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NEWS RELEASE                                                                      Contact:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Kristin Shaw, Director of Communications

April 12, 2018                                                                            kristin@marathonkids.org

512-477-1259

CEO CAMI HAWKINS NAMED AS FINALIST FOR AUSTIN WOMAN MAGAZINE WOMAN’S WAY AWARD

AUSTIN, Texas – Marathon Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and happiness of children by engaging them in a positive, goal-driven running and walking program, announced today that CEO Cami Hawkins has been named a finalist for an Austin Woman magazine award.

The Woman’s Way Business Awards are the only business awards for woman-owned and -led businesses in Austin. Award recipients span numerous industries and are chosen by a selection committee of successful local female business and community leaders. Hawkins was named a Woman’s Way finalist for making a measurable impact in Austin’s ever-growing health-and-wellness industry, through her work at Marathon Kids.

Other categories for awards other than UT Health Austin’s Health and Wellness include Professional Services, Mazda’s Business of the Year (less than $3M), Bank of America’s Business of the Year (more than $3M), Dell’s STEM, Texas Disposal Systems’ Social Impact, On the Dot Woman’s Rising Star, HEB’s Product Innovation, Digital Influencer, and I Am Austin Woman.

Austin Woman magazine has been in the business of celebrating women in our community for the past 15 years. Through the Woman’s Way Business Awards, Austin Woman recognizes and honors the women behind innovative businesses that aid in our city’s development and progress,” says Melinda Garvey, publisher of the magazine.

According to the rules for the award, each nomination must be either 51 percent or more woman-owned or have an Austin-based woman in an executive role with profit and loss responsibilities who is the most senior-level employee of either the whole company or of a branch of the company.

Winners will be announced at the Woman’s Way Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the JW Marriott in Downtown Austin. The event is open to the public, and tickets are available at atxwoman.com/womans-way-2018/.

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids helps kids unlock their potential and adults discover their inner coach by joining, starting or supporting a Marathon Kids running club in their home, school, out-of-school time organization, or camp.

Kids in the program work at their own pace to run, or walk, the equivalent mileage of up to four marathons, and Marathon Kids provides the training, rewards, tools and resources to keep them moving. Marathon Kids works for any kid, at any fitness level. Kids set their goals and track their progress on a journey to complete four marathons, or 104.8 miles, over the course of the running club season. They run (or walk) a lap at a time, at a day at a time, and before they know it they’ve gone farther than they ever dreamed. Kids enrolled in the program have a network of dedicated adults showing them how it’s done, and most importantly, a motivated and inspiring coach supporting them every step of the way.

Corporate partners and supporters include Nike, HEB, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Active Schools, USATF Foundation, American Diabetes Association, Target, Tejas Trails, Athletes for Hope, LA Dodgers Foundation, and St. David’s Foundation.

More information is available at marathonkids.org.

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Our three-story nest was just about empty. I puttered, putting final touches on the house, when I came to the well-worn poster on my son’s closet door. Discolored tape, frayed edges: This old thing has got to go! Yet I hesitated, my hand hovering above the brightly colored image—an abstract runner in motion. Marathon Kids! In an instant, I was deep in memory.

A crisp, sunshine-filled February day; my husband and I, herding our young family. The oldest drags her heels, in full-on early-tween mode. Her younger sister skips ahead, excitedly calling out to friends. Tony Berger Stadium hums with energized youngsters and their bustling families. Balloons shine against the bright sky. Music stirs the crowd; medals gleam and clink. Enthusiastic volunteers marshal the masses. Matthew, our “baby,” revels in the celebration as we make our way toward the track.

Moving Through Elementary School

That February was one of many Marathon Kids final mile celebrations. The program was originally founded in central Texas by Kay Morris as a kindergarten-to-5th grade children’s run/walk program. Morris’ goal was inspiration, to get kids moving at whatever pace fit. The inaugural year (1995), my daughter was 7 years old, her sister 5, and little brother—a curly headed ball of energy—only 3. My memory’s a little hazy on all the details (hey, that was more than 20 years ago!) but the excellent P.E. teachers at North Oaks Elementary–now Kathy Caraway Elementary—introduced us. Our girls, new kids in Round Rock ISD, quickly embraced Marathon Kids. And, naturally, Matthew wanted to do whatever his big sisters were doing. He hit kindergarten and Marathon Kids running and didn’t stop until 5th grade’s last and final mile.

Record keeping was fun. We proudly posted progress charts, tracking quarter mile by quarter mile. Popsicle sticks, each worth one lap, were counted (“Look how many I got in P.E. today!”). Calculations were performed–how many laps equaled a mile? How many miles were yet to go? What was needed to reach that big goal, and how much time was left?

Kids are kids, and Matthew had his share of whiny times. But with every “I don’t feel like doing my Marathon Kids today” came an opportunity to talk about commitment, dedication, and reward: If you want to finish, you can’t slack off. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to success is simply getting out the door. Our family pulled together to turn yuck into fun. Sisters, mom, dad—we’d find a way to help overcome that down moment.

Bigger Rewards than a Medal

Who knew I’d have such fond memories of an elementary school program? As a runner and marathoner, I rejoiced that my family and I were sharing common footing. Those special P.E. days, when parents were invited to join in for laps, were a treat. Not just for time with my kid but for the other parents’ positive energy. Maybe, thanks to their kids, they’d started walking or rediscovered joy in running. February’s final mile celebration—full of beaming parents, proud kids, moving masses—always brought me to tears.

