In 1997 PAWS Chicago set out to halt the unnecessary killing of thousands of homeless cats and dogs in the region, establishing a No Kill shelter and organizing public-awareness campaigns. More than 30,000 adoptions later, team members still visit Chicago Animal Care and Control six days a week to take as many pets into their care as they have room for, providing necessary medical attention as well as spaying and neutering services. The Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic and GusMobile spay and neuter van serve the pets of low-income families and tackle the problem of animal overpopulation in city neighborhoods, catching, treating, and releasing more than 18,000 cats and dogs every year to prevent the unchecked growth of local animal colonies. Through the Adoption and Humane Center in Lincoln Park, PAWS also adopts out animals that enter its shelters. The center maintains a cage-free facility to ensure pets live in comfort and dignity until they can be matched with an adoptive family.
The ROC Race is a 5K fun run with a catch?a dozen of them, to be exact. Twelve giant obstacles stand in the way of victory, including a wrecking ball that threatens to knock runners off their path. The various challenges draw their inspiration from the world's most extreme game shows, where contestants have to run through tires, swing on ropes, and swoosh down giant slides. To make things even more exciting, ROC's organizers encourage participants to dress up in wacky costumes like tutus or outfits inspired by superheroes such as the Fantastic 5K Finisher.
This epic event descends on cities across the U.S., welcoming runners ages 13 and up to fend off water and foam before greeting crowds of spectators at the finish line. A post-race experience keeps things going with even more foam and festivities.
When they weren't busy winning Ironman triathlons and coaching athletes to national success, the trainers behind Multisports.com spent their time like many Americans: hanging out with their favorite pooches. Eventually, the team found a way to incorporate their four-legged friends into their runs, as well. Thus, the Petco 5K9 Walk Run was born. Now a national series of 1-mile and 5K runs, the dog-friendly events promote outdoor activity while raising funds for local animal welfare groups with the help of the Petco Foundation. In addition to hitting the course with their pets, participants can also discover the latest exercise innovations during a visit to the event's health and fitness expo.
As night falls, participants in the noncompetitive Rave Run pull on neon T-shirts, don glow-in-the dark glasses, and stuff their pockets with glow sticks. Spectators look on as the throng of illuminated runners, which includes kids and adults, make their way through a 5-kilometer course that winds through city streets.
The event culminates with an after party, where a DJ spin tunes and powerful lasers cast out beams that illuminate wide smiles and the secret locations of any lost arks in the vicinity. Fog machines and CO2 jets help create a high-adrenaline atmosphere as attendees dance with their glow-in-the-dark compatriots. All the fun is for a good cause; The Rave Run partners with a local charity in each participating city.
More than a decade ago, K9 Fit Club founder Tricia Montgomery admitted it to herself: She and her dog were both overweight. They set out to lose weight together, and after dropping more than 130 pounds, Montgomery created K9 Fit Club to share her success with others. The curriculum is focused on joint dog-and-owner workouts—the core classes include games of fetch, obstacle courses, and cardio exercises, and others cover tai chi and dancing. The success of Montgomery's program has captured the attention of The Biggest Loser producer David Broome, who will bring Montgomery's program to reality TV in 2014.