Rachel Bergsieker, shown here in Senegal, is using the Charity Miles app to raise money for WFP while she trains for a half marathon. Photo courtesy Rachel Bergsieker
For some, a long run is a simple personal achievement – a mountain to climb during the day. For others, like American college student Rachel Bergsieker, these personal achievements come with an even larger purpose.
At the end of August, 22-year-old Rachel Bergsieker from Indiana, US, took on the daunting task of training for the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon, a 13.1 mile race in November. A senior at Butler University in Indiana, Rachel is a longtime runner, but now her running comes with a new purpose. Every time she sets out for a training run, she is raising money for the World Food Programme through Charity Miles, an app available for both iOS and Android users.
Here’s how it works: Before you set out on your run, walk or bike ride, you scroll through the list of possible charities and choose which you’d like to support. For Rachel, it’s the World Food Programme. Once you’ve selected, choose your activity, hit start and get moving. Running and walking earn 25 US cents per mile. Biking earns 10 US cents per mile.
“I was really excited when I got on and saw that the World Food Programme was one of those options because the fight for global poverty has become such a huge part of my life,” Rachel says. “I’m trying everything I can to get involved in it and help.”
On her first day, she ran just over 3 miles, providing meals to people who may not otherwise have them. “It’s so awesome that such a little effort on my part can have such a huge impact on so many different people,” she says.
Once you finish your workout, Charity Miles allows you to post your impact on Facebook and Twitter. Since she started posting, other runners have approached Rachel wanting to know more about the app. “If I ever talk to somebody who says they’re running for whatever reason, I make sure I talk to them about Charity Miles because I think it’s a great app, and it’s free and helping out a lot of people along the way,” Rachel says.
For Rachel, this fundraising is part of a longstanding personal commitment. She spent the fall semester of 2012 in Senegal learning about international development and interning with a local development organization there. During this time, she interviewed locals about how poverty has impacted their everyday lives.
“That’s an area of the world where you really are introduced to people who live on less than one or two dollars a day,” Rachel says.
On her return trip home, Rachel found out about the Borgen Project, an organization fighting global poverty by making it a focus of foreign policy in the United States. She is now a senior regional director for Borgen.
Her experience in Senegal motivated Rachel to choose WFP as the beneficiary from her Charity Miles runs. “Seeing those things firsthand and realizing how blessed I am in my life to have all of the opportunities that I have, I wanted to do something to help people who were less fortunate that I was,” she says.
You can find a blog on Rachel’s training at http://nyelitemagazine.com/.