September 12, 2012

Donate to Chances for Children AZ And Enable My Dearest Friend To Run Like The Wind To Help Others

My best (and first... we met when I was 2 years-old!) friend in the whole world, Tara, is running in the New York marathon on November 4, 2012. As if simply running in a marathon of that caliber wasn't daunting enough, my dear pal is also trying to raise $5000 to donate to the charity Chances for Children in Arizona. She'll be running in the marathon with Team Chances, and she needs your help raising funds.

I asked Tara to elaborate on why she chose Chances for Children as her cause and to tell us more about the mission of the charity. Here's her reply:

"Chances for Children AZ (there are different national charities with the same name), provides critical health services to underfunded k-6 school kids. They work with a handful of schools here in Phoenix who are so underfunded they have lost all their sports and physical education programs, and 90% are on the free lunch program- meaning a lot of them literally don't have enough to eat at home because they're so low-income. (And what they're eating at school is awful, since school lunch quality is so unbelievably bad now, but that's another story.)

They provide nutrition education and intervention not only to kids but also their parents, because teaching kids does nothing when they aren't the ones in control of what they eat... and of course people in poverty are going for the cheapest food possible, which is always the least healthy. That, of course, leads to poorer health, which leads to more missed school, which is even worse for families who can't afford life because then they don't get their free meals for their kids. Nasty cycle.

So, in addition to nutrition education, Chances for Children also provide sports programs and equipment to these schools; like i said, a lot of them wouldn't have anything if it weren't for Chances for Children coming in and running the show.

With the budget cuts we've had in Arizona, even the best-funded schools have cut out "specials," moved to a six-day schedule to spread the band/P.E./art teachers across more days and campuses, and fired all the librarians; the least-funded schools have no sports coaches for P.E. or any physical activities like that, which makes their bad nutrition situation worse: no exercise.

So Chances for Children comes in and provides even simple things they don't have, like shoes, and volunteer coaches and swim lessons and free passes to community pools, as well as races and events the kids *and* their parents can participate in... so it's a whole community-building effort to raise awareness and health across the board. Last year they provided 1400 pairs of shoes and almost 1000 two-week swim lessons.  

The great thing about this charity too is that they are really small overhead-wise, it's only 3 people that run it and are local, so money that gets donated translates directly into shoes and supplies. 

It's not like bigger charities where 70% goes to marketing and overhead and a tiny amount actually makes a difference; it's a few people operating on a shoestring and making a big impact where they can.

That's why i picked them instead of some of the bigger-name charities I could have run with, like the ones you see all the time at races. I wanted it to matter, and I wanted to contribute here where I could see it happening, rather than to some big corporation where it might just be a drop in the bucket."

If you have any amount of money, even $5 to spare to help Tara raise the money to run with Team Chances, please click here! Thanks!

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