of a team that fundraises for a cause as well as complete a distance race.

After a few weeks of recovery, I looked into the two major groups I saw during the marathon. Both the Joints in Motion (for the Arthritis Society) and Team Diabetes (for the Diabetes Association) have different programs whereby a jogger/runner/walker raises a minimum amount of funds and the trip itself to a great variety of locations is covered.

My first experience with such a project was with the Joints in Motion group. I was assigned a young girl that I was honoring through the project. She and her family taught me a lot about arthritis and the challenges of having that disease at a very young age. I had to raise $5000 and the half-marathon I chose was the one in Disney World Orlando Florida. The fundraising was a bit challenging, but not as much as the training for the race. I did walk most of it and the day of the race we had torrential rains the entire time. I still was very proud to cross the finish line and know that the funds I raised were going to research and development.

Disney half marathon

MY subsequent projects were with Team Diabetes since many of my family members were diabetic. One race was in Bermuda (a marathon walked in torrential rains, again!) and back in Honolulu. I will be honest and state that the fundraising part takes a certain amount of time, but I discovered that there are so many ways to raise funds for a great cause. I sold off my collection of Beanie Babies (remember those?) and called them Diabeanies – for a minimum donation of $10, people could choose a Beanie Baby. Most donated much more than $10, and my obsolete collection of Beanies served a better cause. We put on a Bluegrass concert and had a silent auction that brought in more than a third of my required funds.

Bermuda half marathon

Hawaii full marathon

There are many groups that do similar projects, but instead of walking or running a marathon, half marathon or 10k, you trek a certain trail or other similar projects. If you have interest in traveling but your piggy bank isn’t quite full yet, consider checking these groups: Joints in Motion, Team Diabetes, Team Leukemia and many others.

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

78 thoughts on “Travel for free while helping others

  • December 5, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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    OMGGGG, you are the type of blogger that makes me so proud to be in a part of this community. Your selfless yet self conscious act of love is commendable. Your blog post was so honest and your involvement in the many projects makes me believe in the good. Also I must congratulate you on participating in the marathon, I intend to do one in 2018 and you inspire me to make it happen.

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    • December 5, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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      Oh Sheena, what beautiful comments! You made my heart sing! Good luck on your marathon – it’s quite the experience, whether one finishes first, or last! Enjoy the journey!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm
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    I don’t think it matters how much you walked a race. The fact is you did this and you did it well! I use to do runs in my old city and I very much miss it. I should definitely start trying again.

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    • December 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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      Hi Angela, thanks for your comments.I agree, the fact is I will NOT break records, so my aim is to enjoy the process, take my time, and cross the same finishing line as the first runner!!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm
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    Wow you are absolutely amazing! Your post has inspired me and filled my heart with joy…

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  • December 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm
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    This is so inspiring.. you do two great things together.. make memories while you travel and make friends while you help.. awesome.. keep up the good work

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:40 pm
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      Hi Kapila, Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 7:14 pm
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    This is awesome – you help people while doing what you love. I’m not much of a runner too but I try and I think that’s the most important thing!

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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      Hi Joline, thanks for your comments. You don’t have to be a runner to do these races – I’m actually a walker, and many marathons will allow for walkers to participate.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:25 am
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    This is so awesome! It sounds like such an amazing opportunity. It sounds like a great reason to travel and an even better reason to do a marathon!

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:38 pm
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      Hi Liz and thanks for your comments. I gave up on the marathons but still do 10ks. I wouldn’t trade those fundraising projects for anything!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 11:12 am
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    What a noble cause you have taken up. I really appreciate your honest talk about affording to travel. And you seem to have found a great cause to support too.

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:37 pm
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      Hi and thanks for your comments. I have been very blessed with all types of projects.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm
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    Doing a race like this is definitely on my list. I commend you for doing it!

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm
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      Hi Deb,
      Thanks for your comments. I am still doing 10ks, and have enjoyed each and every race I’ve done, even if I usually come in almost last.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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    You found a solution to your need all while helping others. This is something we all can do that would make this place we call home a much better place to live.

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm
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      Hi Mary, thanks for your kind comments. Itès interesting that many people have no idea how many options there are to help out! There is something for everyone.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm
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    This is definitely giving me food for thought as I love to travel and also have a passion for certain charitable organizations, especially ones that benefit children or cancer research. Definitely something to think about!

