Top 10 charity walks

Nothing puts a spring in your step like walking for a great cause. It’s a motivating, feel-good way to shape up and shake up your routine. Register now for one of these and get moving!

The Great Walk

Walk Now for Autism

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Friends for Life Walk-a-Thon

Strides for Change

1. End drunk driving
Strides for Change
Where: 25 locations nationwide
When: Various dates from April to October
Distance: 5 km
Having started in 2005, this event includes 25 walks across the country, benefiting Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s local chapters and campaigns. Hundreds of participants at each location lace up with red MADD shoelaces, many paying tribute to loved ones killed or injured by impaired drivers. If the 5-km distance seems easy, focus on speed, and pump your arms to go faster.

2. Fight third-world poverty
World Partnership Walk
Where: 10 cities across Canada
When: May and June
Distance: Around 5 km
Now in its 27th year, this walk for the Aga Khan Foundation is Canada’s largest annual event dedicated to fighting global poverty. Last year, nearly 40,000 participants raised over $6 million for programs that include giving kids vaccines in Mozambique and helping entrepreneurs in Egypt. Up the ante by setting a goal for yourself: First-timers should aim to complete a 5K in 60 to 90 minutes, suggests Lee Scott, a personal trainer and owner of Wow Power Walking in Toronto. Well-trained speed walkers should set their sights on finishing in 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Beat breast cancer
Mother’s Day Walk
Where: More than 80 malls/locations across Canada
When: Mother’s Day weekend (May 7 and 8)
Distance: Varies
This walk for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada is traditionally an indoor event at malls across the country. But this year the Sarnia, Ont., and Mississauga, Ont., events will head outside. There are some advantages to staying inside, though, says Barb Gormley, a walking coach in Toronto. “Mall walking is ideal for anyone, but particularly for people who have balance issues or are older. It’s air-conditioned and the floor surface is nice and even, so you won’t trip.”

4. The paws cause
Friends for Life Walk-a-Thon
Where: Across Ontario
When: May and September
Distance: 5 km
“Your dog is the best exercise partner; rain or shine, he’ll be there waiting at the door to go for a walk,” says Gormley. “Dogs can’t hear excuses, so their owners tend to be good walkers.” Take your pooch on the ultimate trip around the block to support the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

5. Stop violence against women
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Where: Across Canada
When: May to October
Distance: Around 1.6 km
Firemen, burly police officers and bankers in suits squeeze into high heels and click-clack through towns across the country in support of the White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. Women are welcome to join in, says the campaign’s director of development, Nick Rodrigue, “but we encourage them to wear flats.”

6. The vision quest
See It Our Way
Where: Toronto
When: May 29
Distance: 5 km
Walking 5 km is one thing; doing so without being able to see is quite another. The walk, organized by the Ontario Foundation for Visually Impaired Children, encourages people to hike a trail blindfolded — with a guide — in support of support early-intervention services.

7. Booty patrol
Push for Your Tush
Where: Eight locations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia
When: May to July
Distance: 1, 5 or 10 km
Colon Cancer Canada’s walk raises awareness about the disease (which is highly treatable if caught early), encourages screening and raises funds for research. And the choice of distances offers something for everyone.

8. Walk and talk against autism
Walk Now for Autism
Where: Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and London, Ont.
When: June and September
Distance: About 3 km
This walk for Autism Speaks Canada raises funds for advocacy, family services and biomedical research. And it brings thousands together for a rare opportunity to meet others affected by the disorder. “Sometimes parents are embarrassed when a child has a fit,” says Paula Stamp, a top fundraiser who has a six-year-old son with autism. “You come to this walk and it doesn’t matter if your kid has a meltdown. Everyone is accepted.”

9. Choose your charity
The Great Walk
Where: Vancouver Island
When: June 4
Distance: 63.5 km
Billed as “North America’s toughest pledge walk,” this event by the Tahsis Lions Club takes participants from around the world through gravel logging roads, from Gold River to Tahsis on Vancouver Island. The route, which winds through forests and past the Pacific Ocean, takes the average person eight to 16 hours, and you can raise funds for any charity of your choice.

10. Join our teams!
This year Chatelaine staffers are walking to support some causes close to our hearts. (We’re proud sponsors, too.) Join us in Toronto or choose a location close to you:

  • Walk to Fight Arthritis
    Where: 24 locations
    When: May 15 Distance: 1 or 5 km
  • MS Walk
    Where: 160 locations
    When: April & May
    Distance: 5 or 10 km
  • Walk for ALS
    Where: 78 locations
    When: May, June & September
    Distance: 5 or 10 km