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In its fourth year of partnering with nonprofit organization Marathon Kids, Midland Independent School District is set to implement Marathon Kids Connect district-wide in the 2020–2021 school year. This move will make Marathon Kids programming available to more than 13,000 students across 26 Midland elementary school campuses.

Marathon Kids Connect, a physical activity tracking app and reporting platform, was developed to make it easier than ever to track and report on kids’ active time. In this period of transitional Blended Learning for Midland ISD students, Marathon Kid Connect also bridges the gap between school and home, as parents and teachers can use the app together to log kids’ physical activity, track their progress, and celebrate success.

In 2017, H-E-B made a $50,000 investment in Midland ISD, which allowed students on 17 campuses to participate in the Marathon Kids program at no charge. That year, 95% of the 3,300 participating students ran at least 26.2 miles—the distance of a marathon—and top-performing students were recognized at the Root Beer Mile at the conclusion of the season. 21 coaches and volunteers in Midland ISD participated in the district’s first-ever Marathon Kids Leadership Academy. The following year, H-E-B increased its investment to 20 schools in Midland ISD, allowing the program to grow. Last year, again thanks to support from H-E-B, 3,882 Midland students tracked their distance each day, together running more than 86,000 miles.

The Marathon Kids program is proven to jumpstart healthy, long-lasting change for children. At a time when physical and mental health are at a premium, the partnership between Marathon Kids and Midland ISD highlights the district’s commitment to the wellbeing of its students and their families, now and into the future.

Audra Hooker, Director of P.E., Health & Wellness for Midland ISD, says, “I’m so pleased that in our fourth year to partner with Marathon Kids, we will be able to expand our program exponentially and provide our elementary students a healthy lifestyle opportunity that they can continue to pursue for years to come. In turn, it is our hope that other family members will be influenced by the program as they see the positive changes in our students’ health, physical fitness, behavior, reduced stress levels, and academic achievement.”

More About Marathon Kids

For 25 years, Marathon Kids has been on a mission to get kids moving—all kids, of all backgrounds and abilities. Research shows that healthy kids perform better in school, exhibit better behavior, and make better choices. With its fun, easy, and rewarding walking and running program, Marathon Kids shows kids they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. The nonprofit organization has inspired more than 2.5 million children with its free youth running program. Learn more at MarathonKids.org.

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Austin, TX – (Sept. 2, 2020) The 44th annual Statesman Capitol 10,000, presented by Baylor Scott & White Health and scheduled for Sunday, April 11, 2021, is proud to name Marathon Kids as the race beneficiary. In addition to one dollar from every Cap10K registration going to the local nonprofit organization, race participants can also choose to make an additional donation when registering for 2021, which the Statesman will match up to $10,000.  Registration is now open at Cap10K.com.

Founded in Austin in 1995, Marathon Kids is a nonprofit on a mission to get kids moving. The Marathon Kids program is implemented in Austin ISD districtwide, as well as hundreds of other schools across the country. Kids who participate in the running and walking program set goals to cover a cumulative four marathons, or 104.8 miles, over the course of the school year, one mile at a time.

Jeff Simecek, the Cap10K race director, supports Marathon Kids in its mission that aligns with the spirit and purpose of the Capitol 10,000. “Since the first Cap10 back in 1978,” says Simecek, “this race has been about bringing the Austin community together in the name of good health, and Austin’s kids are the heart and the future of our city. I’m happy that our race and the Austin running community will support Marathon Kids in their mission to get kids active and set them on the path toward a lifetime of good health.”

“Helping kids develop a love of running that will serve them their whole lives has always been our mission,” says Marathon Kids CEO Cami Hawkins. “Now, with so much uncertainty in schools and life in general due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for kids to move their bodies and reap the benefits of exercise for their physical and mental health. We are thrilled to be the beneficiary of the 44th annual Cap 10K in 2021. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year and what better way to show the strength of our community than the pairing of Marathon Kids and the Cap10K! We are grateful for this partnership, as it will help us in our mission to reach more kids than ever and make the Marathon Kids program available to all, without cost as a barrier.”

As of 2020, the Marathon Kids program is offered at no charge for all schools and community organizations and includes access to Marathon Kids Connect, the organization’s new digital lap-tracking app and reporting platform. Marathon Kids Connect was developed to make it easier than ever to track and report on kids’ active time, and it will help to meet students’ shifting needs if the 2020–21 school year includes periods of distance-learning from home. Teachers, coaches, parents, and volunteers can use the platform and app to connect, get involved, and support their student runners in making progress, hitting milestones, and celebrating achievements.

