Our guest this week is Mark Hayward, Mark is a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and is the creator and co-founder of the non-profit organization Train for Humanity. He lives in the Caribbean where he runs a small B&B with his wife.

What on Earth Could be Better Than Getting in Shape? How about getting in shape for a cause? Specifically, getting in shape or staying fit, while at the same time helping to raise funds and awareness for humanitarian crises.
For most of my adult life I have been a runner, not a fast or particularly graceful runner, but an enthusiast just the same.

About two years ago I was heading out the door to go running when a news clip on CNN wound up stopping me in my tracks for a minute. The story was about the horrific activities that were (and still are) taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

When the piece was over, I continued on my way and headed out the door for my run. However, during the workout the images of what was happening in Darfur stayed with me.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere as I was listening to Lucky Dube on my IPOD, I began to think of the successful campaigns that the Team in Training (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and Joints in Motion (Arthritis Foundation) have waged to raise funds and awareness for their respective health-based organizations by utilizing everyday athletes and their training efforts.

Then it HIT me:
Why hasn’t anybody implemented a similar model of using endurance athletes in training (getting fit) to assist with humanitarian fundraising and awareness?
And thus, the initial idea for Train for Humanity was born!

Recently, along with some like-minded blogging friends from around the world as collaborators (Leo Babauta, Dan Clements, and Andrew Flusche), I created and co-founded Train for Humanity, which combines our passion for exercising, blogging, and the internet in an innovative new project to help raise funds and awareness for humanitarian causes. Our mission is simple:

getting fit + social media + blogging = social good

Currently we are undertaking an initial three-month pilot project for phase one to test how well this model of “training for a humanitarian cause” works. The three Train for Humanity participant athletes are in training for various endurance events (full marathon, half-marathon, and an Olympic Distance triathlon) and are helping to raise awareness and funds for orphans and refugees who have been affected by genocide in Darfur. Specifically, all sponsorship donations are being funneled to the Darfur Peace & Development Organization to help to rebuild their Shegegkaro School, which was recently bombed and subsequently destroyed.

How about you?

Do you like to exercise? Would you like to have your training go towards effecting a positive change in this world?

We are still working out the phase two details, but feel strongly that the future Train for Humanity participants are truly going to be the people who will take this new organization to the next level. To date, our efforts have been good in terms of raising awareness and funds, now imagine when we have you and ~100 participant athletes…I truly think it will be remarkable!

What a fantastic journey! You can follow Mark Hayward on Twitter or read more about him on his blog MyTropicalEscape.