The first-ever NYRR Times Square Kids’ Run at the United Airlines NYC Half gave hundreds of kids the chance to stop traffic in Times Square while they ran a thrilling 1500 meters in one of New York City’s most iconic venues. For their efforts, the kids received an official NYRR Times Square Kids’ Run at the United Airlines NYC Half souvenir blue wool hat. “The inclusion of the kids event in one of our premier races will promote our mission in a big way, as well as give many kids a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Mary Wittenberg.
NYRR offers programs to people of all ages and abilities. The 90 senior citizens who participated in the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K in March are proof that NYRR truly is intergenerational. We get seniors from local community centers and rehabilitative day facilities to lead healthier lives through weekly walking sessions and wellness presentations.
Mary La Pettina, 88, of Jefferson Senior Center, said about her recent 5K, “I do this race every year and I’m going to keep doing it!” Josie Cruz, 71, walked two miles this year, one mile more than last year after knee surgery, and she vows to complete the course next year. “It feels so good to be out here walking,” said a spirited Cruz.
Suyapa Blanco, deputy director of the Raices Corona Neighborhood Senior Center, said, “We are very lucky and proud to be part of the NYRR Senior Striders. The programs offered to our seniors are wonderful.”
Two young runners, Abdel Khalil from M.S. 821 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Ani’a Campbell, from P.S. 46 in Upper Manhattan, received the NYRR Youth Programs Award at NYRR Club Night in March
In sixth grade, Abdel was the class clown. His GPA suffered and he had to attend summer school. In seventh grade, Abdel joined his Young Runners team, studied hard, and was rewarded with a 94% average. “Abdel is the true definition of a student-athlete with a success story,” says his coach Bakwah Kotung. Now in ninth grade, Abdel, 14, completed the January NYRR Fred Lebow Manhattan Half in 1:41 and has improved his mile time to 5:43 from 8:18. “He embodies the essence of what we want all Young Runners to be like,” says Kotung.
Ani’a, 11, captain of her Young Runners team, motivates her teammates to do their best. “Her love for the sport and her team is obvious to everyone,” says her coach Gina Serafin. She is also involved in the NYRR Young Ambassadors program, serving as a role model and public speaker advocating for a healthy lifestyle for young adults. “Running makes me feel accomplished and good about myself,” says Ani’a.
On Sunday, March 29, NYRR partnered with District 4 Councilman Daniel Garodnick for a fun, free clinic at P.S. 59 in Upper Manhattan on how to get kids moving and eating healthfully. Kids and adults participated in games and interactive workshops while experts in the fields of running, fitness, and nutrition gave their best advice to motivate and encourage youth to be active and eat well.
“It’s much easier to stay healthy and fit if you develop good habits when you’re young," said Councilman Garodnick. NYRR couldn’t agree more.