More About Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. When kids feel healthy, they perform better in school, exhibit better behavior, and make better choices. With a fun, easy, and rewarding walking and running program, the nonprofit has inspired more than 2.5 million children over the past 25 years to live happier, healthier lives. 

To kick off its 25th anniversary season in Austin, Marathon Kids is inviting the community to join in a celebratory 25,000-mile virtual relay around the world. During the month of September, participants will run or walk, adding their miles to the collective goal of running just past the circumference of the earth.

Once the goal is reached, the (virtual) baton will be passed to students starting a brand new season as Marathon Kids. They will start their 2020/21 school year with a big win already under their belts. So, lace up and make your miles count this fall, by joining forces with Marathon Kids as We Run the World together. To register, visit: marathonkids.org/weruntheworld

About Statesman Media:

Statesman Media is the premier media company in Central Texas. Its brand portfolio spans print and digital, reaching readers on the smartphone, tablet or laptop platform they prefer. The portfolio includes the Austin American-Statesman, named Newspaper of the Year in both 2013 and 2014 by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors; six community newspapers; Austin360, the entertainment publication; corresponding websites, statesman.com, hookem.com, and austin360.com; the digital edition, Statesman ePaper; dynamic apps like the Austin360 app, Statesman Live, Statesman Weather; and social media feeds, @statesman and @austin360. The print products reach more than 638,000 readers each week, while digital platforms draw 5 million visitors accessing more than 26 million pages each month. The diverse media company also offers commercial printing, packaging and delivery services. Statesman Media owns and manages Statesman Cap10K as well as several community and charitable efforts including Statesman Season for Caring and Statesman Swim Safe for Austin Kids, a local program that teaches at-risk children to swim. Statesman Media is part of Gannett. 

About Gannett Co., Inc. 

Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is an innovative, digitally focused media and marketing solutions company committed to strengthening communities across our network. With an unmatched reach at the national and local level, Gannett touches the lives of nearly 140 million people monthly with our Pulitzer-Prize winning content, consumer experiences and benefits, and advertiser products and services. Gannett brands include the USA TODAY and more than 260 daily local media brands, digital marketing services companies ReachLocal, WordStream, and ThriveHive and U.K. media company Newsquest. To connect with us, visit www.gannett.com.

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In 1995, an Austin public relations consultant and avid runner set out to bring her love of movement to a younger generation. Now 25 years later, Marathon Kids founder Kay Morris is both humbled and awestruck by the impact her creation has had on so many young lives. “It still feels unreal,” she said.

The idea began when she heard media reports about increasing rates of childhood obesity along with decreasing physical activity. She learned that American children were running considerably less than their global peers.

A magazine article about a teacher who created a “run around the world in increments” program helped clarify Morris’ vision: she believed young kids would enjoy running a marathon in the same gradual way. Morris created a chart where kids could color in every quarter-mile and track their progress until they completed the whole 26.2-mile course months later. The idea was simple and straightforward. Since it rewarded completion, not speed, it was an endurance race that everyone could win.

“One thing I’ve learned as a runner is that it’s not just about muscular well-being, it’s about psychological well-being,” she said. “I thought this feeling that ‘I’m vivacious and I can do something!’ would adapt well to children. So I took what was beautiful to me about running and adapted it to young people.”

Kay Morris

Gathering Support

Once the seed of the idea was planted, Morris reached out to Austin ISD and their PE teachers, who embraced the idea with gusto. She teamed up with Paul Carrozza, owner of local running store RunTex, who became Marathon Kids’ first sponsor. 

It was important to Morris that they capture the imagination of children of all skills, shapes and backgrounds. 

That first year, Morris expected about 200 elementary kids to join. More than 1,600 signed up.  

“It was the elementary school PE teachers who built this program with me. I drove all around to each of their schools in my little Honda Civic,” she said. “There were no texts, nobody using emails. Honestly the fax machine was almost always broken. It was an adventure!”

In addition to inspiring individual students, her team of supporters wanted to build up the entire community, so they planned kick-off events and finisher celebrations, giving kids free T-shirts, medals and the opportunities to meet professional and Olympic athletes. 

“The key was to keep it simple and to celebrate in a joyful, colorful, inexpensive way,” Morris said. “I wanted university track & field venues to host the celebrations because it’s so important that children of all income levels get to be on a college campus. Just being on a campus with their parents can ignite their dreams of higher education.”

