Fourteen Ideas to Make Your Walkathon Fun for Kids

Happy Walkathon WalkerHow will you keep your walkers entertained, especially if most of them are kids?  A few walkathon entertainment ideas:

  1. Do things ahead of time to get the walkers engaged in what’s to come.  For example, if you will have special event T Shirts, get your principal, pastor or another beloved figure to show up wearing the shirt a few weeks before the event, then give a speech about the event.
  2. Have special awards for milestones reached during the walk.  The kids can collect them.  For example, we’ve used colored ribbons for each mile walked, and we’ve also used very thin, rubber band-like jelly bracelets.  The kids love to compare collections.
  3. You might like to look at my walkathon lap card product for tracking distance.  If your route isn’t a loop you could design something similar based on other milestones.  The kids love to look at how many holes they have punched in their cards.
  4. Set up a PA system and have a DJ.  Play music and use the system for announcements.
  5. Have Karaoke.
  6. Have an orange slice station – a table stocked with orange slices and water.
  7. Have little fun things to do along the route, like “kick a soccer goal”, etc.
  8. If it’s hot, have volunteers stationed with misting sprayers (about $1 from Target), who also help keep an eye on things
  9. Set up a “mist tent” right on the course, with misting hoses attached.
  10. Have a photographer.
  11. Have a raffle.
  12. Have a live band.
  13. Have a “pocket lady” – a nice mom or grandma figure who wears an apron covered with pockets.   Each pocket holds a different trinket.  Walkers can pay 25 cents to choose a pocket and get a surprise.
  14. Have concessions.  You can often get food donations in exchange for publicity for the donor.  Give away one free item per walker, such as a popsicle or hot dog.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Learn more about Lap Cards.

Nominate a Top Walkathon Volunteer for Cash, Sweat and Tears Award

Cash Sweat and TearsDo you have a walkathon volunteer who stands out in deserving recognition? Check out Run Walk Ride’s “Cash, Sweat and Tears” award opportunity. It’s free to apply, and applications are due tomorrow.

Just by applying you will honor your volunteer. Every nominee will be honored with a Cash, Sweat and Tears Certificate of Merit and recognition on http://www.runwalkride.com. One outstanding nominee will be recognized at the opening dinner of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference. They’ll be honored with a trophy, a $500 donation to the charity of their choice from Blackbaud and a wardrobe of athletic footwear and apparel donated by New Balance.

The Big Picture – Seven Tips for Planning a Walkathon

Autumn PathLet’s take a break from all the walkathon details, and take a  look at the big picture for walkathon planning.   Here are seven thoughts to help you still be aware of  the trees but yet be in control of the whole  walkathon forest.  (I hope you like my metaphorest).


1. Focus on getting volunteers, and everything else goes more smoothly

As chair of the event, your first inclination may be to jump in and start taking care of the details.  But remember, your role is to keep an eye on the big picture and support the many others who help make the event a success. Be relentless about recruiting volunteers starting day 1 and throughout the walkathon planning cycle.   Put a lot of thought into clearly defining walkathon volunteer roles.  Unencumbered by details, you can be available as a sounding board and cheering section for your team while they tackle their respective areas of responsibility.

2. Pinpoint a specific cause within your overall goals

Most walkathons already have a larger cause like the school, animal shelter, or another charity.   However if you have the option, be more specific by pinpointing tangible and visible items to be purchased.  That way your community can see the results of their efforts.

3. Be aware of interdependencies
Work with your committee chairs to create a  walkathon planning timeline and chart of all of your planning activities, and identify areas where one committee needs deliverables from another.  Make sure everyone is aware of these important timing needs.

4. Leverage technology
Take advantage of one of the great software tools out there to speed recruiting volunteers and allowing them to select their roles and time slots.  In addition, if you have a few helpers with a strong technical aptitude, consider using an online tool for collecting donations or setting up a blog to publicize your event.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel

You will need to hand out walkathon registration forms, sponsor letters, publicity flyers and instruction sheets.  There are plenty of well done examples as close as your Internet connection, and twenty pages of them in the back of my e-book ready to copy, paste, edit and go.  Use those!

6. Have a pinch hitter team
Even with the best of planning, you’ll find a few things falling through the cracks in the last few days before your event and on walkathon day itself.  Have a few trusty volunteers ready to catch them, so that you can remain sane during the most hectic part of your planning process.

7. Celebrate success at every step
During the planning process, walkathon day, and when the final funds have been counted, how and what will you celebrate?  Be sure to point out great jobs done by your planning team all along the way.  Then decide ahead of time what milestones you’ll recognize for your walkers, whether it’s number of laps or miles walked or amount of funds raised.  During the event, consider having special prizes at each distance milestone, such as jelly bracelets or showy beads on a necklace.  After the event, a slide show may be in order.   Don’t let the opportunity to revel in success slip by.  For one, you’ll add enthusiasm for next year’s walkathon.  But more importantly, everyone deserves the fun of recognizing a job well done.

If you’re new here, take a look around this blog and check out The Walkathon Guide e-book, which you can purchase and download in about three minutes.  There are plenty of details here!  But remember to stay on top of the big picture and delegate those details, to end up with an awesome, well organized walkathon and a very calm and happy walkathon chair (that being you!).

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Learn more about Lap Cards.

Plan your Walk-a-thon Celebration Up Front

If you’re just starting to organize a walk-a-thon, it may seem strange to think about how you will celebrate.  But planning now lets you make the celebration more meaningful because you can easily cover the details if you’re aware of them.

Four Ways to Celebrateasnci

  1. Have a slide show.  Line up some photographers for the day of the event, and have them get shots of as many participants as possible.  Check out the inspiring slide show put together as part of the Autism Awareness Walk-a-thon in North Central Indiana.
  2. Have awards for longest distance or most funds raised.  Tell participants ahead of time to get their competitive juices going, and be sure to track the info you’ll need.
  3. Give every walker a certificate of participation that also denotes distance walked.  Line up a volunteer to create the certificates and be sure your organizers have the records available.  That way they will get started right away even if you personally are still recovering from walk-a-thon day.
  4. Publicy thank your volunteers.

Schedule your after -walkathon celebration up front to get it on everyone’s calendars right along with the walkathon itself.  Then when it’s ready, send me a link to your slideshow!  I’ll be celebrating too.

Recognition Goes a Long Way

A quick tip for volunteer leaders, is to thank, thank, and thank again.  You’ll want to start the thank yous the day you start planning the event.  The best form of recognition is direct and specific.  If you’re doing a lot of organizing by email, be sure to end most notes with a thank you and a reminder of the impact the volunteer is making.  If you are holding a series of meetings, take time to acknowledge milestones achieved and the people who acheived them.  A well deserved thank you is never out of place.