Tiki Barber Is Running 'Meaningful' Miles with Team For Kids As They Celebrate Raising $100M

The former NFL player and children's charity ambassador tells PEOPLE why his mission is, "to give back to these communities that often don't get the right kind of influences to get out and be active."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 20: Tiki Barber celebrates as he crosses the finish line during the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon on March 20, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/New York Road Runners via Getty Images)
Photo: Bryan Bedder/NYRR

For former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, there's more meaning to training for a run than just lacing up his sneakers and getting the steps in.

"As I became more ingrained in the running community in New York, I wanted another way to be involved and use my name and influence to do good," the Team For Kids ambassador told PEOPLE exclusively ahead of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon where he ran 13.1 miles on behalf of the charity.

"[I run with] Team For Kids because of how meaningful it is for us as running adults to give back to these communities that often don't get the right kind of influences to get out and be active. The mission is so simple. It makes it easy to translate for me and it fits with what my life has been about with athleticism and competition."

To be a part of their Team For Kids ambassadors and be a part of their mission has been fulfilling, and it falls in line with a passion that I've developed over the last almost decade now."

Meb Keflezighi participates in NYRR RunCenter events surrounding the 2018 NYRR Virtual For the Kids 5K Benefiting Rising New York Road Runners (RNYRR).
Meb Keflezighi participates in NYRR RunCenter events surrounding the 2018 NYRR Virtual For the Kids 5K Benefiting Rising New York Road Runners (RNYRR). Jon Simon/NYRR

As New York Road Runner's premiere charity, TFK makes free youth and community programs possible for over 112,000 kids nationwide while helping kids develop the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life. Barber, 47, has run several 10-Ks, 10-miler and half marathon races with the organization.

The father of six went into this race on a high note as he and several others have now helped raise over $100 million since the organization's inception in 2002, and has learned a thing or two with how to lean on his loved ones for a good cause.

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"I call a couple of people that I know," Barber says of how he fundraises during training. "If I was big in social media, I mean, I am to an extent, but I don't push things out in social media. I tend to keep it into an insular group. Luckily, I have a lot of great friends that are like, 'Yeah, take whatever you need,' and that's usually how I get it done."

Tiki Barber helping fundraise $100M for Team for Kids charity and running marathons supporting their efforts

The thrill of hitting his fundraising goals and wearing his team's jersey makes the aches and pains of training for the big races worth it.

"One of the reasons I love running is because it's an individual event," the Tiki and Tierny podcast co-host adds. "It's just me running, but it feels so collective. All these thousands of people and tens of thousand if you're in the New York City Marathon, we're not winning, but we know that we're pushing each other in an odd way."

"The beauty of the Team For Kids in that perfect [neon] yellow, you see it from miles. You can tell, and they see you coming. The supporters and the coaches that are often out there amongst [us] on the courses, they're right there just pushing you along."

Although he knows a thing or two about pushing himself from his 10 years in the NFL, he sometimes has to dig deep and think about how he got to the start in order to cross the finish line.

"There comes points in any run, whether it's a 5K or a marathon, where you're just like, 'Man, this sucks. I'm ready to stop,'" Barber admits. "And it just takes a little bit of umph to get you triggered back in. Being part of something, it's so visible and it's in your face, but also doing so much good. It helps. It really does. It's hard to explain that to people who aren't runners, but it really does help."

Tiki Barber finishes the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon on November 06, 2022 in New York City.
Bryan Bedder/New York Road Runners via Getty

Next on Barber's bucket list is finishing all of the six World Major Marathons — New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo — so he can earn his Abbott World Star medal and hang up his laces for good.

"I told my wife I would quit running marathons after every one," Barber says with a laugh. "She's like, 'You're dying, your feet are all jacked up and you get massages for two weeks.' But I told her I would quit when I hit 50, and so I have just over two years to get in the next three."

"I think I'll have it. I'll get it done. I'm already signed up for Tokyo. I just deferred it. Then I got to get into London and Berlin in the next two years, so I'm looking forward to it. Then I'll just do half marathons because those are easy. My body feels really good running for two hours. It feels like crap when I run for four."

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