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    • December 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm
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      Thanks Caitlin for your comments. I think any type of involvement with charitable orgs is a great thing!

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  • December 7, 2017 at 12:31 am
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    That is a win win situation. You get do do something you enjoy and you get to help someone in the process. I love that charities have programs like this available.

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    • December 7, 2017 at 6:38 am
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      Hi Tyra, thanks for your comments. The programs like the ones I have followed really offer a lot, from the idea of training to the steps of fundraising…

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  • December 7, 2017 at 6:07 am
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    This story is so inspiring. You restore so many faith That I have lost in humanity. Thanks for everything you are doing and for sharing.

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    • December 7, 2017 at 6:37 am
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      Thanks Sujenne for your kind comments. I really appreciate your sentiments.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 6:38 am
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    I love this! Such an inspiration! I will look for Team Stroke. I’ve been an advocate for accessible travel since my husband had a stroke 4 years ago and running a marathon for a cause is very motivating!

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    • December 7, 2017 at 7:03 am
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      Hi Bianca, so happy to read that you might consider doing a race. The good thing is that if you are NOT a runner, many of the marathons can be walked. Speed is not of the essence, but doing it all and crossing that line will be one of the highlights of such an event.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 7:06 am
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    I love this. You are inspiring. Your kind of travel with a cause is fulfilling both for you and your cause. The best kind of memories.

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    • December 7, 2017 at 2:17 pm
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      Hi Tanya, thanks for your lovely comments. You are right, it really provided some amazing memories!

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  • December 7, 2017 at 9:57 am
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    Such great ideas! And I really love that you mentioned that you walked part of the marathon; that’s also a way to participate! I’d love to do one someday, and I can run a bit (my max is 10k up until now), but the prospect of a marathon seems daunting. However, seeing that it is only possible to walk parts, this might actually be something that I CAN do some day!

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    • December 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm
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      Thanks Adine for your comments. I actually walked most of the marathons with the exception of the half in Disney, where I walked and slowly jogged – – it’s all doable by walking! Hopefully that will encourage non-runners like me to set their minds to do such a distance. You certainly can do it!

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  • December 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm
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    This post will inspire so many, myself included. The fact that you set your mind to something and you did it… and then after doing it you inspired others. You are a beautiful selfless soul.. keep doing what you doing… and share it with the world.

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    • December 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm
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      Lisa, your kind comments warmed my heart! Thanks so very much

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  • December 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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    You are the best and your experience is very inspiring! I really appreciate what you do! Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

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    • December 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm
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      Hi Mirela and thank you for your kind comments. I really look back with respect and admiration to those who organize such projects! We were over 35 in Hawaii and there are groups in training everywhere!

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  • December 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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    Well done for offering your time and raising money for great causes. It is such a nice thing to do and you get to travel! Where can we donate for your next cause?

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    • December 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm
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      Thanks Lucy for your comments, and for your wonderful offer to donate to my next cause. As it stands, I am between projects, but I am sure there are so many charities out there that would be more than thankful to get your support!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:49 am
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      Hi Alexandria, thanks for your comments. I have to see the project as a journey, and I don’t feel less of an achievement by walking the race rather than running it. I cross that finish line just like the first runner does, and that is what counts to me. The effort I put in the project keeps me going.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 5:14 pm
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    Glad that you could fulfill your dream on the deadline that you had put for yourself. Tell me, what do you feel once you have fulfilled the dream. Do you set up the next goal for yourself or do you take time off to relish the achievement? Just Curious!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:48 am
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      Hi Anu, Fulfilling the dream is nice, but I’m one who looks forward to the journey as much as the completion. I am a goal-focused person, so I find a new project a few weeks after the completion of the last one. I relish the experience before, during and after the project. Thanks for asking!

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  • December 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm
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    What a great way to fulfill your dreams and do some good in this world! I love the Diabeanies idea! 🙂 I hope you can continue on this lovely path – kudos!
    – Ioanna

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:47 am
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      Hi Ionna, thanks for your kind words. The Diabeanies were a great fundraiser – and it was great to meet the people who donated, since most knew of someone who had diabetes.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm
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    What a great idea! I love that you’re able to see new places and help these great causes at the same time. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:45 am
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      Hi Sherrie, thanks for your comments. The projects combined so many great things, including the traveling.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm
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    Giving back is one of the greatest things we can do! I love that you offered your time to raise money for such great causes and it is an added bonus that you also got to travel

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:45 am
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      Hi Cassie, thanks for your comments. The bonus for me was truly to take part of a big project, both in terms of fundraising and completing the race, and educating folks on the cause.