Expanding the Dream

Morris soon realized that her simple Austin prototype could be easily expanded to other cities. With the help of corporate sponsorships, Marathon Kids hired a small staff and began thinking big. Volunteer ambassadors would travel from city to city to present their mission and set up free programs. “Our first year in Austin, we had 1,600 participants. When I left Marathon Kids in 2012, we were in major cities across the country and there were 275,000 Marathon Kids.”

Looking Ahead

Today, Marathon Kids serves kids in all 50 states—and now with the virtual program, parents can support their kids’ physical activity goals during periods of remote learning. Morris has been thrilled to see everything her small idea ignited, but she refuses to take all the credit. 

“Never do I have a sense of ‘I did this!’ It was truly a step-by-step journey with teachers, sponsors and eventually staff. I’m most proud that we decided to keep the program free. I’m proud that Marathon Kids has good bones and has endured. I’m proud of all the people who came forward for these children.”

And when asked how she feels to know how many young lives she impacted? “I confess when I see little children running with their parents, I have a little light shine inside for them, hoping maybe our efforts will carry them through a lifetime of vitality.” 

To keep Marathon Kids free for all kids, please consider a donation to Kay’s 25th Anniversary fundraiser.

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. 

Donate Now

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For Immediate Release: 9/1/2020

AUSTIN, Texas – Over the past 25 years, Marathon Kids has gotten 2.5 million kids moving—and now, it’s time to celebrate! Founded in Austin in 1995, Marathon Kids offered the first children’s running program grounded in research. And that research was compelling: It showed that regular exercise improved kids’ physical and mental health and even boosted their academic success. It also showed that early physical activity set kids up for a lifetime of fitness. These tenets became the basis for the nonprofit’s commitment to helping children of all abilities lead healthy, active lives.

A quarter-century later, Marathon Kids has expanded its reach to kids in all 50 states as well as the U.K. The organization has remained agile and future-oriented even as it has hewed close to its longtime vision of seeing “all kids active and healthy for a lifetime.” In 2020 alone, as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has raged across the world, Marathon Kids has made key innovations to make its programming accessible to kids of all backgrounds and abilities. With the launch of Marathon Kids Connect, an all-new, cloud-based physical activity tracking and reporting platform, Marathon Kids also removed the cost barrier by offering the program completely free to all schools and community organizations. Visit MarathonKids.org/Connect to join, access free resources, and get kids moving.

There are more exciting events in the works, starting this September, when Marathon Kids will celebrate its milestone anniversary and kick off the new running season by teaming up with Academy Sports + Outdoors to host a virtual relay race. We Run the World is a free walking and running event spanning the entire month of September. People around the country will join forces to run or walk a cumulative 25,000 miles (slightly more than the circumference of the earth!), with FitRankings tracking participants’ miles.

Relay registration is pay-what-you-can, ranging from free of charge to $50; contributing at least $10 gets you swag like a virtual running badge and printable race bib along with endless bragging rights. Participants will be invited to keep track of individual and community progress on the Leaderboard, and there is a virtual Hall of Fame for anyone who wants to upload a photo with the hashtag #MKRunTheWorld. All are welcome to run or walk in this epic virtual event, including kids, grownups, and families; the more people participating, the more ground covered together! Learn more and register at MarathonKids.org/WeRunTheWorld.

At the end of the month, when We Run the World reaches its 25,000-mile finish line, it will be time to pass the baton to a new season of Marathon Kids who are primed to start the 2020–2021 running season. The Austin Independent School District will launch the new season with a Marathon Kids Day celebration in October. Plans are also in the works for a finishers’ celebration in the spring—whether virtual or in-person remains to be determined, but either way, it promises to be legendary!

Be sure to follow Marathon Kids on social media, including the hashtag #MKRunTheWorld, and check out the organization’s blog as it highlights the Faces of Marathon Kids—nine key figures who have been instrumental in launching the nonprofit and helping it innovate and expand into what it is today. Each will be celebrated on the Marathon Kids blog, including fundraising pages for each figure to raise necessary funds so the Marathon Kids program can remain free for all, for good.

About Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids shows kids through running that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. Kids in the program work at their own pace to run or walk the equivalent mileage of up to four marathons. They run (or walk) one lap at a time, one 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.

Partners and supporters include Nike, H-E-B, LA Dodgers Foundation, Academy Sports + Outdoors, City of Austin, Cap 10K, Dallas Loop-the-Lake Foundation, Active Schools, Austin Runners Club.

More information is available at marathonkids.org.