GUTS to GLORY
Up the Pace:
Students Run in Portland, Racewalk in Texas, Walk for
Organ Donor Awareness in San Francisco
and his racewalking team in Texas
Organ's 'R' Us Kiddie Pede
Mechanic was cruising an LA freeway, listening to the radio, when she
heard the news that would change her life. The station was broadcasting
a feature on Students Run LA, an after-school program aimed at teaching
at-risk students on how to safely run a marathon and she asked herself,
Why not in Portland?
with Portland Parks and Recreation and NikeGo, her version of the program,
called Students Run Portland (SRP), stepped off at the 2004 Nike RunHit
Wonder. We recruited, trained, and provided free running shoes
to about 500 students, who participated in the 3.1 mile event,
for age-appropriate distance events everything from a three-mile fun
run to the Portland Marathon, students learn about goal-setting, discipline,
respect, and fitness.
its second year, Mechanic hopes SRP will eventually dovetail with the
success of Students Run LA, where more than 95% of students complete
the marathon, and more than 90% graduate high school (LA Unified School
District average is 65%).
SRP was launched as a pilot program at Albina Youth Opportunity School,
Open Meadow, Marshall, Roosevelt, and Reynolds high schools. Today,
more than 30 teachers support the program, and they report a marked
improvement in student attendance, appearance, completion of school
work, and a positive, can-do attitude, she says.
garnered support from Portland Fit, a marathon-training company, and
Portland Running & Walking Company, a local retailer. Our
marathon students train with Portland Fit on Saturdays, where they receive
enthusiastic support from the running community, Mechanic says.
SRP athletes are expected to participate in the Portland Marathon, slated
for October 9, 2005.
a marathon is a safe activity for our nations sedentary youths
is continually debated. However, All the kids have had a medical
check before they can enter the program, Mechanic explains. And
it is not expected that they will run the marathon
realistically there will be a bunch of walkers, walking together, with
their mentors and teachers.
knows the secret to getting young people to become racewalkers. You
talk to them when they are third, fourth, or fifth graders. This is
the age where they are most susceptible to try the sport. Any older,
and peer pressure starts, other kids say its silly.
wryly: So if you cannot grasp a kid at that age, you have to wait
until they are 50 or 60 years old, when the sport again becomes
appealing for different reasons.
mid-1990s, Jaime has been involved in racewalking, beginning with himself.
Always athletic, Jaime gained a lot of weight as an adult. When he decided
to get fit again, he quit smoking, became a strict vegetarian, and hit
the walking trail. In 1998 he became the Texas 5K Racewalk Champion
in the 60 to 64 age bracket, and had open heart surgery three weeks
later the result of a lifetime of bad eating habits. Three days
after surgery he was back to racewalking. He later qualified and participated
in the Senior Olympics in Florida in 1999.
impressive walking resume snapped under his belt, Jaime turned his attention
to teaching kids the sport. Hitting the elementary schools clustered
around his home town of McAllen, TX, a town just seven miles from the
Mexican border, Jaime and his staff, sometimes including Olympic racewalker
Tim Seaman, host clinics for as many as 3,000 elementary school students.
captures the imagination of several hundred students who eventually
have to qualify for a place on the team. We try not turn anyone
away, but we have rules, Jaime says. Academic success is one of
them. Parental participation is another. We want parents to come
in and help out, keep track of times, give water to the kids. We find
that when parents are involved, they keep their kids involved.
years, Jaime has groomed top performers, including Roberto and Ricardo
Vergara, 15-year-old twins who both have the potential to become Olympic
contenders. Organ-Donor Awareness Centipede Walks in San
60 long, sports a giant glaring eyeball, an equally large replica
of a human heart, and is propelled by 26 tiny feet? The Organs R
Us (ORU) Kiddie Pede, a regular fixture in San Franciscos annual
Bay to Breakers footrace.
this shambling critter was carried by 13 organ recipients, ages 1 to
16, walking to raise awareness that organ donors save lives. This years
youngest participant was pushed in a stroller by her parents: Year-old
Katrina Thang is in need of a heart and lung transplant, explains Jeff
Shapiro, MD, and spokesperson for the nonprofit group.
children who walk this (12K) send a powerful message about becoming
an organ donor and telling your family about that decision, Shaprio
says. There are 88,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ
transplant, of which 5,000 are children. Eighteen people die every day
because an organ is not available.
of ORU is to promote organ donation through walking and running. The
Bay to Breakers footrace is one of many events that goes toward achieving
this goal. The Relay, a 199-mile run that resembles Portlands
own Hood-to-Coast, is another. For walkers, this year marks the first
time they can participate in a scaled-down version of this event. The
128-mile course gives walkers a 70-mile head start on the runners and
ends in the same location, just over the Golden Gate Bridge.
out and walking for the weekend is an adventure in itself, Shapiro
notes. But when you do it for a cause, that makes it more important
registration is closed for the October 15-16, 2005 event, walkers should
mark their calendars for next year. For more information, visit www.therelay.com.