Looking For An Athletically Minded Charities? AC Shilton November 24, 2014 5461 Put your money where your muscle is by giving to one of these charities this holiday season. Sports give so much to our lives—from giving us goals to pursue to training partners to giggle with and even granting us that un-replicable feeling of hitting a PR. In return, it asks for nothing but a bit of time and effort. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give a little extra something else in return. Southwest Florida has many charitable organizations that use athletics as a catalyst for good in our community. From the Special Olympics to Bikes For Tykes, Girls On The Run and the Gulfcoast Runners, there’s no shortage of places where you can donate your money. Here’s a quick rundown of some of our area’s most worthy causes. Girls On The Run At first glance it might seem like this charity is all about turning girls into runners, but that’s really just a fraction of its mission. Yes, technically the girls run. But they’re taught life skills, leadership and citizenship through running. Aimed at girls in third to eighth grade, adult mentors—called running buddies—accompany girls as they get ready for a 5k. Along the way there are service projects to complete and lots of fun games and activities. “I continue to be a part of Girls On The Run because of our girls,” says Christine McConnelee, executive director for the Collier County Chapter. “To see the faces of those empowered little ladies as they cross the finish line, often with tears in their eyes, is a one-of-a-kind feeling. It’s then that I know that our program is working. That we are changing the minds of girls who once thought they could never run a 5k, or speak their mind, or make a difference in their community.” Donations go towards funding the 5ks, helping coaches become certified in CPR and buying supplies. For more info, visit: www.gotrcc.org. There’s also a Lee County Chapter starting up this spring. Donations for that chapter should be directed to: http://www.gotrswfl.org.