Just like a race is never simply about the finish line, Marathon Kids was so much more than activity. Yes, the P.E. program promoted covering a marathon-length at whatever pace, and my uber competitive son made a point to run each mile every year. Marathon Kids, however, wasn’t focused on speed, nor was comparison among participants encouraged. It was about discovering individual awe. That feeling when you realize taking on the impossible, a little piece at a time, no matter your age or physical ability, can bring amazing success.

Growth wasn’t merely stronger muscles, a healthier lifestyle, or better cardio. Character was built on those yuck days, when heading out the door didn’t seem fun at all. But Marathon Kids did anyway. They learned to look beyond and see the horizon.

Sure, Marathon Kids had cool swag—that yearly poster, finisher t-shirts all my kids wore forever, the impressive medal—but the tangible reward was confidence. Marathon Kids knew they could. Not just run or walk for 26.2 miles but complete what they’d started. Finish stronger than when they began.

Succeed.

Marathon Kid Lessons, All Grown Up

My now 25-year-old son recently sat at our kitchen counter, reviewing his objectives for an upcoming mentor meeting. He’d prepared, scheduled appropriate time for the drive into Austin, brushed up and printed copies of his resume. Matthew’s been on his own for a few years and is evaluating career directions. With a sigh, he mused about the long hours required at his current job: “I’m already at work when I see people getting their early morning run in and I think, ‘I’d like to do that.’ Once I have more free time, I’ll get back to working out.”

For a second, I see that wiry kid with his mischievous grin and brown legs hurtling down the track. Oh, sweetheart, I think, you may not be physically running right now but the Marathon Kid is still moving. Working hard, intent on the horizon. Persevering. Facing big challenges.

Putting one foot in front of the other and heading toward success.

Leah Fisher Nyfeler is a dedicated word wrangler. Her blog, Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life, embraces adventure and explores topics spanning workouts to life transitions and travel. Former editor in chief of Austin Fit Magazine, Nyfeler’s writing currently appears in a variety of print and online publications, including Texas Lifestyle MagazineMedium.com, and more. She lives, writes, and edits in Austin, TX, where she relishes working out with friends, eating fabulous food, and reading just about anything.

Follow Leah Nyfeler on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Taylor Creek Elementary is a bright, happy school in Copperas Cove in central Texas. A little more than 500 kids and almost 50 staff are inside on a full school day. On this day in March, about half of them are running outside before school.

Running before school.

Smiling, Coach Kyle Black calls out to one of the kindergarteners:

“Hey, kiddo – why are you walking? You’re supposed to be running, silly!”

She grins. He can see it on the runners’ faces as they walk, jog, gallop, and sprint by; this is the best part of the day. Do we get to run today, Coach? the kids say as they enter the school, hopeful and anticipating.

It’s only the second year for the Marathon Kids program at TCE, and it’s clear that it has become part of the culture, with mileage logs and photos dotting every hallway.

Proud first grader standing by her class’ Marathon Kids mileage logs.

“Not everyone will be a runner,” says Coach Black. “We’re not trying to create runners. But we can reach kids through running.”

Coach Black poses with bibs representing marathons completed by his students.

Sometimes, the results are unexpected. Three or four kids have reported weight loss of 20-30 pounds since starting the program. A 5th-grade boy with a history of behavioral issues decided to join the Marathon Kids group and now it helps keep him stable. Another boy said he couldn’t run even 10 minutes a day. Several months later, he has finished three complete marathons.

Fifth grader Phoebe is in one of the military families based out of nearby Ft. Hood. Coach Black says that running gave her common ground with her dad, and now they run together. Phoebe and her friend Leah have run the most miles in the school behind Coach Black’s daughter Kelbie, who has completed an impressive 16 cumulative marathons. They typically run/walk for an average pace of 10 minutes per mile, Coach says.

Star runners, Leah, Kelbie and Phoebe

At Taylor Creek, the kids attend PE class twice a week, and sometimes three times a week as the schedule alternates. Since TCE implemented the Marathon Kids program, their FitnessGram pacer test scores have noticeably improved for participating kids. In fact, the average number of laps for a student not in Marathon kids – 23. The average for his run club participants? 37 laps.

When Coach Black first heard about Marathon Kids, he showed research to his administration. To help them better understand running’s positive effects on kids, Coach Black showed them brain scans of kids before and after physical activity. Plus, he says, it helps kids be kids.

“I think team sports sometimes wears the family down instead of bringing them together,” Coach Black says.

“Our culture values people by performance. If performance is a kid’s identity and they are injured and can’t participate, then they lose their identity. The Marathon Kids program allows kids to go at their own pace. They don’t have to be perceived to be a typical ‘sports star’ to achieve and meet their goals.”

Taylor Creek Elementary uses a digital app called EZ Scan to help the kids track their miles and meet their goals. Every time students complete a lap around the big, open field, they scan the QR code on their individual cards.

The coaches collect these cards and keep them in large envelopes for the kids to pick up when they arrive before school and during their designated daily 10-minute fitness time. The simple app streamlines the process and creates a structure that minimizes effort and time from staff.

Coach Black using the EZ Scan app on his phone.

Taylor Creek is also a Healthier US Gold School. This means they are certified for enrollment in Team Nutrition, which has created healthier school environments through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

Students are encouraged to have a healthy breakfast before or after they run. Combined with the social and physical connection of Marathon Kids, Taylor Creek is offering a better future for the kids at their school.

“Kids can accomplish more and be healthier than they thought they could,” Coach Black says. “And that is a great thing.”

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking.