Jennifer Kanter’s entry into marathon running came about somewhat by chance.
She’d been fundraising with Team in Training and preparing for a triathlon, but the race was canceled and participants instead had to pick a different event to enter.
“I said, ‘What the heck, I’ll just run a marathon,’” said Kanter, 35, of the North Side.
That was in 2005, and Kanter completed her first marathon in New Orleans. She was immediately hooked, she said, and set a goal of running a marathon in every state. She’s now up to 20 marathons in 16 states plus the District of Columbia, but even with her goal she keeps returning to the DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon because it’s her favorite. This year will be her third full Pittsburgh Marathon and she’s run other distances an additional two times.
Kanter is also fundraising for Hair Peace Charities through the marathon’s Run for a Reason program.
Hair Peace Charities is a local organization that helps provide financial assistance to women and girls in Western Pennsylvania who are undergoing cancer treatment and seeking to purchase wigs.
“I had never heard of them until this year, but I have a coworker who brought in a flier that said they needed charity runners,” Kanter said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to run the full Pittsburgh Marathon but I saw that and my mom battled breast cancer years ago. She lost her hair and had multiple wigs, so it hit home. I remember watching what she went through with wigs and as annoying and itchy as they were, she just kind of wanted to have some normalcy and I think they bring that to people. So I said, ‘I’m running for them.’ It was a no-brainer. I signed up that afternoon.”
One of the things Kanter is excited about is knowing she’s going to be helping people right here in the community. There’s just something satisfying about knowing the money she’s raising could potentially help someone she’d pass in the grocery store or walking downtown. Personalizing why she’s doing it is also key to her fundraising, she said.
“It seems to motivate people to donate,” she said. “Giving our background and my family’s story, I’m sharing information that I probably wouldn’t share if I wasn’t fundraising. A lot of people didn’t know my mom battled cancer or that she’s a survivor but when we share our stories I think people can relate and want to help in some way.”
Kanter does all her fundraising through social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram. Her family and friends help by sharing her posts and posting their own requests, she said, and she’s ended up getting donations from people she’s never met.
Her advice for fundraising?
“It’s easier than you think, and people are more willing to donate to a charity than you might think if you just ask,” she said. “Just start asking and you’d be surprised how many people will come through and want to help when they can. Ask anybody and everybody.”
To visit Hair Peace Charities’ website, go here: http://www.hairpeace.org.
To visit Jennifer Kanter’s Crowdrise page, go here: https://www.crowdrise.com/hairpeacepitt2017/fundraiser/jenniferkanter.
And to learn more about how you can get involved with the Pittsburgh Marathon’s Run for a Reason charity program, visit here: http://www.thepittsburghmarathon.com/charities.