PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As marathon season quickly approaches, charities are changing course on how races will be held due to COVID-19.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon canceled its May events because of restrictions on mass gatherings during the pandemic. However, people can still participate in the marathon, virtually.

Marathon officials told KDKA, runners had the option to run virtually and still earn their finisher medals and shirt. There are more than 13,000 runners participating so far.

Among these runners are 1,100 charity runners who have already raised more than $350,000 as part of the Run for a Reason Charity Program.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon said in a statement:

“All 35 official charities are still relying on the funds raised through our program so that they can continue to work toward their missions: research still needs to be conducted, diseases still need to be cured, the homeless still need food and shelter, veterans still need support, animals still need care, and more. Those needs don’t stop because of the pandemic or because the marathon had to be canceled.”

The Tunch and Wolf Walk which is usually hosted by the Light of Life Rescue Mission in May
and raises over a $100 thousand for our city’s homeless will also be hosted virtually this year, according to Doug Smith, Director of Development for LLRM.

“As a rescue mission, we are still open we’re still serving those coming to us.” ‘We still need to raise that money,” said Smith.

Smith also told KDKA, construction on the Light of Life Rescue Mission’s future emergency homeless shelter being built on the North Side, had been delayed due to government restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But, the organization has received the green light to start building again.

“It got temporarily delayed due to all of this. However, we put in an appeal into the government and asked for an exemption to continue construction and we are able to do that and so we are really excited for that,” said Smith.

The American Heart Association of Pittsburgh doesn’t have a walk until, but according to officials, will be hosting its Go Red Luncheon on Zoom in June.

“We actually think this is an exciting opportunity instead of having four or five hundred people at our luncheon we will now have over a thousand people meeting with us virtually,” said Deb Frick Banks – Executive Director of the American Heart Association of Pittsburgh.

Fundraising dollars from the Go Red Luncheon will help supply high blood pressure patients who are
currently seeing their doctors through telemedicine with blood pressure cuffs to better manage their health without actually being able to meet their doctors in person.