Runs, walks and bike rides are a popular way for charitable organizations to combine fun, fund raising and awareness for their causes. The April issue of a Chicago-area running magazine included 32 ads for upcoming citizen athletic events. Over a third of the ads touted a charity tie-in.

Many runners at the most recent Boston Marathon were running to raise money for others. In a perverse twist of fate, there are now fund raisers for Boston participants and spectators who were injured in the bombings near the finish line.

I love to ride my bike and when my friend Alex suggested we tackle the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Chicagoland Tour de Cure bike ride last June, I thought here was a chance to do some good for my health and the health of others.

Diabetes is approaching epidemic proportions in the United States. Our combination of lousy diet, lack of exercise, and aging populace are all contributors. Nearly 26 million Americans are affected by diabetes. The ADA predicts that 1 in 3 children born in the U.S. will eventually contract diabetes. A long time coworker of mine lost a limb to the disease. I felt that this is a cause that I could embrace.

There are 80 such Tour de Cure events across the U.S. involving roughly 55,000 cyclists. In 2011, more than $18 million was raised to further the ADA mission. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin all host several Tour de Cures. Most of the Midwest rides are held in May and June. More detailed information on this year's Tour de Cure can be found at www.tour.diabetes.org.

The Tour de Cure presented me with two challenges: 1) competing the 62-mile ride and 2) fund raising. Of the two, I feared the latter the most.

Read the entirety of "Sweat charity" by Mark Ollinger in the June 2013 print edition of Silent Sports. To order a copy or subscribe, call 888/706-4045.