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  • December 8, 2017 at 1:40 am
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    This is awesome! I never knew about these programs. I am not a runner either, but I love to travel. What a great way to be able to raise funds for charities and be able to see new places.

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:43 am
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      Hi Stephanie – thanks for your comments. This was one of the reason I was so attracted to the projects – the chance to be part of such races, and to help and to travel as well!

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  • December 8, 2017 at 5:04 pm
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    The rain loves you! I am excited to know about these organizations because if I run a marathon soon I will absolutely do it for a cause.

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:42 am
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      Hi Jen, thanks for your comments. Remember that one doesn’t need to “run” the marathon. I am far from being an athlete and I will likely never “run” a race, but race walking is just as good! We cross the line the same way the winning runners do!

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  • December 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm
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    I agree with Sheena! Having real stories as posts is so important. This is the kind of thing I want to see from a blog. I love it! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and being such a kind and inspiring person! 🙂

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:41 am
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      Oh Measha, your comments touched my heart. I’ve been inspired by so many, and if I can inspire even one person to do something similar, that would be a great outcome!

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  • December 8, 2017 at 9:35 pm
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    Making sure to give back and to join causes is so important. So happy to see you enjoying doing just that!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 2:40 am
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      Hi Bobbi – thanks for your comments. There are so many ways we can help out, and if travel is important to someone, then it’s a win win situation.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 5:34 am
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    Good for you. I’m glad you found a group that works for you and that your comfortable serving. I have run 5k and would like to make my way to something bigger just for the challenge of it. I have been encouragin my daughter to look for volunteer opportunities to help with her travel experiences.

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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      Hi Rose, thanks for your comments. Encouraging our kids to take part in volunteering efforts is a great way to show them gratitude! After all, there are so many options for people to help others. congrats on your 5k – good luck with future races!

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  • December 10, 2017 at 4:01 am
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    That’s great you were able to do that half marathon. I am sure it was a great experience supporting those groups and helping bringing awareness of their causes.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 4:42 am
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    OMG best blog ever! It’s so kind of you to dedicate yourself for fund raising to help others. Your story inspires me a lot. You make me believe that there are still many good people in this world. Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate it.

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    • December 11, 2017 at 4:47 am
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      Oh thanks so very much for your kind comments. I’m glad my story inspired you, and hopefully, others. Traveling can be done in many ways, we just have to think differently in terms of getting ourselves to the destinations.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 8:52 am
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    This is really inspiring. Thanks a lot for sharing and keep it going. Helping others is the best way

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  • December 10, 2017 at 11:14 pm
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    Wow! This is so inspiring!! Congratulations on finishing the race, such an accomplishment!!

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  • December 11, 2017 at 7:02 am
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    What a great way to give back while also doing something for your own health. I think it is so selfless of you to give up your collection of beanie babies for a greater cause! Very inspiring!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:45 pm
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      Thanks for your comments Cynthia – The Beanies were an integral part of my campaign, and it turns out my collection wasn’t worth much in $$, but it was worth gold for my fundraising effort!

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  • December 11, 2017 at 1:53 pm
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    it never mattered how much you walked a race. The fact is you did this and you did it well! awesome post to read 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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      Hi Sonali, thanks for your comments. I agree with you, walk or run, when someone crosses that finish line, they have accomplished the same as the runner who came in 1st place -they FINISHED the race!

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  • December 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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    Wow ths is super inspiring! Congrats on doing the race I did my first triathlon this year — not easy!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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      Hi Mike, thanks for your comments. Congrats on your first tri – – I contemplated doing tris, but my swimming is not up to par… YET! 🙂

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  • December 11, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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    It would be so nice to travel with a purpose other than touring or visiting a place or a country. I think helping people out is a lovely initiative!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:47 pm
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      Thanks Carol for your comments. The fun thing about doing a race that brings you to a location, is that you still have loads of time to visit!

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  • December 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm
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    I have always wanted to take part in a marathon! congratulations to you for achieving that. its a great accomplishment

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    • December 12, 2017 at 5:54 am
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      Merci Janella – I felt the accomplishment was actually going through the training and the fundraising – the race end was just the finishing piece!

      Reply

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