As charity walks and runs lose steam, Billy Starr’s bike-athons power on. Riders bring in lots of dough—no excuses.
Unlike most charity walks and runs, the Pan-Mass Challenge (or PMC, as most call it) is not a come-one, come-all event. PMC sets aggressive fundraising minimums that range as high as $5,200, numbers that scare off all but an elite few who have either extraordinary commitment to the cause or a network of well-to-do friends. By contrast, 3 million people turned out for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events last year—with gross revenues of about $100 per person.
Not all the mainstays are losing ground. Walks for the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Heart Association, for instance, are seeing significant growth. Still, observers say traditional charity walks and runs may seem stale compared with newer, more exotic events, like color runs, the Tough Mudder series, and others.
Twenty-somethings who once filled the rosters of corporate-event teams—often the backbone of walkathons—now have many choices for doing good, says David Hessekiel, head of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. “Anyone can decide: An October walkathon doesn’t do it for me. But I love this cause, and I’m going to do something that appeals to what I’m into.”