By Gene Gurkoff, founder of Charity Miles
Editor’s Note: Today the UN Foundation joins with the UN and partners around the world like Charity Miles to celebrate the International Day of Charity.  Tune in to from 3pm-6pm ET for an event at the UN commemorating the day.
I started running marathons 11 years ago to raise money for Parkinson’s research in honor of my grandfather who has the disease.
At the outset, I thought of this as a publicity stunt: challenge myself to something so outrageous that my friends would donate — if for no other reason than because they wanted to dare me to go through with it.
But each successive race seemed less outrageous. My friends all knew I was going to finish. Many of them were even getting in on the action — if not with marathons, then with half marathons, 10ks, triathlons and mud races.
And, of course, we’re not the only ones.  The last decade has seen a boom in people moving to raise money for charity. Nearly 12 million Americans walked, ran, or biked for charity last year, collectively raising over $1.5 billion.
To me, this is the coolest thing happening in philanthropy. And it’s not just about the money. It’s about the purpose we wear into our soles each day, the people we bring with us on our journeys, and the metaphor of 12 million people physically and spiritually striving for a better world.
So this International Day of Charity, please lace up and join us. You don’t have to run far or fast. You don’t even have to ask your friends for money. Just carry a cause in your heart for at least a mile and see where the road takes you. As we like to say at Charity Miles, #EveryMileMatters!
— Gene Gurkoff is the founder of Charity Miles, a free iPhone/Android app that enables you to earn money for charity from corporate sponsors when you walk, run or bike.