Every year Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Walkathon draws supporters from all over the country. Some are volunteers, some graduates, some sponsors and others just want to get out and walk with their best friend. With its growing popularity this year’s Walkathon is actually happening over three weekends!
February 23 sees the kick-off of the trifecta of Walkathons in Bradenton at the newly renovated Rossi Park. Walkathon is going back to its roots and kicking off with the Bradenton contingent along the Manatee Riverfront.
Next, Walkathon moves to Sarasota for its first walk at Payne Park on March 2. Our friends from the south can enjoy all Walkathon has to offer while not having to venture too far from home.
Finally, the Walkathon season culminates on March 9 as we head once again to beautiful Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. Last year’s walk in St. Pete saw the biggest crowds in the 27-year history of Walkathon and we hope to surpass that number this year!
Each walk will have fun and excitement for the whole family with a street fair vibe complete with food vendors and fun things to do and see.
What makes our Walkathons different from all other charity walks? It’s dog-friendly, of course! Not only are dogs welcome, but they are expected to join in on the fun — and your registration includes a dog bandana (and a t-shirt for you)!
You’re likely to be walking alongside dogs from Southeastern as well, as many graduates, puppy raisers and ambassador handlers join in the fun and are expected to participate in at least one, if not all three, of the walks. There is even a chance for you to experience what it is like to walk blindfolded with a trained dog.
There are lots of activities for the family after you have made your way around the 3K course. There will be music, kid-zone activities, local vendors, our own Southeastern Guide Dogs gift shop, food galore, and many other happenings! Additionally, at the St. Petersburg walk there will be a raffle drawn for a grand prize of $10,000! Raffle tickets are available now and can be turned in at all three walks. These are a great way to raise money.
So why are we talking about this now? Well, while Walkathon is a fantastically fun event, it is first and foremost a fundraiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs. The money raised from Walkathon allows us to continue to create and support approximately 100 teams per year, all at no charge to the recipient.
So now is the time to start your personal fundraising; put together a team of walkers at work and get pledges; start a friendly competition with your spouse over who can raise the most; hold a car wash or bake sale with the proceeds going to your Walkathon total; etc., etc., etc. An easy way to start is to go to www.guidedogs.org/Walkathon for tons of information and to set-up your personal fundraising page and then send out that link to everyone in your address book – you’ll be surprised at how generous your contacts can be.
Want some more incentive? If you or your team collectively raises at least $3,500, you can sponsor a puppy and that honor comes with naming (and bragging) rights! Think about it, a dog named after someone special to you could one day provide someone with the gift of mobility and independence.
So save the dates of February 23, March 2 & March 9 for fun walks with your whole family, but hit the bricks now to achieve your fundraising goal for a fantastic organization!